Montoya eager to return to TMS as IndyCar driver

Though he has raced at Texas Motor Speedway many times before, Saturday will mark his first race as an IndyCar driver, and Juan Pablo Montoya couldn't be more ready.

IndyCar Series driver Juan Pablo Montoya

Andrew Weber / USA TODAY Sports

Juan Pablo Montoya will be a string of five top 20 finishes in his last six starts at Texas Motor Speedway to the track Saturday.

Of course that experience means nothing for the Colombian driver as that experience was accrued during 14 starts in the Sprint Cup Series.

Montoya will be making his Texas IndyCar Series at the Firestone 600 Saturday in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske car.

It's something Montoya is looking forward to.

"I think Texas is going to be exciting," said Montoya. "I've done a lot of races in the Cup car. I know where the bumps are. I know where all the details are."

And while Montoya hasn't raced at TMS in the IndyCars, he does have experience from a preseason practice. That knowledge should help Montoya, who is seventh in the point standings.

Montoya, who made a name for himself with daring moves in both CART and NASCAR, knows you don't have to worry about letting up at the 2 ½-mile quadoval in this series.

"My race line was exactly my Cup line," he said of his practice. "Indy cars make big arcs and I wasn't. It was hard because it was 30-35 mile winds. It was funny because all the ovals you can run wide open by yourself. In my mind I wanted to run flat out. We were running flat out, running wide open by lunch break."

The adjustment from NASCAR to IndyCar has been a smooth one for Montoya because the series fits his driving style. Passes rely more on decision making than drafting, which suits his approach.

"You can make your own destiny," he said. "That's different than NASCAR. If you make a move here you don't need anyone's help. It's pretty cool."

Montoya knows that from his open-wheel experience too. He raced in the CART series in 1999 and 2000 and also raced in the Indianapolis 500 in 2000, winning his only start in the series. He won 10 races in the CART series in his two years, including seven while winning the championship in 1999.

He hasn't won yet this year but he does have a pair of top-10 finishes. That's not what he wants driving in one for one of the series' power teams but he knows better days are ahead for him.

"It's all about getting the job done," he said. "I'm taking a really smart approach at how in drive the car. It's been working. You always want more. I don't want fourth or fifth. I feel like I'm driving the hell out of the car. I feel good about driving the hell out of the car. Results happen a lot quicker and a lot easier."