Juan Pablo Montoya was a standout in the late-afternoon qualifying session as driver after driver took turns at shattering Marco Andretti’s year-old Pocono Raceway speed records.
The final participant in single-car qualifications for the Pocono INDYCAR 500 fueled by Sunoco broke the one- and two-lap track records to earn his first Verizon P1 Award of the season and 15th of his Indy car career.
Montoya recorded a first lap of 223.920 mph and a two-lap average of 223.871 mph on the 2.5-mile tri-oval in the No. 2 PPG Team Penske. The previous two-lap average record was 221.273 mph, which came in 2013 at Indy car racing’s return to Pocono Raceway after a 24-year absence. Denny Hamlin holds the NASCAR Cup Series record of 181.415 mph, set on June 6.
Montoya is the eighth different Verizon P1 Award winner this season.
Montoya’s last Indy car pole came at Surfers Paradise in October 2000. He earned the pole for the August 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono.
“It’s the luck of the draw, but the big thing was we had good balance,” said Montoya, who returned to Indy car racing this season after 14 years competing in Formula One and stock car racing.
“Am I back? Well, I’m getting there. I feel like I’m getting there every week. We keep working harder and keep finding speed and more results. So it’s exciting. I think we’re going in the right direction.
“(The track is) so different (from NASCAR). We run wide open all the way around here. I think the average speed is 30 or 40 miles per hour faster than we do in a Cup car. It’s fast.”
Takuma Sato (222.798 mph), Andretti (222.715) and James Hinchcliffe (222.544) will occupy Row 2.