Juan Pablo Montoya should have won the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. He slipped past Mark Martin on the first restart and was gone. With flawless work by his pit crew and a car that was clearly the class of the field, Montoya had built a five second lead when he came in for his final pit stop, having led 116 laps.
The electronic timing system calculated Montoya’s pit speed over 60 miles an hour. The pit road speed limit is 55. Montoya swore by his beautiful wife and cute kids that he was not speeding. But it’s hard to argue with a machine. The only human error here was Juan’s foot not hard enough on the brake pedal.
So instead of JPM making history as the first driver to win the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400, Jimmie Johnson put his name in the books instead as the first back-to-back NASCAR winner at Indy. Juan vented on the team radio that NASCAR was screwing him. Some fans and media may promote a conspiracy theory against the foreign driver from Columbia. But the reality is that Montoya has no “Juan” to blame but himself.
I feel bad for Montoya. His win would have been a great story. The 42 car was painted to look like the car he raced to victory in the 2000 Indy 500. And both machines were dominant.
But his protests have no merit. Hopefully the disappointment won’t ruin or turn his season in the wrong direction. Montoya is 10th in points, enjoying a breakthrough season since coming from Formula 1 to stock cars. A spot in the Cup playoffs will validate his career move, even if it doesn’t erase the pain of giving away a win at Indy.
Rich Nye, firstname.lastname@example.org