Sunday, September 26, 2021

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Juan Pablo Montoya returns to victory lane in Pocono 400 fueled by Sonoco

For the first time since 2000, Juan Pablo Montoya would return to Verizon IndyCar Series victory lane after taking the lead with four laps to go when Tony Kanaan would have pit for fuel.

“First of all, I want to thank Verizon, IndyCar, PPG – everyone that supports this car,” Montoya commented in victory lane. “I want to thank Roger (Penske) for believing me. He believed I could do it and here we are and it’s awesome.”

Starting on pole for the race, Montoya stayed in the top-five throughout the whole race and put himself in a position to win when he passed Will Power for the lead with 34 laps to go. The pair made slight contact in the process, breaking a small piece off the left-side of the front wing.

“Just a little more understeer but you’re either going to do it, or do it and I had to do it as that was the winning move,” Montoya said.

Montoya then led till his green flag pit stop with 14 laps to go, returning to the lead when the cycle completed. It marks the 15th career victory for the Columbian.

“Patience was the key for me. You have to be patient,” he said. “Days just like this if you do everything right, it’ll come to you.”

For Roger Penske, he’d be treated to a one-two finish as Helio Castroneves came across the finish line in the second spot.

“It’s great for Juan,” Penske commented. “All three cars did well. It’s a great day for our sponsors. Its also a great day for points with RHR (Ryan Hunter-Reay) having problems.”

As a result of finishing second, Castroneves gained ground in the championship points, now tied with teammate Power for the lead.

“We made some changes and copied some of my teammates’ set-up and it worked,” Castroneves said.

Rookie Carlos Munoz finished third for Andretti Autosport, followed by Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon. Simon Pagenaud finished sixth, followed by Mikhail Aleshin, Josef Newgarden, Marco Andretti, Will Power and Tony Kanaan. Kanaan would lead the most laps throughout the day during the middle portion of the event.

Will Power had been in contention all day long throughout the race, however would have to serve a pass-thru penalty with 37 laps to go as a result of pulling a block on Castroneves down the frontstaightaway.

“I think that’s up to the officials,” Penske said of the call between his drivers. “Its obviously a shame for them. But these guys are racers and will battle hard.”

“I actually let him go. I went wide and touch the brakes,” Power commented. “I don’t know what to say. Another penalty, another day gone and the commentators probably gave me a good rep.”

“Well, that’s one thing about our team – there’s no team orders and we race hard and push for it,” Castroneves said. “I’m not the one to make the call for it. Obviously, we’re pushing hard and fighting for the championship and its not my call.”

The 400 mile race featured only one caution with 40 laps to go when Graham Rahal got into the wall. As a result, this race goes down as the third fastest IndyCar race in series history.

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