Montoya: After Dixon passed me, "I thought we were screwed"

Juan Pablo Montoya is already looking towards what's next after his second Indy 500 triumph.

INDIANAPOLIS - Coming off his thrilling victory in the Indianapolis 500, Juan Pablo Montoya returned to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Monday morning for the customary photoshoot and to continue with interviews before heading off on a rapid-fire media tour, with one stop being in New York City where he will ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday morning.

Already thinking 'what's next'

“I think that my winning the Indianapolis 500 has finally sunk in,” said Montoya in a hoarse voice resulting from yelling out after the victory. “Yesterday, coming to the line, I was really happy, but I only stay happy for a short period of time, thinking let’s move on as I wonder what is next.”

To win, you must have a good car and drive the hell out of it, and you have to drive better than anyone else

Juan Pablo Montoya on winning Indy

According to Indianapolis 500 historian Donald Davidson, 858 drivers have competed in the Indianapolis 500 and only 68 of them have driven into victory lane, even fewer have won it multiple times.

Congrats from around the globe

With the Indianapolis 500 recognized as one of the biggest races anywhere and given his background in Formula 1 and NASCAR, Montoya has been deluged with congratulatory messages from all corners of the globe.  “I have gotten a lot of messages from F1 engineers I have worked with; people care, which is great to me,” he stated.

Montoya steadfastly stated it was a whole team effort that propelled him to victory, and instead of thinking of himself as the star driver, he says he’s just part of the crew.  “We all work hard and they put in more hours than I do, so I am just one of them,” he said with conviction.

Celebrating with the crew

So connected is he with the team, Montoya met up with his crew in a downtown Indianapolis bar to celebrate, and they watched the delayed telecast of the race on television.   

Thereafter, Montoya, a non-drinker, departed while the crew carried on for a while.

Montoya came to Indianapolis as an outsider and a CART regular 15 years ago when he last won. Due to his accomplished background, he got a waiver to skip the mandatory rookie test and just went about doing his job, but he did develop an immediate respect for the famed track.  

“To win, you must have a good car and drive the hell out of it, and you have to drive better than anyone else. If you don’t, you don’t win,” he commented in his customary nonchalant voice.

An uphill battle

The cars were so much different in 2000, especially in a CART race car. “In a CART car, you had so much power and you could literally drive away from the field,” he commented. “With the aero kits used today, it is fun and amazing how close and competitive it is. My pass for the lead was just as hard as when I tried to pass Oriol Servia for 28th. There were no easy passes. You have to wait for the other guy to make a mistake.”

Asked about his outlook when he found himself deep in the pack, he said, “After I overshot the pits, I came out 15th and then I passed nine cars on the next run with one car to pass when the caution came out.  I just had to be patient then as I could see the lead pack ahead of me. At the beginning I didn’t think the car was good enough to win, but after doing a lot of work, I told the guys I think we have a chance. But once I got to third and Scott Dixon blew by us, I thought we were screwed, but what goes around comes around.” 

Running mid-pack offers nothing to Montoya and he wants no part of that, which admittedly is one of the reasons he exited NASCAR and also Formula 1. And he never expected to return to Indianapolis, believing he would have been retired by now.

More special than the first

One reason making this victory so special for Montoya is that his three young children were born after his victory in 2000, but they were on hand Sunday to share the limelight with their famous father, even drinking the milk in victory lane.

Said wife Connie Montoya, who was not around in 2000, “I am overwhelmed by the victory. It was just perfect, although I couldn’t watch most of the race. I didn’t want to listen or watch it.  Our children weren’t with me during the race as they were in our motor home but they did enjoy being here.”

Pablo Montoya, the proud father, was with his son in 2000. “Well, I am really happy to see my son win for the second time in three Indianapolis 500s,” he commented. “It is a very big accomplishment for him.”

Montoya is an intense competitor and can’t wait for the next race wherever it is, and he not only is focused on winning but in coming home the Verizon IndyCar Series champion in 2015.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Event Indy 500
Track Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Article type Interview