Montoya Masters Nazareth In his second win in a row, the Target Chip/Ganassi driver beats the bullring and proves he's for real. By John Oreovicz NAZARETH, Pa. -- Any doubts about whether Juan Montoya could put together a run for the PPG...
Montoya Masters Nazareth
In his second win in a row, the Target Chip/Ganassi driver beats the bullring and proves he's for real. By John Oreovicz
NAZARETH, Pa. -- Any doubts about whether Juan Montoya could put together a run for the PPG Cup were emphatically answered at Nazareth Speedway on Sunday. The 23-year-old rookie from Colombia cruised to a 5.103-second victory in the Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix Presented by Toyota. His 120.225 mph average was a race record.
A strong run by P.J. Jones in the Patrick Racing Visteon Ford Swift resulted in a second-place finish -- by far Jones's best in CART competition. Paul Tracy was third in the Team KOOL Green Honda Reynard, marking his first podium finish since he won at Gateway in 1997.
Starting from the pole, Montoya led 210 of the 225 laps, but had to fight off a fierce challenge from Helio Castro-Neves. The Brazilian passed Montoya for the lead on two occasions, but quick work by the Target crew put Montoya9s Honda Reynard back in front both times.
"We had quite a good car," Montoya said. "At one point I got a couple of cars between Helio and me, and I could see that he was having trouble getting by them. I was really pushing hard, but we were pretty equally matched."
Castro-Neves lost second place to Jones on a Lap 154 restart. He then spun exiting Turn 3 without hitting anything on Lap 170. He restarted, but lost three laps, causing another yellow. Just after that restart, the Hogan Racing driver crashed hard in Turn 3, fortunately without injury. It was a poor reward after an excellent weekend.
"It felt like the brakes failed and the throttle stuck," said the crestfallen Castro-Neves, who was quickest in the first three practices and the warmup session Sunday. "It was a big shunt, but Rio is next, and we'll be ready."
Behind Tracy, Cristiano da Matta scored Toyota's best result to date with a fine drive to fourth place, ahead of Adrian Fernandez and Michael Andretti. Other notable championship contenders included Dario Franchitti in eighth and Greg Moore in 12th.
Al Unser Jr. frightened the 40,000 fans on hand when he crashed hard in Turn 3 on Lap 47. Unser was attempting to stay on the lead lap when he lost it entering the turn. He locked his brakes before impacting the wall with the right front corner.
"I picked up some understeer and just got in too deep on the entry to Turn 3," said Unser, who broke his ankle in the season opener and had just returned after a two-race hiatus. "The front brakes locked, and I went straight into the wall." He was uninjured.
With his win at Nazareth, Montoya now assumes the PPG Cup lead by two points over Fernandez, while Moore is now five markers back in third.
Source: CART Online