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Montoya all the way at Indy.

Reigning CART champion Juan Montoya withstood the challenge from the IRL's best talent to record a dominant victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, taking the lead from Greg Ray on lap 26 and very rarely relinquishing it. Behind the Colombian, a number of drivers furiously scrapped for the remaining podium positions in what was an absorbing race from start to finish.

Rain, the chief enemy of all oval circuits, struck Indianapolis on Sunday and when the scheduled start time came around, the 2.5 mile Superspeedway was extremely damp meaning that no racing would be possible for some time. The circuit maintenance team were quickly in action once the rain had cleared and as the teams and drivers waited pensively in the pit-lane, a number of jet dryers were dispatched in order to get the track into a suitable condition.

Nobody wanted to take any risks with circuit water before such a major event and nearly three hours had passed before track officials gave the all clear.

In the garage area the tension had been escalating all morning, the delay was prolonging any nerves the 33 waiting drivers may have had. The drivers also knew that when they finally made it out onto the track, grip levels would be vastly different from those experienced in practice and qualifying. The combination of rain and jet drying would have removed most of the laid down rubber on the racing line leaving the circuit very 'green'.

All these uncertainties simply added to the tension and when Mari Hulman George, chairman of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Board, uttered the magic words, “Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines,” over a quarter of a million spectators burst into a deafening cheer, almost drowning the engines out.

The entire field circulated the track for several pace laps, ER star Anthony Edwards behind the wheel of the pace car, before pole sitter Greg Ray led the pack onto the starting straight to take the green flag. The race was away at the first time of asking and into turn one, fourth place starter Robby Gordon dived to the inside and tried to wrest the lead from his Menard team-mate. Contact was somehow avoided and Ray held the line, cutting across Gordon's bows to remain in the lead, costing Gordon some momentum. Capitalising on Gordon's misjudgement, Montoya swept by into second coming onto the back straight.

Behind the lead trio, everyone else had got away cleanly and were being led by Eliseo Salazar (3rd on the grid) from Scott Sharp, Jeff Ward, Jimmy Vasser and Eddie Cheever.

Once into the clean air, defending IRL champion Ray set about opening up a lead over his pursuers and over the next few laps he drew out a second advantage over Montoya who had a similar gap back to Gordon and Salazar. The field as a whole stayed remarkably close in the opening laps with everyone keeping on their toes as they acclimatised themselves to the track conditions.

It wasn't until lap 15 did the leaders encounter slower traffic and as Ray held back slightly, Montoya and Gordon closed in on the leader only to lose ground again as Ray began to use the slower cars to his advantage. As the traffic began to thicken, Gordon surprised Montoya and nipped by to take second only to be re-passed when he was held up behind Lyn St James. Salazar also moved ahead of Gordon to take third and by lap 20 was looking for a way past Montoya.



Related Pictures

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Juan Montoya.
Juan Montoya.
Juan Montoya.
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, and his team perform the traditional kissing of the bricks after racing to victory Sunday, May 24, 2015, winning the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Montoya went from near-last to first, winning the Indy 500 for the second time in his career. Chevrolet powered the top four cars in the race. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, drinks the traditional bottle of milk while celebrating his victory Sunday, May 24, 2015, winning the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Montoya went from near-last to first, winning the Indy 500 for the second time in his career. Chevrolet powered the top four cars in the race. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, celebrates his victory Sunday, May 24, 2015, winning the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Montoya went from near-last to first, winning the Indy 500 for the second time in his career. Chevrolet powered the top four cars in the race. (Photo by Scott R. LePage/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, crosses the finish line as he races to victory Sunday, May 24, 2015, winning the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Montoya went from near-last to first, winning the Indy 500 for the second time in his career. Will Power (left), driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, finishes second. Chevrolet powered the top four cars in the race. (Photo by Andy Frame/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Penske team mates Juan Pablo Montoya and Will Power race side-by-wide during the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday May 24 2015. (Photo by: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media)
James Hinchcliffe during practice prior to Qualifying for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race (Photo by: Leigh Spargur)
Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies third fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, and will start on the outside of the front row for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Pagenaud will be joined in the front row by by polestar Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet and Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet who qualified second fastest for the May 24 race. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies second-fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, and will start in the middle of the front row for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Power will be joined in the front row by pole sitter Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet and Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet  who qualified third for the May 24 race. (Photo by Scott R. LePage/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates after qualifying fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, winning the pole for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Dixon will be joined in the front row by Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet who qualified second fastest, and Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet  who qualified third for the May 24 race. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, qualifies fastest Sunday, May 17, 2015, winning the pole for the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Dixon will be joined in the front row by Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet who qualified second fastest, and Simon Pagenaud, driver of the #22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet  who qualified third for the May 24 race. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon after winning P1 at IMS for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis Mile Race on Sunday May 18 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon after winning P1 at IMS for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis Mile Race on Sunday May 18 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon after winning P1 at IMS for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis Mile Race on Sunday May 18 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon after winning P1 at IMS for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis Mile Race on Sunday May 18 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon leaves for his qualifying run for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis Mile Race on Sunday May 18 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)

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