Montoya on the pace on testing return ahead of May IndyCar outings

Juan Pablo Montoya was on the pace as he returned to an IndyCar cockpit in testing at Barber on Tuesday, getting within a tenth of a second of the fastest time

Montoya on the pace on testing return ahead of May IndyCar outings

The ex-Formula 1 driver lost his full-time drive with Penske for this year, initially signing a one-race deal with the team for the Indianapolis 500.

That arrangement was subsequently extended to include the Indianapolis road course race before the 500, so Montoya joined 21 other drivers in action yesterday.

He finished the day with the fourth-fastest time, just 0.0888s slower than team-mate Will Power at the top of the order.

"I feel like I [last] drove the car yesterday," Montoya said at the end of the test, after six months out of action since the 2016 finale.

"It's kind of fun. I've been out of the car since September, but I feel fine.

"I have a new crew, new guys, new engineer. It's working really well.

"There's a lot of focus on the Indy 500 and that's understandable, but the [road course] grand prix has come a long way in a short time.

"More people need to discover it because all of the races have been very competitive with passing and lead changes.

"It's always great to race at Indy, and I'll be excited to get in the car again for the Month of May."

Power led the way with a 1m07.7518s, set in the closing moments of the day during a final hour that became action packed due to the use of push-to-pass being permitted.

Ganassi's Max Chilton was 0.0073s back in second place, breaking up what would otherwise have been a Penske-Chevrolet top three lockout.

"It just shows how tight it is between Honda and Chevy now," said Power in reference to Chilton's Honda-powered effort.

"We went through a bunch of stuff [during the test] and we got some good answers here."

Chilton joked that Power had "spoiled the fun" with his last-gasp lap, adding that Ganassi had turned things around after a difficult start to the day.

"We actually were struggling a lot with the car all day, that's why we took a long, long lunch break to sort of change the car," he added.

"Then we definitely made steps forward, did a few fine-tunes.

"It's amazing, you make a few changes and you jump yourself up the board."

Montoya's Penske replacement Josef Newgarden was third, just ahead of the Colombian, while Andretti Autosport filled three of the next four spots with Marco Andretti (fifth), morning pacesetter Takuma Sato (sixth) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (eighth).

Chilton's Ganassi team-mate Scott Dixon was among those cars in seventh, with Graham Rahal and reigning champion Simon Pagenaud completing the top 10.

COMBINED TEST TIMES:

Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Will Power Penske Dallara-Chevy 1m07.7518s 2. Max Chilton Ganassi Dallara-Honda 1m07.7591s +0.0073s 3. Josef Newgarden Penske Dallara-Chevy 1m07.8402s +0.0084s 4. Juan Pablo Montoya Penske Dallara-Chevy 1m07.8406s +0.0088s 5. Marco Andretti Andretti Dallara-Honda 1m07.9664s +0.2146s 6. Takuma Sato Andretti Dallara-Honda 1m07.9835s +0.2317s 7. Scott Dixon Ganassi Dallara-Honda 1m08.0255s +0.2737s 8. Ryan Hunter-Reat Andretti Dallara-Honda 1m08.0935s +0.3417s 9. Graham Rahal Rahal Dallara-Honda 1m08.1172s +0.3654s 10. Simon Pagenaud Penske Dallara-Chevy 1m08.1876s +0.4358s 11. Tony Kanaan Ganassi Dallara-Honda 1m08.2163s +0.4645s 12. Helio Castroneves Penske Dallara-Chevy 1m08.2235s +0.4717s 13. Sebastien Bourdais Coyne Dallara-Honda 1m08.2308s +0.4790s 14. Ed Jones Coyne Dallara-Honda 1m08.2488s +0.4970s 15. Alexander Rossi Andretti Dallara-Honda 1m08.3353s +0.5835s 16. Mikhail Aleshin Schmidt Dallara-Honda 1m08.4181s +0.6663s 17. Spencer Pigot Carpenter Dallara-Chevy 1m08.4217s +0.6699s 18. James Hinchcliffe Schmidt Dallara-Honda 1m08.4951s +0.7433s 19. Conor Daly Foyt Dallara-Chevy 1m08.6138s +0.8620s 20. JR Hildebrand Carpenter Dallara-Chevy 1m08.6952s +0.9434s 21. Carlos Munoz Foyt Dallara-Chevy 1m08.7088s +0.9570s 22. Charlie Kimball Ganassi Dallara-Honda 1m08.8144s +1.0626s 
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