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Why Roger Penske wants Juan Pablo Montoya on his IndyCar team

September 17, 2013|By Jim Peltz
  • Roger Penske, above, has hired Juan Pablo Montoya to drive for his IndyCar team next year.
Roger Penske, above, has hired Juan Pablo Montoya to drive for his IndyCar… (Robert Laberge / Getty Images )

If you're a race-car driver in search of a job, it helps to know a billionaire.

Racing mogul Roger Penske hired Juan Pablo Montoya to join his IndyCar team next year even though Penske doesn't yet have a single sponsor to help finance Montoya's car for even one race.

No matter. Penske is willing to take a chance on Montoya, who won the Indianapolis 500 in 2000 with owner Chip Ganassi but hasn't raced Indy-style cars since then.

"The bottom line for us is that Juan has been a winner," Penske President Tim Cindric told reporters Monday.

Montoya raced in the Formula One series from 2001 to 2006, where he won seven times, before migrating to stock-car racing in 2007 with Ganassi's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team, where he's had considerably less success.

In fact, Ganassi declined to re-sign Montoya for next year, leaving the Colombian free to accept the offer from Penske, 76, whose team has a record 15 Indianapolis 500 victories.

Montoya turns 38 on Friday, and Cindric was asked whether Montoya's age -- combined with being out of an IndyCar race car for 13 years -- was a liability heading into next year.

Cindric discounted the suggestion, noting that Penske driver Helio Castroneves, at 38, currently leads the IndyCar point standings and four-time champion Dario Franchitti of Ganassi's team is 40. (Penske's other IndyCar driver is Australian Will Power, who's 32.)

"I look at Helio, I look at Dario, I look at the fact that Juan as been a winner in everything he's been in," Cindric said. "What convinced us was really, you know, [Montoya's] overall dedication to this program.

"Helio is sitting there leading the points and he's not a young pup either," Cindric said. "Time will tell how all that plays out."


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