Juan Pablo Montoya earns $2.4 million with second Indy 500 victory
Juan Pablo Montoya showed up at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Monday morning for the annual winner’s photo after winning 99th Indianapolis 500 without much of a voice. He lost it from screaming so loud after crossing under the checkered flag just 0.1046 seconds in front of Team Penske teammate Will Power in a thrilling race on Sunday.
He whooped it up even more in victory lane, did interviews until 9 p.m. on Sunday night before joining his Team Penske crew for a unique bicycle ride around downtown Indianapolis known as a "Party on Wheels." Then, it was off to a bar in Indianapolis to watch the rebroadcast of the race.
Montoya does not drink but the cheering, celebrating and staying up late had taken its toll by the time he returned to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway early Monday morning for the traditional photos on the “Yard of Bricks” — the start/finish line of the 2.5-mile speedway.
The celebration continued into Monday Night’s Indianapolis 500 Victory Awards Celebration where Montoya earned a check for $2,449,055 from an overall purse of $13,397,315 for his victory in the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500.
“All the fans — it’s amazing that when you walk out on race day to see all the people,” Montoya said. “We showed everyone what IndyCar racing is all about in that race on Sunday.
“There are 100 ways to lose this race and only one way to win it and we found out how to win it on Sunday.”
When Montoya won the Indianapolis 500 as a rookie in 2000, he dominated the race by leading 167 laps in the 200-lap contest. In just his third Indy 500 finish on Sunday, Montoya led four times for nine laps as he drove an IndyCar owned by Rogers Penske to victory lane in the 500 for a record 16th time.
Montoya became the 19th different driver to win the Indianapolis 500 more than one time and he already has his sights set on the a drive toward the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. He heads to this weekend’s doubleheader at Belle Isle in Detroit as the IndyCar Series points leader with a 25-point lead over teammate Power.
“Even last night I was thinking, ‘Okay, we got to make sure, we done really well this year so far, we got pretty much four podiums in six races, two wins out of six races. We got to make sure we keep the ball rolling if we want to try to win the championship,’” Montoya said Monday. “You know that Will is going to be there every week. Scott Dixon is going to be there every week, so… It’s going to be hard.”
The 15-year span between Montoya’s first and second victories is the longest in Indianapolis 500 history. The previous long drought was the 10 years between A.J. Foyt’s third Indy 500 win in 1967 and his record fourth in 1977.
In Montoya’s case, the 15-year drought is a little misleading because he joined Formula One after the 2000 season. He left F1 in 2006 and became a NASCAR Sprint Cup driver from 2007-2013 before retuning to IndyCar in 2014 for Team Penske.
“It sounds funny when you say 15 years,” Montoya said. “It sounds like a long time. To be honest, we have done so many things apart from IndyCar, I really just done this three times. I still feel like I got to learn a lot. Like I still feel like we suck in qualifying. We were unlucky, but we’re not as good as we need to be.
“We really worked, to be honest with you, in race trim, to make sure I could run the car the way I wanted to, be comfortable with it, be aggressive with it. That’s what we did and we were good.”
Montoya’s victory was watched and celebrated by his former competitors in NASCAR, who sent him congratulations before Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“I got messages from the guys from NASCAR and I got messages from my old racing years in Formula One, people that I worked with in Formula One,” Montoya admitted. “It’s pretty cool. You know, people care. I think whoever I’m working with, I feel I’m part of the family. Here at Penske, especially. They make you really part of the family.
“But I always feel like I’m part of the crew. I don’t feel like I’m above any guys. We all work as hard. They put actually more hours than I do to give me the car to be able to do this.
“I do consider this to be a complete team effort.”
By winning the Indy 500, Montoya has a busy week. It’s off to New York on Tuesday for a Media Tour and then a trip to Dallas on Wednesday to promote the upcoming IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. On Thursday, it’s off to Detroit for the next two rounds of the Verizon IndyCar Series with races on Saturday and Sunday.
“This week we had a lot of time early in the week to work on Detroit,” Montoya said. “We looked at setups already. We looked at where we want to start, the things we want to try. We kept moving forward, to be honest. You have to. You never plan on winning.
“Like the wife (Connie) yesterday, she said, I need to organize the bags for New York before the race.
“I said, ‘What are you smoking?’”
Connie’s confidence paid off as Montoya started 15th, had issues early that put him all the way back to 30th and he was able to race his way back to the front of the field to contend for the win.
“I had a really good car — I had a good shot at winning this,” Montoya said. “So do a lot of people, so… it’s good to run that good. You know what I mean? It’s good to come to these races with a shot. It makes it fun.”
Montoya is taking the same attitude that won him the Indy 500 to the streets of Belle Isle in Detroit.
“What is it going to take to win Detroit? Same thing,” Montoya said. “You got to have a good car and you got to drive the hell out of it. If you drive better and do a better job than anybody else, you’re going to freaking win it. If you don’t, you don’t.
At 39, Montoya has simplified what it takes to be successful in his second career in IndyCar racing. When he won the Indy 500 15 years ago as a youngster, he didn’t think he would be racing this long.
“To be honest with you, I thought I’d retire about 35 at Formula One,” Montoya said. “That’s when people in racing retire. That’s what I thought.”
Montoya has learned that he still has it takes to win, well past 35. He proved that with his second Indy 500 victory on Sunday.
Be sure to catch Bruce Martin’s Honda IndyCar Report on RACEDAY on FOX Sports Radio every Sunday from 6-8 a.m. ET.