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Montoya encouraged by Indy test showing despite scary moments

Returning two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya says he was encouraged by his pace in IndyCar's Indianapolis Motor Speedway test, despite moments that "scared the hell out of me".

Juan Pablo Montoya, Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet

Barry Cantrell / Motorsport Images

Returning two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya says he was encouraged by his pace in IndyCar's Indianapolis Motor Speedway test, despite moments that "scared the hell out of me".

The 2000 and 2015 winner is attempting to qualify for his first Indy 500 since 2017 in a third Arrow McLaren SP entry, having concentrated on sportscar racing in recent years in a stint that yielded the IMSA SportsCar Championship title in 2019.

Montoya showed well in testing on Friday, setting the third-quickest time behind former Penske team-mate Josef Newgarden and defending winner Takuma Sato.

Running a tribute livery to mark the 50th anniversary of Peter Revson's pole position for the 1971 Indy 500 in a McLaren M16, the Colombian appeared to be capable of running a variety of lines and passing cars without the cooperation of the driver in front.

But when asked about his performance by Autosport, Montoya said that not everything had been so smooth from inside the cockpit and revealed there had been several occasions where he had almost been caught out in traffic.

“I felt OK, I didn't feel as good as you said - it's great that it looks like that!" he said.

“I did pass few cars and everything. I could move, I could change, I felt pretty decent at parts.

“Every run you do, you change something. You don't keep the same car, keep doing things. You’re always trying to improve the feeling, improve the car to maybe be more consistent in clean air, more consistent in the draft, things like that.

"As you go through those things, there's some runs that you go out there and you're just in the way, and you hate it.

Juan Pablo Montoya, Indy 500 testing 2021

Juan Pablo Montoya, Indy 500 testing 2021

Photo by: James Black, IndyCar

“I said like three times today, ‘Hell, I'm not doing this!’ Actually the word wasn't 'hell' but I'm using the polite word. I said, ‘I'm not doing this,’ and I bailed.

"One of them actually bailed and really scared the hell out of me in [Turns] 3 and 4. I lifted and I didn't even do Turn 1. I went in the deceleration lane. I'm not doing this!"

Asked to compare the aeroscreen-equipped IR-18 chassis with the manufacturer aerokit IndyCar he last raced, Montoya said that the current iteration is "a little harder to drive" and exaggerated the difference between clear air and dirty air.

"I think the [aero] changes from what IndyCar did, from what everybody says, it's a little harder than before, but not that bad," he said.

However, unlike the four drivers who recently tested with push-to-pass turbo boost to simulate the 2023 KERS equipped engine, Montoya reckoned that to have an extra 100hp surge available would be a good thing at Indy.

“It's a shame, that we didn't [pursue its use for the race]," he said.

"Some people tried the 'push to pass' [in] the other test. But it would make racing more wild, I think.

"I know some people don't want wild - after running today, I would be a big fan of that push to pass, to be honest.”

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