Juan Pablo Montoya's comportment regarding his season-long standing atop the Verizon IndyCar Series standings has served him well. Now, with a once commanding position turned tenuous, the veteran driver's mental approach to the final two races of the season is unwavering.
"The best way to earn points is winning, and we can only control what we do, not what others do," said Montoya, who enters this weekend's ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway with a nine-point lead over Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing's Graham Rahal and a 34-point margin on Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon. "It's unfortunate that we have given back some points over the last few races. Our results at Iowa and Mid-Ohio weren't anything that we could control. The No. 2 Verizon Chevy team gave me good cars and we had ourselves in decent positions to have good finishes."
Team Penske teammates Helio Castroneves is fourth (58 points out of first) and Will Power, the reigning series champion, is fifth (59 points behind). The GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on Aug. 30 at Sonoma Raceway is worth double points so, mathematically, any driver within 104 points of the leader heading into the finale remains eligible.
"It's going to be right down to the wire," team owner Roger Penske said. "Dixon is very good out there. Rahal is on a bit of a roll right now. We just have to keep our head on, and I think Montoya is the kind of guy you want on your driver's team when it comes down to a fight."
Montoya, who has produced masterful results in 500-mile race in his Indy car career, won from the pole at “The Tricky Triangle” last July (his last earned Indy car pole), with Castroneves finishing 2.3 seconds back in second place. Power, who started on the front row, finished 10th but retained his championship points lead.
“One of the cool things about Team Penske is that every week you’re fighting one of your teammates for pole,” said Montoya, who overtook Tony Kanaan to lead the final four laps in the fastest 500-mile Indy car race in history at 202.402 mph.
Dixon advanced 10 position relative to his starting spot to finish fifth and Rahal placed 19th (contact). In 2013, Dixon led a Chip Ganassi Racing Teams sweep of the podium with Charlie Kimball and Dario Franchitti.
Kanaan, who is ninth in the standings, is aiming for the career Triple Crown. He won the 2013 Indianapolis 500 and the 2014 season finale at Auto Club Speedway. ... In all but 2011, a Team Penske driver has led the championship with two races left since 2009. ... The nine points between 1-2 is the fourth-closest margin with two to go since 2007. The 34 points between 1-3 is the closest margin since 2009. ... Montoya led the 1999 CART standings with two races left on the way to claiming the title.
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