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MONTOYA, INDY 500 CHAMPION’S TOUR RECEIVES TEXAS-SIZED WELCOME ON VISIT TO FORT WORTH

A world-wind tour awaits the driver who wins the Indianapolis 500 and that continued Wednesday evening for recently crowned champion Juan Pablo Montoya.

The 39-year-old Team Penske driver was still basking in the glow of last Sunday’s victory as he received a Texas-sized welcome at the iconic Joe T. Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant in the historic Stockyards district of Fort Worth following a full day of media obligations in New York City.

Montoya, who can now call himself a two-time winner of the Indy 500 as he added last Sunday’s win to his previous one from 2000, began his evening being escorted by Rojo, a 3,000-pound longhorn steer, and a cowboy drover from the famous Fort Worth Herd on the street in front of Joe T. Garcia’s.

As he made his way into the iconic restaurant, Montoya also was serenaded by the colorful Mariachi Real de Alvarez band before visiting with nearly 250 Texas Motor Speedway season ticketholders, sponsors, Speedway Club members and Dallas/Fort Worth media.

“I left for New York and rang the bell (at the New York Stock Exchange) and did some interviews and had something to eat,” Montoya said. “When I’m done here, I’m going to Detroit with a full schedule again. It’s cool. I don’t mind helping INDYCAR and helping Verizon and Team Penske to get behind and promote the series. It’s pretty awesome. I think the race was really cool.”

Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage remembered that Montoya had once told him he had never been to The Speedway Club, the building that includes a restaurant, spa and fitness center that is located outside Turn 1 of the 1.5”mile speedway. Gossage took care of that as he made Montoya an honorary member of the club, presenting him with an honorary plaque with a key to the Speedway Club along with a personalized Speedway Club robe to wear on his return trip to Texas Motor Speedway for next week’s Firestone 600.

Indy-car legend and three”time Indy 500 winner Johnny Rutherford, of Fort Worth, joined Montoya and Gossage in the front of the crowd for a special milk toast in champagne glasses to celebrate the Colombian’s Indy 500 triumph.

Montoya set a record during last Sunday’s race as he recorded the longest span between Indy 500 victories – 15 years. He also joined his Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves as the only drivers in race history to win twice in their first three Indianapolis 500 starts.

“I don’t do it for the resume,” said Montoya, who also has competed and won in Formula One, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the 24 Hours At Daytona as well as being a CART champion. “I race because I love it. Being here in INDYCAR with Team Penske, it’s been amazing. I’m just trying to win more here. We’ve got two wins with four podiums out of six races. Right now that is what I’ve told my guys, ‘At this point you’ve got to dig deeper because it’s not going to be easy.’ Nobody is going to make it easy for us. If you want something, you’ve got to take it for yourself.”

Montoya, the current Verizon IndyCar Series points leader – 25 points ahead of Team Penske teammate Will Power – will be looking to become the fifth driver to win the Indianapolis 500 and a race at Texas Motor Speedway in the same year when he returns for next Saturday night’s Firestone 600.

Montoya is no stranger to Texas Motor Speedway, having raced at the Fort Worth track during his seven seasons in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with Chip Ganassi Racing. In his 14 career starts he finished tallied two top-10 finishes.

Last year was his first race at Texas Motor Speedway in the Verizon IndyCar Series and he turned in an outstanding performance. He qualified fourth and led 13 laps en route to a third-place finish, his first podium finish of the 2014 season. It’s that momentum he built up last season starting at Texas Motor Speedway that has Montoya ready for the Firestone 600.

“Big ovals like Texas were good for us,” Montoya said. “We had to come from the back of the pack and we did good. I’m so open-minded about it and I think that really helps. I don’t get worked up if I qualify bad or if we have an issue.”

When INDYCAR returns for next week’s Firestone 600, the cars will have a different look with the series’ new aero kits that are expected to further enhance the racing and overall speeds at Texas.

“The (Indy 500) race was great,” Montoya said. “People are saying that it was the best race in years that they have seen and it was thanks to the aero kit. You can follow people harder, you can race them harder. I had a blast with it. I think here in Texas, mostly with the wings, works. I’m excited about coming here to Texas.”

Tickets for the Firestone 600 Verizon IndyCar Series race, as well as next Friday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino & Resort 400, are available by contacting the Texas Motor Speedway ticket office at (817) 215-8500 or by visiting www.texasmotorspeedway.com.

About the author

The Texas Motor Speedway Media Relations Department is located on the 6th floor of The Speedway Club outside of Turn 1 of the speedway. 

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