SEBRING, Fla. --Juan Pablo Montoya stepped out of the car after his first IndyCar Series test with Penske Racing and graciously shook hands with his team members. His children ran to their father and they embraced as the team watched on.
It was a merge between his actual family, and his new racing family.
"You know what's amazing and what's been great, is everybody here at Team Penske," Montoya said. "Their dedication and people are unbelievable. I’m honored to be here.
"Gil de Ferran (two-time champion with Penske Racing) told me, 'You will not believe when you work with these people,' and he wasn’t kidding. Every person on this team cares. It’s pretty unbelievable.”
Montoya completed his first day of testing with Penske Racing on Nov. 25 at Sebring International Raceway. It was a day of learning for the 38-year-old Colombian, who had not driven an open-wheel car since 2006 when he competed in Formula One.
With Will Power and Helio Castroneves as teammates, Team Penske boasts a stout driver lineup for 2014. Team president Tim Cindric is optimistic on what Montoya's addition will bring to the team.
"I think the difference is going to be getting him to understand what it takes to win," Cindric said. "I think somebody like Will really understands not only how to go fast, but how to save fuel. When to save fuel. Who your competitors are. Which ones you can trust, which ones you can’t. I don’t care who you are, it’s going to take some time to learn those nuances.
"One strength that Juan has is that he’s mentally tough. He doesn’t let the little things bother him much. I think he takes a pretty simple approach and I think that could pay off for him in the series. Helio has always been the model of consistency. For us a team, we have to figure out how to put a whole season together."
The trio of drivers have time to form a chemistry. The team has more tests planned for Montoya, and Castroneves lives in the Ft. Lauderdale/Miami area, where Montoya also resides. The season officially starts a few hours north on March 30 in St. Petersburg.
Until then, Montoya will temper his expectations.
"Do I want to win? Of course I want to win," he said. "Do I want to do the best I can? Yeah. How good is that going to be? I don’t know. You have to beat Will, who is one of the fastest guys in the series. Helio has a ton of experience. I ran against him when I won the championship, and he’s still doing it. For them to get in the car every day it’s no big deal. This is their home, and I need to make this my home.”