Juan Pablo Montoya believes he can win 2014 IndyCar title
|By Mark Glendenning||Monday, July 7th 2014, 14:46 GMT|
Juan Pablo Montoya believes that he is emerging as a dark horse for this year's IndyCar championship following his win at Pocono on Sunday.
The 38-year-old's victory came off the back of several weeks of solid results and elevated him to fourth in the championship, 55 points behind his Penske team-mates and joint leaders Will Power and Helio Castroneves.
At the start of the season - following seven years in NASCAR - he had said that his expectations were to reacquaint himself with open-wheel racing, challenge for wins, and help support his team-mates' title bids.
But in the wake of his Pocono success, he says that he could be in the championship hunt if he can build upon his current momentum.
"I feel at this point we've got to step it up and work a little bit harder, because I think we're in a position now to win the championship," he said.
"We've been having really good finishes and everything, but if we want to win the championship, we've got to make sure we perform a little better on the street courses and stuff like that.
"We haven't run on short ovals so I have no idea what to expect [at Iowa this weekend]. Hopefully it's as good as this."
The Colombian admitted that as recently as a few weeks ago, the prospect of a title challenge had not been on his mind.
Montoya believes the recent run of results that has put him into contention has owed as much to his mental approach as it does his talent as a driver.
"It [the championship] wasn't [on my radar]," he said. "I was, I don't know, nearly 200 points out or something.
"I'm still a ways away, but hey, I think people know that I'm coming, and it's good. It's definitely a plus.
"I think it's something that is helping, and I've got to keep in mind, is I got to here because I've been really smart about it, and it's got to be that way.
"With [Jack] Hawksworth in Houston [whom he was fighting for third late in the Sunday race], I could have been stupid or braver or whatever you want to call it and ended up in tyres with him and prove a point - and what's the point?
"That would have given away 20 or 30 points, and then you get to the end of the year, and you go, 'oh, I shouldn't have been fighting with that dude'."
Montoya became the first driver this season to win an IndyCar race from pole position. His 223.871mph pole speed reset Pocono's track record.