Verizon IndyCar Series Race Report
Track: Phoenix International Raceway
Race: Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix
Date: April 2, 2016
No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet – Juan Pablo Montoya
Start: 3rd Finish: 9th Status: Running Laps Completed: 250/250 Laps Led: 1 time for 56 laps Points Position (behind leader): 3rd (-9 pts.)
Recap: Juan Pablo Montoya looked to be in a good position to claim his second straight victory to start the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season before a tire issue derailed the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet. After starting third in Saturday night’s return to Phoenix International Raceway (PIR), Montoya passed Tony Kanaan on Lap 23 to claim second place. When teammate and then race leader Helio Castroneves suffered a cut tire and had to pit, Montoya seized the lead on Lap 40. The 2015 Indy 500 winner led the next 56 laps in the Verizon Chevy but Montoya’s tire went flat on Lap 96 and he was forced to pit lane. Dropping as low as 20th in the running order, Montoya then slowly began to work his way back up front. He moved up to 14th by Lap 118 and he got past Castroneves for 12th on Lap 151. Montoya then really began turning up the heat as he improved three positions in three laps before his final pit stop of the day on Lap 203. After that, Montoya broke inside the top 10 and improved to ninth with nine laps remaining as he recorded his 24th top 10 finish since joining Team Penske in 2014.
Quote: “This was more of an attrition race because we are the fastest cars but you get hit with yellows and cut tires so it’s not a true sense of what our cars were capable of. Simon and Will showed through, but with Helio and myself we got caught up with a cut tire, so it would have been a totally different race. Phoenix is a short oval and the speeds kept up, but everybody was on alert and everybody was pretty close. I thought there would be a lot more gaps, but everyone was pretty much in the same zone. The car kept getting a vibration and then it would settle and then would go from a three car gap to a 15 to 20 car gap. Overall, the Verizon Chevy was pushing pretty hard and was still able to stay in the top 10. Not the finish we wanted, but we’ll look ahead to Long Beach and go from there.”