LONG POND, Penn. (July 5, 2014) -- Juan Pablo Montoya led Team Penske to a front-row sweep with a record-breaking run to the Verizon P1 Pole Award during the Saturday afternoon qualifying session for the Pocono INDYCAR 500 at Pocono Raceway.
Montoya posted the fastest two-lap average of the qualifying session -- 223.871 mph -- breaking the track record with the No. 2 PPG Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet. He’ll start inside the front row in Sunday’s race. It is the first time a driver has won a NASCAR Cup Series pole award (2012) and a Verizon IndyCar Series pole award at Pocono Raceway and puts Montoya on a select list of drivers to ever accomplish this feat at any track.
“I’m getting there,” said Montoya, who entered the weekend ranked fifth in the Verizon IndyCar Series in his return season to open-wheel racing. “To be honest, I’m happy to be here in the Verizon IndyCar Series. This week we have the PPG car and everybody at Chevy and Team Penske have worked really hard for me. It’s really exciting. Am I back? Well, I’m getting there. I feel like I’m getting there every week. We keep working harder and keep finding speed and more results. So it’s exciting. I think we’re going in the right direction.”
Team Penske's Will Power held the pole for much of the qualifying session but had to settle for P2 when Montoya topped Power's average with the final run of the session. Power’s two-lap average in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet was 223.725 mph.
“It was a good lap,” said Power, the points leader in the series standings. “I probably lifted a little too much into Turn 1. I knew Montoya was going to be tough to beat. We didn’t have quite as much downforce on the No. 12 Verizon Chevy. I wasn’t able to run flat out and he did. That was the difference.”
Helio Castroneves, ranked second behind Power in the championship standings, will start seventh after his two-lap average of 222.517 mph in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet.
“It was pretty windy out there and I had to fight that a little,” said Castroneves. “A good qualifying lap for the No. 3 Hitachi Chevy. Really proud of everyone at Team Penske on the effort today. 500 miles is a long race so we have plenty of time to make our way to the front.”
Montoya put together perhaps his most complete Verizon IndyCar Series weekend of the year last week at the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston. His second-place finish in the first race June 28 was his best of the season. He was in line for a second top-five finish in the second race June 29 before a flat tire resulted in a seventh-place finish. This is the first Verizon IndyCar Series pole position for Montoya since Gateway International Raceway in 2000. It’s the 15th of his distinguished career.
“I can feel it start to click, and the more it starts to click the more confident you get in the car and the more you can push it," added Montoya.
NBC Sports Network will broadcast Sunday’s Pocono INDYCAR 500 beginning at 12 p.m. ET.