Verizon Team Penske’s Juan Pablo Montoya took his second victory in a row at the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg on Sunday as the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series roared to life.
The Colombian in the Silver No.2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet qualified in fourth place but started the event from third place due the fact that his team mate and pole sitter Will Power in the No.12 Verizon Team Penske car was unable to start the race due to a mild concussion that he received following the crash he had on Friday.
Speaking following the race, Montoya commented by saying:
It was good. The Chevy was good all day. It was exciting to have a new paint scheme (on his car) and come out and win with it. It’s just awesome. We started the year last year like this. I felt this morning we had a really good car and it paid off.
Simon Pagenaud in the No.22 Hewlett Packard Enterprises Team Penske Chevrolet started the race from pole position due to Power not taking part in the race and had a great start to the event leading a considerable number of laps before Montoya passed him for the lead.
Speaking following the race, the Frenchman commented by saying:
Overall it was a great day. If you compare to last year, it’s been a massive improvement on the whole 22 crew. I’m super proud to represent HPE in our first race and be here on the podium in second place, leading the race for a while. But, yeah, Montoya is an old dog. He found a little good trick on me. I made one tiny little mistake and it lost me the race.
Helio Castroneves in the No.3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet started the race from the front row alongside Pagenaud and had a strong race ending the event in fourth place just behind Ryan Hunter Reay in Andretti Autosport DHL Honda.
Castroneves’ fourth place finish gave Roger ‘The Captain’ Penske three cars in the top four and speaking following the race the he said:
It was a great day for Team Penske. With three laps to go it was very difficult because I was on black tires and everybody else was on reds. I was hanging on with my life. The Hitachi Chevy was very good but a little bit difficult in some of the corners with some understeer. Great Strategy; great work! Everybody did a heck of a job. Ready for the next race.
IndyCar veteran Oriol Servia drove in place of Will Power in the No.12 Verizon car this morning with Spaniard also starting the race for Team Penske from the back of the grid. The 41 year old went on to finish the race in 18th place and speaking afterwards he stated:
It was not quite the finish we were hoping for, but it was still good to get a chance to race the No. 12 Verizon Chevy for Team Penske. I really enjoyed working with the team and the car was definitely fast. I thought we made some really good progress after starting from the back, but then we got caught up in the accident with several other cars and it was tough to come back from that. I want to thank Team Penske and Verizon for the opportunity and I hope my friend Will (Power) feels better soon and can get back to the team.