HALLOWED GROUND: Juan Montoya (Penske Chevrolet Dallara) gets emotional after winning the 99th Indianapolis 500 and kisses the 'Yard of Bricks' commemorating the original track at Indianapolis. Image: AFP / Chris Graythe
• Montoya back in Victory Lane
• Power failure over closing laps
• Crash sets up final shoot-out
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana - Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya came from the back of the pack and outran his team mate over the closing laps to the win the 99th Indianapolis 500 for a second time on Sunday (May 24).
Montoya, who won his Indy 500 debut in 2000, survived an early collision that forced him into the pits and dropped him to 30th before mounting a stirring charge and storming to a car-length win.
DOWN TO THE WIRE
"When I came through the field, I knew I had a really great car. But it was hard," said Montoya. "Oh, my God! That was awesome. This is what racing and IndyCar are all about.
"Awesome racing all the way to the wire."
The former F1 driver returned to IndyCar in 2014 after stints in Nascar and F1 to take the lead with four laps to go and fought off a challenge from Australian Will Power. American Charlie Kimball was third.
The IndyCar Series win was his fourth, two coming from the sprawling four-kilometre speedway. The victory was also 16th for team owner Roger Penske, giving him the rare Daytona 500-Indy 500 double.
After a crash-filled build-up to the race, a mix of excitement and apprehension hung over the famed Brickyard as the 33-car field obeyed the command to start their engines.
The trepidation proved well-founded with cars driven by Sage Karam and Takuma Sato (another F1 driver) crashing in the first corner of the ffirst lap and bringing out the yellow flags.
Problems continued on the restart when Simona de Silvestro, one of two women in the field, ran into the back of Montoya sending both drivers into the pits for repairs.
SWEET VICTORY: Juan Pablo Montoya of Team Penske Chevrolet Dallara, celebrates after winning the 99th Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on May 23 2015. Image: AFP /Jamie Squire
After 2014's race went 149 laps without a caution flag, the first 11 laps of the 99th were run under yellow before the field finally settled into a rhythm with Ganassi team mates pole-starter Scott Dixon and 2013 winner Tony Kanaan setting the pace.
With 160km to go, the race had boiled down to a battle between IndyCar's two powerhouse outfits with Penske and Ganassi cars occupying the top six places.
'MAYBE I WAS A BIT NICE TOO HIM'
A spectacular crash involving Stefano Coletti, Jack Hawksworth and Sebastian Saavedra brought out the final yellow of the day. That set up a wild sprint for the chequered flag, Montoya blasting past Dixon and Power and staying in front the final four laps as the crowd of close to 250 000 stood and roared.
"I was trying to keep the lead because I knew, with the heat, the tyres would degrade and eventually they wouldn't be able to go round," said Power, reigning IndyCar series champion. "Montoya got that last run and maybe I was a bit nice to him into Turn 1 and lifted.
"That was serious racing there, it was a lot of fun. Full credit to the team, finishing 1-2. Congrats to Juan, he was very strong all day and had to come through the field."
Montoya took to Twitter, posting a picture celebrating the win with his family: