A number of team changes, a lengthy stint in NASCAR and even some career turmoil: A lot has changed since Juan Pablo Montoya’s 2000 win at the Indianapolis 500.
One thing that hasn’t is the man can sure drive a car. Montoya overcame teammate Will Power down the stretch Sunday, capturing his second win of 2015 and second Indianapolis 500. The Spaniard overcame a disappointing qualifying effort to battle his teammate for most of the day, eventually taking the lead for good with three laps remaining.
As noted by Phillip B. Wilson of Scout.com, Montoya’s two wins have the largest gap in history:
The two races also have their fair share of other contrasts. In 2000, Montoya led 167 of the 200 laps in one of the most dominant performances in Indy 500 history. On Sunday, he led only nine, taking the lead when it mattered most and holding on late.
Matt Rodewald of 670 The Score highlighted the contrast:
Montoya’s triumph comes in his second year since his return to open-wheel racing. He finished fourth in the point standings in 2014, regularly contending but never quite reaching his former heights. Things have flipped on their head this year, as Montoya has five top-fives in six races while galloping to the IndyCar points lead.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. congratulated his former Sprint Cup competitor on the success:
Power, Charlie Kimball, Scott Dixon and Graham Rahal rounded out the top five. Montoya, Power and Dixon spent a majority of the day battling, with the latter two, trading the lead a number of times. Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated complimented Power for his congratulatory post-race interview:
Open-wheel legend Mario Andretti also complimented Power and Montoya for their late-race battle:
While not the distinction he’d necessarily want, Dixon is the first pole-sitter to ever finish fourth, per Jake Query of IMS Radio Network:
As is typical of the Indy 500, there were plenty of racers who didn’t have their days ending in glory. The likes of Tony Kanaan and Ed Carpenter each fell well out of competition after crashes. It was Carpenter’s second wreck in as many weeks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, though this one was far less severe than his qualifying wreck. Mike Dyce of FanSided documented Kanaan’s crash:
Other notable on-track moments included Tristan Vautier running into two members of James Davison’s pit crew and a multicar crash that paused the race for multiple minutes down the stretch. XFinity Sports captured both events:
Despite the occasional scary moment, the biggest day in open-wheel motorsports went off without a hitch and saw Montoya arguably return to his place atop the sport. There is no telling whether this is a blip or a sign of things to come. But two wins in three career races likely mean Montoya’s here to stay among the Indy 500 contenders.