Juan Pablo Montoya is returning to IndyCar after 13 years with Formula One and NASCAR. (Harry How / Getty Images)
Detroit — Juan Pablo Montoya feels like he’s home again, returning to IndyCar after a 13-year run in Formula One and NASCAR.
And what better way to return than with Roger Penske and teaming up with Helio Castroneves and Will Power.
“I think I’m with the right team in the right circumstances right now to maybe get another win and I think Roger definitely deserves another one and I’ll be going after it,” Montoya said during a stop at the North American International Auto Show Friday. “They’ve been extremely close the last four years (winning a series title) and it’s a matter of getting our heads together.
“I think all three of us have a chance to win, but you have to perform week in and week out to get it done.”
Sam Hornish gave Penske his last series championship in 2006. Power finished second from 2010-12, and Castroneves was second last year.
Montoya last competed in IndyCar in 2000. He won 11 races in two seasons competing for Chip Ganassi, setting a rookie record with seven wins and winning the CART championship in 1999. He won the Indianapolis 500 and Michigan 500 in 2000.
He then moved to Formula One in 2001, joining Williams-BMW, where he won four times in four years. Among his victories was the Monaco Grand Prix in 2003, joining Graham Hill as the only drivers to win the Indianapolis 500 and Monaco Grand Prix. Montoya is the only driver to win the CART title, the Indianapolis 500 and the 24 Hours of Daytona.
After winning three races for McLaren in 2005, Montoya went winless in 10 races in 2006 and moved to NASCAR, where he again joined Ganassi. They didn’t, however, enjoy the same success and parted ways last summer after two wins in 253 events.
“The cars are very different from the last time I drove them,” Montoya said of the Indy Cars. “They are more like the Formula One car with carbon breaks, hand clutch and all that stuff. I just have to learn the cars and understand them a little better.”
“We’ve had six tests, the December testing went real well, but we struggled with the car this past test at Sebring. We’ll be testing at (two-mile superspeedway) at Fontana in early February.”
Montoya also talked about the IndyCar doubleheader at Belle Isle this summer, May 31 and June 1.
It’s the second year of the doubleheader.
“I think it’s going to be hard,” said Montoya, who raced at Belle Isle in 1999 and 2000. “I’ve been on the pole here twice and dominated twice and never won (finishing 17th in 1999, 18th in 2000).
“There are a few races that I really want to get and this is one of them, but to be honest with you I’m more of a guy that just goes week by week.”
And in the process, Montoya will try to beat his former boss, Ganassi, who has won the series championship five of the last six years. Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan joins Scott Dixon, Charlie Kimball and Ryan Briscoe on the team.
“It’s good to have him back,” Kimball said of Montoya. “He’s a big name, won the Indy 500. One of the things I’ve enjoyed about racing in IndyCar is when I won at Mid-Ohio (last season) I knew I had beaten the best. You want to race the best.”