Juan Pablo Montoya’s first day back competing in the NTT IndyCar Series after an absence of 1,447 days did not go according to plan.
The 1999 CART champion and two-time Indy 500 winner endured three complicated sessions in the No. 86 Arrow McLaren SP Chevy, with the final outing in qualifying leaving the Colombian in a contemplative state after ending up 25th.
“It’s been a difficult day to say the least,” Montoya said. “It’s hard because in practice we had two or three runs with two or three laps. First practice, we started where I thought we were going to be, a little off but competitive. Second practice, we lost the car with the changes and it really hurt us. Qualifying, we came back a bit and the car felt a little better and I did a better job. There’s a lot of things I need to improve myself but coming to the road course and understanding the bigger picture, it’s a great exercise in preparation for the Indianapolis 500.”
Despite starting last in the field, the 45-year-old was not alone as AMSP peaked with Felix Rosenqvist in the No. 7 Chevy at 13th, and settled with Texas Round 2 winner Pato O’Ward in a surprisingly low 18th in the No. 5 Chevy. Altogether, the team has some speed to find before the green flag waves over Saturday’s GMR Grand Prix.
“It was definitely a learning day for Arrow McLaren SP at Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” said team president Taylor Kiel. “We came into the day looking to get Juan Pablo and the No. 86 crew up to speed and I think we were able to accomplish that. It was his first time in an Indy car since 2017, so I think it was good to spend the day getting reacquainted with everything. I think Pato and Felix definitely showed some speed throughout the day but we were just off the pace in qualifying.
“We will work hard as a team tonight to determine what we can do better and hopefully look to make up positions for all three drivers tomorrow. A lot can happen in 85 laps and I have a lot of confidence in this team and our drivers.”