Juan Pablo Montoya is back at the top of the podium in the IndyCar Series.
The 38-year-old Colombian racing driver won the IndyCar race Sunday at Pocono Raceway, the highlight of a triumphant return to open-wheel racing after seven years in NASCAR.
Montoya won for the first time in the CART/IndyCar Series since 2000 and had his first major victory since he won a road-course race at Watkins Glen in NASCAR in 2010.
Helio Castroneves was second to make it a 1-2 finish Sunday for Team Penske. With double points awarded in the 500-mile races, Castroneves moved into a tie for the points lead with Team Penske teammate Will Power.
Carlos Munoz, Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon completed the top five.
Montoya, who won from the pole, took the lead for good when Tony Kanaanwas forced to pit for fuel with four laps left. Montoya took it from there and continued to stamp himself a player in the championship hunt. He moved to fourth in the standings.
“As soon as we signed him, I knew he would be an asset for us, and a headache,” Castroneves said.
Montoya, the 1999 CART champion and 2000 Indianapolis 500, winner took the checkered flag to the sight of hundreds of Colombian fans waving the flag and cheering him on.
It was just the kind of scene he pictured when he decided to head home to open wheel. Montoya wanted a competitive ride again after lackluster results driving for Chip Ganassi in NASCAR. He knew his open-wheel return would have a learning curve: Montoya last ran in CART in 2000, then left Formula One midway through the 2006 season for NASCAR.
After only two top 10s in his first seven starts, Montoya reeled off a third, second and seventh in his past three. Now, he has the win needed to erase any lingering doubts that has move back to open wheel was the right one.