After getting up to speed on Friday’s second day of the Open Test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Juan Pablo Montoya weighed in on the current aero configuration of the cars and the idea of adding a push to pass power boost to bolster overtaking. The Colombian — a two-time Indy 500 winner in just five career starts in the 500 — offered a contrary opinion to the consensus that emerged among drivers following last month’s push to pass test at Indy.
“I felt OK,” Montoya said of his Friday runs in his No. 86 Arrow McLaren SP Chevy, which put him third fastest behind Josef Newgarden and reigning Indy champ Takuma Sato. “I did pass (a) few cars and everything. I could move, I could change; I felt pretty decent at parts.
“The thing is, remember, every run you do, you change something. You don’t keep the same car. You’re always trying to improve the feeling, improve the car to maybe be more consistent in clean air, more consistent in the draft, things like that.
“As you go through those things, there’s some runs that you go out there, you’re just in the way, and you hate it. I said like three times today, ‘Hell, I’m not doing this.’ Actually the word wasn’t ‘hell’ but I’m using the polite word. I said, ‘I’m not doing this’ and I bailed.
“One of them actually bailed and really scared the hell out of me in (Turns) 3 and 4. I lifted and I didn’t even do Turn 1. I went in the deceleration lane. ‘I’m not doing this.’
“It’s a shame, I mean… some people tried the push to pass (at the earlier test). But it would make racing quite more wild, I think. I know some people don’t want wild.”
Friday pacesetter Newgarden, who was among those not in favor of adding push to pass at Indy after the earlier test, felt that the aero package developed following testing at Indy last November should improve the show on race day.
“It’s easier to follow. It’s still tough,” said the Team Penske driver. “You’ll still get a big front wash in traffic. Ten cars back, it’s always going to be difficult. But I think they’ve made the ability to follow better. That balance separation between clean air and dirty air is definitely reduced.
“I think you have a better opportunity this year looking at the amount of downforce we have, the balance shift in and out of traffic. I think you have a better opportunity to fight for the win in the third or fourth car in line.
“More than that, (if) you somehow find yourself in the back, I think you have a better opportunity of making your way forward. Those two elements will automatically help the show. But you don’t want to have it so easy where we’re packed up the entire field the entire time. I think that’s something that you would want to avoid.
“It’s a balancing act. I think it will be a lot better than last year as far as the ability to race up front. Time will tell. But I think you’ll have a better show.”
Montoya felt this year’s configuration to be a little different than he remembered, but still longed for more power.
“They’re a little harder to drive — I think the difference between clear air and dirty air is a little bigger,” he said. “I think the changes IndyCar did, from what everybody says, it’s a little harder than before, but not that bad, put it that way.
“After running today, I would be a big fan of that push to pass, to be honest.”