BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – A familiar face is joining the ranks of drivers today at Barber Motorsports Park for the Verizon IndyCar Series open test ahead of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama race weekend April 21-23.
Juan Pablo Montoya is participating in today’s test in preparation to compete at the INDYCAR Grand Prix and 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May. Montoya hasn’t driven an Indy car since finishing third in the 2016 season finale, the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, six months ago, so the two-time Indy 500 champion is eager to strap back in.
"It's always exciting to get into the car,” Montoya said. “I really enjoy the track at Barber and it will be a good place to get my timing back. The team obviously is a little different, so there is some work to do there.
“I fully expect us to take every available minute. I'm completely confident that we'll come out of the day feeling good about what we were able to accomplish."
Barber Motorsports Park open test entry list
Montoya will be driving the No. 22 Team Penske Chevrolet today and in the May races. They are the only races that the 41-year-old is currently scheduled to drive as the fifth Penske driver alongside reigning series champion and defending Barber race winner Simon Pagenaud, Helio Castroneves, Will Power and Josef Newgarden.
Montoya is looking forward to racing in both the INDYCAR Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500.
"It's always great to race in Indy," he said. "There's a lot of focus on the 500 and that's understandable, but the grand prix has come a long way in a short time. The course is fast but still challenging, the fan support continues to grow.”
First, though, is today’s open test, with practice sessions for the 22 participating cars that run from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 3-6 p.m. ET. Each car is permitted four sets of Firestone primary-compound tires to use for the day (as the lone series rookie, Ed Jones is permitted a fifth set). Teams will be permitted to practice live pit stops during the last 45 minutes of the first session and opening 45 minutes of the second session. Push-to-pass will be activated for all cars in the final hour of the afternoon session.
The test is not open to the public. No video stream is available but live timing and scoring can be found at RaceControl.IndyCar.com.