Juan Pablo Montoya: One step away from Triple Crown?
It may be a surprise to some: JPM is one win away from one of the greatest racing achievements of all time. Could he do it?
Juan Pablo Montoya, age 42, is the only active racer right now that is close to the Holy Grail of racing achievements: the unofficial Triple Crown. This is accomplished by winning the Indianapolis 500, Monaco Grand Prix (or in some cases the F1 World Championship), and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. These three races are the most historic races on Earth for motorsports. To win all three is something not many can do, and is a true achievement.
He won the 2000 and 2015 Indianapolis 500. He won the 2003 Grand Prix of Monaco. He has also won the 2007, 2008, and 2013 24 Hours of Daytona. Looking at this, he has been in the running for the Triple Crown for over 14 years. Does he have what it takes to get it done before he retires from racing?
There has been many that have gotten close. The list includes, but not limited to, Phil Hill (3 time LM winner, '61 F1 World Champ), AJ Foyt (4 time Indy 500 winner, '67 LM winner), Bruce McLaren ('66 LM winner, '62 Monaco winner), Mario Andretti ('69 Indy 500 winner, '78 F1 World Champ), and Jacques Villeneuve ('95 Indy 500 winner, '97 F1 World Champ). There has been only one racer in history to accomplish what Montoya is shooting for; Graham Hill. He won the Indianapolis 500 in 1966, the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1972, the Monaco Grand Prix 5 times ('63-'65, '68, and '69), and even the Formula 1 World Championship twice. These are some iconic names in the sport of racing, so to be considered among that list would be a true honor.
He did quite well in NASCAR as well. It wasn't without problems, though. One of the most memorable moments was during the 2012 Daytona 500, the first race of the season. During a caution period on lap 160, a defective rear suspension on his car collapsed as he was the "Lucky Dog" - a term used in NASCAR describing a driver catching up to the main pack after being a lap down. The poor timing of the collapse found him skidding up the track directly into an unsuspecting jet dryer.
Luckily, no one was injured. This did lead to a running joke around NASCAR fans, constantly worried JPM should steer clear of jet dryers from now on. This incident led to a LENGTHY red flag, causing a huge delay in the iconic race.
Juan Pablo Montoya is currently racing for Team Penske in the Verizon Indy Car series and the IMSA WeatherTech Series. This allows him to work with Ricky Taylor, Dane Cameron, and Helio Castraneves on the Acura Team. Other members of the team include Simon Pagenaud, and Graham Rahal. These Acura Team Penske teams will be competing at the 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring. Now that is a terrific group of drivers to have teamed up. It looks like Penske is finally making the needed steps to get back to France.
Do you feel Juan Pablo Montoya has what it takes to finish it out before he retires? Let us know in the comments.