INDIANAPOLIS - Juan Pablo Montoya became a two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Sunday the "Juan way," outslugging Will Power and Scott Dixon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Montoya was running third when he barged past second-place Dixon and the leader Power -- Montoya's Team Penske teammate -- with a pair of brave outside passes beginning on Turn 3 of Lap 197. Montoya kept his foot planted on the throttle through Turn 4 and completed his pass of Power along the frontstretch.
"Oh my God, that was awesome," said Montoya, driver of the No. 2 Penske Chevrolet. "This is too much! This is what racing in IndyCar is all about -- awesome racing all the way down to the wire. I had the feeling I had a really good car, but that fight at the end was really, really hard."
Montoya crossed the Speedway's famed yard of bricks 0.1046 seconds ahead of Power, the reigning IndyCar Series champion who was seeking his first Indy 500 win. Montoya gave team owner Roger Penske a record 16th Indy 500 victory and first since Helio Castroneves scored his third win in 2009.
"I was trying to keep the lead because I knew with the heat, the tires were degrading," said Power, driver of the No. 1 Penske Chevrolet. "Montoya got a last run and maybe I was a little nice to him into Turn 1 and lifted. After that, I got behind and had a lot of push [front wheels wouldn't turn]. I got really close to him after Turn 2 but washed out and had to lift. That was the race."
Montoya, the 39-year-old native of Colombia, led only nine laps and Dixon led 84. Montoya won the 2000 Indy 500 as a brash rookie in dominant fashion by leading 167 of 200 laps while driving for car owner Chip Ganassi.
Montoya now has won two of his three Indy 500 starts since 2000, a gap created by his subsequent forays into Formula One and NASCAR's Sprint Cup. Roger Penske called the driver in late 2013, when Montoya found himself without a job after seven frustrating seasons in NASCAR in which he had become a struggling also-ran. He returned to domestic open-wheel racing in 2014. The 15-year span between Montoya's first Indy win and Sunday's is the longest in race history.
While the Penske teammates battled for first place, Charlie Kimball passed Ganassi Racing teammate Dixon, the pole-sitter, on Lap 198 en route to a third-place finish. Dixon, the 2008 Indy 500 champion, was fourth.
Graham Rahal, son of 1986 Indy 500 champion Bobby Rahal, drove his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda to fifth place.
Montoya started 15th but fell back to 30th after contact from Simona de Silvestro of Andretti Autosport in Turn 3 on Lap 7 while under caution. His car's aero-sensitive rear wheel guard bodywork was damaged. That repair and another stop on Lap 10 for fuel only dropped him to 30th in the field of 33 cars.
Montoya methodically worked into the lead on Lap 40, as the leaders pitted for fuel and tires under a green flag. Montoya pitted on Lap 41 and lost precious seconds when he slid through his pit box and had to be pulled back by his crew. That miscue dropped him to 18th.
"I couldn't believe it. Montoya coming from all the way in the back," Penske said. "I'll tell you, you give that guy the bit and put it in his mouth, as you know, he doesn't give up."