Verizon IndyCar Series championship leader Juan Pablo Montoya has not been shy about calling out the league’s less experienced entrants when their driving deserves it, and on Sunday after a wreck-filled race at Pocono, the Colombian veteran once again offered some critical commentary.
“To be honest with you, a lot of these guys here are not used to oval racing,” Montoya told members of the media, including IndyCar Examiner, during his post-race press conference when asked about the double-digit cautions that set a new course record at Pocono. “They’re not used to the give-and-take. They don’t understand the give-and-take.
“Yesterday even in practice, [Tristan] Vautier nearly crashed into me,” he explained. “I got a run on him into Turn 3. I was next to him, half a car inside of him, [and] he just turned down like I wasn’t there.
“I went and confronted him. He said, ‘What am I supposed to do? If I go straight, I’ll go off, so I turned.’ I said, ‘But if I’m there…’
‘But I felt I got really loose.’
‘Yeah, because you were bouncing into me. Next time when somebody gets a run and gets inside of you, get off the gas and get behind.’
“The young kids, they don’t understand it,” Montoya continued. “They race lap five like it’s the last two laps of the race and they’re going for a win when they’re running 18th. It’s amazing. That causes a lot of the crashes.”
Vautier later took Montoya’s closest competition for the IndyCar title, Graham Rahal, out of Sunday’s race by trying to squeeze underneath Rahal as he ran side-by-side with Justin Wilson. Vautier again got loose and collected Rahal, who exchanged harsh words with him after both men were helped from their vehicles; the crash helped Montoya open up his lead on Rahal to more than 30 points with one race to go.
Asked for his opinion on the Vautier-Rahal crash, Montoya told reporters, “It’s racing. It’s ironic. They talked to him and everything,” possibly referencing a reported pre-race meeting between league officials and teams in which drivers were told to be mindful of not taking championship contenders out of the race.
“To be honest with you, it’s what it is,” he continued. “Graham hadn’t really had any really big issues, maybe not great races, but he never got into trouble with anything. We had our suspension fail in Iowa and lost a lot of points. We got screwed by [Sage] Karam in Mid-Ohio. It’s what it is.”
Montoya’s comments now take on an additional resonance given the news that Justin Wilson died from injuries suffered when he was hit by debris from Karam’s car on Sunday. Though Wilson’s death was only an unfortunate side effect of Karam’s crash at Pocono, the 20-year-old Ganassi driver is one of those who have been criticized for their racecraft in 2015.
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