“There wasn’t a lot of discussion about it because it all came together pretty quick,” Team Penske Tim Cindric said. “I think Juan and I actually ran into each other on the grid in Michigan. It was as simple as, “Hey, I heard ‑ obviously you’re not with 42 (team), what are you up to?
“He said ‘Not sure.’
“And I said, ‘We ought to put you in that IndyCar sometime.’
“And he said, ‘Let’s talk about it.’
“From then on, it was kind of casual conversation; it turned into the real deal. That’s really how we started and how we ended up here today.”
Montoya competed in CART from 1999-2000 and joined Nigel Mansell as the only driver to win the CART title in their rookie season. He won 11 CART races during those two years – not to mention the Indy 500 – and set rookie records for wins (seven) and laps led (954) in 1999. He had an incredible 14 poles and 14 podiums in his 41 starts including CART and the 2000 Indy 500.
During his time with Williams and McLaren in Formula One he won seven races including the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix in 2003. He made the jump to NASCAR in 2007 and scored two Cup wins – including Sonoma in 2007 and Watkins Glen in 2010. He also won the 2007 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Mexico City.
He is also a three-time winner of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, including his first attempt in 2007.
Montoya is hoping to recapture the glory with Penske Racing, which has an incredible record of 377 major race wins, 433 pole positions, and 24 National Championships. The team has also earned 15 Indianapolis 500 victories in its storied history.
“Juan has been a winner in everything he’s been in,” Cindric said. “We didn’t have to drag him along and convince him that Indy was different than NASCAR. This was about him saying: ‘I want to drive for you guys and I want to figure out how to win with you guys.'”
When Andretti was attempting to sign Montoya his team tried to put a sponsorship package together first. As for Penske, they decided to sign the driver then go after the sponsor.
“The approach that we took, because obviously it was a pretty short time frame ‑ once it got to the point where it was something that really looked like we could put it together, it really came down to Roger’s commitment to the sport and Roger’s commitment to winning,” Cindric explained. “The approach that we have taken, really, is let’s put the competitive piece in play first, and then hopefully we can sort the rest of it out. And I guess that’s one of the advantages we all have working for Roger is his commitment to winning comes before everything else.
“We don’t have even one sponsor for one race as we sit here today, but, you know, I’m confident that will change as things go along.”