It took Toyota over four years and 78 races to score their first Champ Car win although judging by Juan Montoya's performance in the rain-delayed Miller Lite 225 that statistic is hard to believe.
The Target/Chip Ganassi driver led the race from pole position and led an astonishing 179 of the 225 laps around the one mile oval. The Colombian had an answer to almost everything his rivals threw at him, only loosing the lead during the pit-stops.
“I'm really happy,” said the Colombian. “We've been very unlucky in the last few races. I think it was very good to win for Toyota and Target. I'm really glad to win for Toyota because they've worked so hard.”
Montoya's win makes him the sixth different winner in as many Champ Car races this year and vaults him right into the thick of the title picture with 14 races remaining in the series. The victory also marked Lola's 92nd triumph in the CART championship and their first as chassis suppliers to the Chip Ganassi team.
Despite Montoya's dominance the race was anything but dull and a whopping 19 of the 23 starters were still running at the end, an incredible amount considering the tight confines of the Milwaukee circuit.
Montoya was in control from the very start, sprinting ahead of fellow front row starter Dario Franchitti at the green flag and quickly building up a lead in the opening 20 laps. Franchitti had his hands full with the resurgent Patrick Carpentier who is now completely recovered after injuring his wrist in a domestic accident. Behind these two Gil De Ferran, Paul Tracy and Milwaukee expert Michael Andretti were doing battle for fourth place, Andretti having risen from tenth place at the start.
With all 23 cars still circulating, it was not long before the leaders began to encounter backmarkers and while Montoya was able to slip through without problem, Franchitti got bottled up behind Shinji Nakano which allowed Carpentier to nip through into second. A little further back Andretti muscled his way past Tracy in turn three only to watch Nakano spin harmlessly infront of him coming onto the front stretch. Andretti managed to avoid the gyrating machine and the race came under its first caution flag just before the 30 lap mark.
As Montoya watched his three second lead evaporate, nine drivers at the tail end of the lead lap chose to make a re-fuelling stop, knowing that just two more stops would see them through until the end. Roberto Moreno, Jimmy Vasser, Helio Castroneves, Kenny Brack, Adrian Fernandez, Cristiano Da Matta, Mark Blundell, Alex Tagliani and Michel Jourdain Jr all dived into the pits but were able to stay on the lead lap.
The field circulated behind the pace car for several laps and when they were unleashed Montoya found himself defending his position from a very determined Carpentier who in turn had Franchitti and De Ferran crawling all over his gearbox. Andretti and Tracy led the chasing pack, consisting of Christian Fittipaldi, Max Papis, Mauricio Gugelmin, Tony Kanaan, Oriol Servia and Tarso Marques. The best placed of those who had pitted was Moreno who was 13th.