The 2000 and 2015 winner is aiming for his first Indy 500 start since 2017, this time at the wheel of an Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet, and today it appeared that he and the team’s technical director Craig Hampson seemed to have come up with setups that allowed a variety of lines to be taken, and for Montoya to pull off passing maneuvers without the cooperation of the car in front.
However, responding to Motorsport.com’s question about his performance, Montoya said that from inside the cockpit, not everything was so smooth.
“I felt OK,” he replied, “I didn’t feel as good as you said. It’s great that it looks like that!
“I did pass few cars and everything, I could move, I could change, I felt pretty decent at parts.
“The thing is, remember, every run you do, you change something. You don’t keep the same car, keep doing things. You’re always trying to improve the feeling, improve the car to maybe be more consistent in clean air, more consistent in the draft, things like that. As you go through those things, there’s some runs that you go out there and you’re just in the way, and you hate it.
“I said like three times today, ‘Hell, I’m not doing this!’ Actually the word wasn’t ‘hell’ but I’m using the polite word. I said, ‘I’m not doing this,’ and I bailed. One of them actually bailed and really scared the hell out of me in [Turns] 3 and 4. I lifted and I didn’t even do Turn 1. I went in the deceleration lane. I’m not doing this!
Asked whether he could run directly behind other cars or needed to hang half a lane up or down to get clean air, Montoya said: “You always need a lot of clean air. Even before this, even the old cars, you needed a lot of clean air. With these cars, I think for me personally you still notice the difference.”
Comparing this era car to the last one he drove, with the manufacturer aerokit, he said “[These] are a little harder to drive, I think. I think the difference between clear air and dirty air is a little bigger. I think the [aero] changes from what IndyCar did, from what everybody says, it’s a little harder than before, but not that bad. Put it that way.
Unlike the four drivers who tested with push-to-pass turbo boost last week to simulate the 2023 KERS equipped engine, as IndyCar investigates and experiments, Montoya reckoned that to have an extra 100hp surge available would be a good thing at Indy.
“It’s a shame, that we didn’t… Some people tried the ‘push to pass’ [in] the other test. But it would make racing more wild, I think. I know some people don’t want wild,” he said, later adding, “After running today, I would be a big fan of that push to pass, to be honest.”
Photo by: Barry Cantrell / Motorsport Images