Juan Pablo Montoya completed his fourth day of testing -- and second on a road/street course -- in a Team Penske car Dec. 16 at Sonoma Raceway in preparation for his return to open-wheel racing in 2014.
The Formula One and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series veteran, who will compete in the IndyCar Series full time next season in the No. 2 Team Penske car, is familiar with the 1.99-mile stock car configuration of the road course. He took his maiden laps on the 2.38-mile configuration used by the IndyCar Series.
“It’s hard to go to the places where I’ve been in a stock car because my mind is not right,” said Montoya, who won his first NASCAR road-course race in 2007 at Sonoma Raceway. “My mind says one thing and my foot says another. They don’t agree. You go wide open through the Esses and my mind is saying ‘You can do it’ and my foot is saying ‘No, I’m coming out.’ I just need a little more confidence in the car and seeing what the car can do. You really got to try to build it up.”
Montoya completed about 50 laps, with an emphasis on hitting his marks on the track. The team went through three sets of tires and practiced pit stops. He also tested at Sebring International Raceway, the one-mile Phoenix International Raceway oval and the two-mile Auto Club Speedway oval.
Montoya's next on-track action will be in mid-January at Sebring along with teammates Helio Castroneves and Will Power.
"It’s great to be back; great for the series," Montoya said. "It’s great for everybody. The cars are so much fun to drive. I think the series does a great job of bringing the races to the people with the street courses; the cars are faster, it’s fun. I’ve got a lot of success in open wheel, but I’m not trying to talk too much about it. Do I want to win every week? Yes, of course I do, but with Will and Helio, I have two really strong teammates, people I can learn from and with time, hopefully we can win.
"I want to win races. It’s a shorter season, the cars are faster, we do street courses, road courses, small ovals, big ovals. It’s going to be a lot fun. It’s a big change. You come from something that you have to lift a lot and slide around a lot but with this you slide around a lot but you’re sliding around about 50 miles per hour faster. There’s not a lot of runoff here so it’s easy to get it wrong. I’m trying to build to it. The transition is going to be tremendous."
Montoya will compete in the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway on Aug. 22-24, 2014. The event will mark his first IndyCar Series start in Sonoma, following seven consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts on the road course.
For more information about the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma or to reserve tickets, visit racesonoma.com/indycar or call 800-870-RACE (7223).