DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Let’s take yet another moment to acknowledge the many accomplishments of Juan Pablo Montoya’s career – this time with particular emphasis on what he’s accomplishing now, at age 46, in a Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) car.
His IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship class victory Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course was just another in the course of 30 years and nearly 500 races across multiple disciplines, from IndyCar to Formula One to NASCAR and back to IndyCar – with a sprinkling of sports cars along the way that included winning the 2019 Daytona Prototype international (DPi) title.
But this one in particular was vintage JPM.
He missed qualifying Saturday because he was competing in the IndyCar Series road-course race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but he joined Henrik Hedman in the No. 81 DragonSpeed USA ORECA LMP2 07 on Sunday for the Lexus Grand Prix at Mid-Ohio.
After a drive-through penalty for spinning Jonathan Bomarito with 25 minutes left in the race, Montoya chased him down again, nudged him again, and drove off to visit the checkered flag.
Then, as only Montoya can, he critiqued it.
“He made a mistake in traffic,” Montoya said. “He hesitated and I went for it. I’ve raced here, I’ve won here many times and I know traffic is the key. And he didn’t use it well.”
There’s a wink and a nudge to what Montoya is accomplishing at this stage in his career. He’s racing for the pure joy of it, and still damned good at it. He’s racing to help his son Sebastian launch a career that already looks familiar. He’s still fast, and he’s relishing the moment.
And that’s refreshing. Has been for 30 years.