Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Montoya the Indycar savior?

The news from the Indycar series is that Penske Racing has signed Juan Pablo Montoya for the 2014 Indycar season. Our reaction to this...happening is not one of jubilation.

Indycar can very well do without Montoya. Sure he was past champion, F1 star, Rolex Daytona 24h winner, and is well known in NASCAR as well. But at this stage in his racing career, Montoya has accomplished all he can and really has nothing to prove to anyone.

Indycar would do well to have Roger Penske put one of their rising stars into his 3rd car. When A.J Allmendinger was first given the ride at the beginning of the season, we wondered to ourselves what the team was hoping to accomplish by that move. A.J had a nice and solid run in Nascar, but did anyone seriously in the know about racing expect him to really contribute to the team? He had been away for too long from this type of racing. The reflexes had to be trained again and that could take some time.

We could say Montoya is a bit higher  up the ladder compared to A.J when it comes to his road racing skills and accomplishments. But he is also older (will be 38 in 2014), more accomplished and frankly, he really does not have to be here fending off tireless 20 year olds for a living. Generally, no motivation, no results.

The best marketing present Indycar can give itself would have been to have Roger Penske give the 3rd ride to the best rising star, who currently is Simon Pagenaud. But an even better deal would be to give it to a promising American driver not currently in a top ride: per us that discussion would settle towards Joseph Newgarden or our personal favorite, Graham Rahal. If either of those were offered the 3rd Penske ride with all the mechanical upgrades on Will Power and Helio Castroneves' cars, that would definitely boost the series appeal among younger and more casual fans.

The Indycar brain trust should start taking a slight hands on approach to the driver lineups to get the maximum marketing impact. On the other side of the pond this is an exercise that Bernie Ecclestone has become a master at. For example Indycar, should have pulled a few strings to retain Rubens Barrichello in the series.

We're still Charlie Kimball at Ganassi getting the same hardware as Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti. He has shown enough maturity to merit the investment.... Another missed opportunity.