With the addition of Juan Pablo Montoya to the Team Penske ranks in 2014, the current Penske drivers will be getting exactly what they’ve been asking for.
Penske’s Will Power has never been shy about wanting the fastest teammates possible to push him beyond his limits, and in that department, the Aussie should have his hands full with JPM. Penske’s Helio Castroneves has always incorporated his teammates’ better practices into his own driving style, and with Montoya, the ageless Brazilian could grow his ever-expanding toolbox with some of what makes the Colombian such a threat on road and street courses.
As both drivers shared with RACER Monday morning, having Montoya in a third Team Penske Chevy next year is nothing but a positive development for the legendary program.
“I’m really happy to see him come onboard, happy to have him in IndyCar, and he’s done so much winning in CART and F1, that having such a well-credentialed driver join the team can only have massive benefits,” said Power. “Obviously, I’ve spent a little bit of time with him. He’s a very switched-on guy. I can tell he’s going to be an excellent development driver and I’ve definitely looking forward to working with him.
“I think he’s going to help and he’s going to push all of us. He’s quick, man. He’s very serious about what he does and he’s seriously fast. That’s exactly the type of guy that we need.”
For Castroneves, who holds a 49-point lead over Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon with three races remaining in the championship, having an old friend and sparring partner alongside him in 2014 will be a welcome challenge
“Certainly it’s a great addition for the team. It’s funny; we’ve been racing against each other since 1990 in go-karts. I didn’t speak English back then, so he was the only one who could communicate…” he said with a laugh.
“Then I saw him in Europe when I was driving for Paul Stewart Racing in British Formula 3 and he was in Formula Vauxhall, and then we raced against each other in CART starting in 1999, so this is a cool development to have him back and as my teammate. It’s going to be great. Hopefully we can keep battling for championships.”
Castroneves, who turned 38 in May, is confident having a senior member of the open-wheel community in the team will bring added value to the program.
“Age, according to my generation, isn’t a big deal,” he said. “Tony [Kanaan] won the Indy 500, Dario [Franchitti] won a bunch of championships latelywe’ve seen that age isn’t a big deal. If anything, you want a guy with a lot of experience compared to a guy who doesn’t have a lot of time in these cars; that’s what the records are showing lately, and I think Juan will fit right in and be able to be right there on his lap times. I don’t think it will be a problem. Penske’s a deep organization and can run multiple cars easily, so this is going to be big for us.”
Montoya’s loyal followers should also be a boost to the IndyCar Series, according to Castroneves.
“I think for the series, this is great to have him back,” he added. “Someone with that kind of magnitude is what we need, and he’s the guy in Colombia. You’re going to see a lot of Colombian flags in the stands again. It’s more of an international series than NASCAR, so I expect the full Latin community to follow him to IndyCar and support him and that’s a great plus for all of us.”
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