Montoya claims first pole in IndyCar Series at Pocono

 

The Sports Network

Long Pond, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Juan Pablo Montoya will start on the pole in an IndyCar Series race for the first time after winning Saturday's qualifying for the Pocono IndyCar 500 at Pocono Raceway.

Montoya, who was the last driver to make his qualifying run in the 22-car field, posted a two-lap average speed of 223.871 mph around this 2.5-mile triangle-shaped track. He became the eighth different pole winner in 11 IndyCar races this season.

After spending the past 13 years in Formula One and NASCAR, Montoya joined IndyCar full-time this season to drive the No. 2 car for Team Penske. The 38- year-old Colombian competed in F1 from 2001-06 and then the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series from 2007-13.

Montoya scored 14 poles when he competed in CART from 1999-2000. His last Indy car pole came at Surfers Paradise in Australia in 2000, the same year he won the Indianapolis 500.

"Am I back? Well, I'm getting there," Montoya said. "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."

Montoya also won the pole for the Sprint Cup race at Pocono in August 2012, doing so with a lap at 176.043 mph.

"We run wide open all the way around here," he said. "I think the average speed is 30 or 40 miles per hour faster than we do in a Cup car. It's fast."

Montoya's teammate, Will Power, the current points leader, held the provisional pole with his two-lap average speed of 223.725 mph until Montoya topped it. It will be the fourth time this season that Power starts on the front row.

"It's always good to start at the front," Power said. "You've got less of a chance of getting caught up in something at the start of the race and probably on restarts as well."

Rookie Carlos Munoz qualified third, followed by Takuma Sato, Marco Andretti, who hails from nearby Nazareth, Pennsylvania, and James Hinchcliffe.

Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Ryan Briscoe completed the top-10.

Scott Dixon, the defending series champion and last year's race winner at Pocono, will start 15th.

Sunday's 500-mile event here is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. ET.

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