It was a bad day in St. Petersburg for a lot of fantasy racing players as pole-sitter and heavy favorite Will Power was forced to sit out the Grand Prix due to a concussion, leaving Oriol Servia to drive the number 12 Penske car in the inaugural race of the 2016 IndyCar season. Even if he hadn’t fallen ill, however, it wouldn’t have mattered- because Juan Pablo Montoya delivered a master class in racing to take the win.
Juan Pablo Montoya Wins in St. Pete
“I feel like we can get a lot of wins this year,” said Montoya, a two-time Indy 500 winner who lost the 2015 Drivers’ Championship to Scott Dixon on a technicality. “It’s nice to start the year with a win. To be honest with you, when you’re in Team Penske, there’s always that pressure that you got to win races. You have to win. You’re in the best car, you got to win races.”
Talk like that from a driver like Montoya must be pretty intimidating to his rivals. Perhaps even more so to his teammates, and fellow Penske drivers will have to come to terms with the fact that Montoya was driving faster than they were in a car with only three brakes (one of the rears reportedly went “cold” in the middle of the race) and a steering problem. “The steering dropped to the left,” said Montoya, after the race. “Every time I braked, I went straight. Something broke there, but that’s okay.”
“That’s OK,” is probably the most terrifying thing Montoya’s rivals will hear all month. “You look at my last three laps, I took it easy. I used the ‘push to pass’ to make up some time because I had like seven left with three laps to go. Just abuse it on the straight.”
That’s right, kids. Montoya had seven “push to pass” runs in his back pocket- you know, in case Pagenaud got close enough to make a run on him.
Further back, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Takuma Sato put in solid performances for the Honda teams that were overshadowed in qualifying. “It’s always physical here. This is one of those tracks that really takes it out of you,” said Hunter-Reay. “This is a good way to start the season. We got everything out of the car today. It was really nice to get by Helio at the end for the podium. That was a small, tiny little victory for us.”
Surprise of the Race: Conor Daly
Another bright spot for Honda was the surprising brilliance of rookie driver Conor Daly, who led a full 15 laps of today’s race in an under-funded Dale Coyne Honda that, frankly, nothing much was expected of. “It was nice to be up there. We got the Coyne strategy going,” said Daly. “The car was fantastic on (Firestone red tires), and I just kept learning the whole race … to follow Montoya? You don’t get a much better instructor than that.”
You can check out the rest of the official results of the 2016 IndyCar Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, below, then let us know what you thought of the action in today’s race in the comments section at the bottom of the page. Enjoy!
|INDYCAR 2016: ST. PETERSBURG RESULTS – FINAL|
|Car No.||Driver||Engine||Grid Pos.|
|2||Juan Pablo Montoya||Chevrolet||1|
|98||Alexander Rossi ®||Honda||12|
|18||Conor Daly ®||Honda||13|
|16||Spencer Pigot ®||Honda||14|
|8||Max Chilton ®||Chevrolet||17|