To the chagrin of many IndyCar aficionados, the unpopular, immodest and crotchety Colombian repeated at St. Pete after doing so in last year’s Indy 500. So what’s wrong with this prickly Penske provocateur who spends a few weekends every year as a pilot?
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Juan Pablo Montoya’s a man who’s becoming legendary as of late, whether you like it or not. Or to cite his standard throwaway quote, “you know?” He missed taking the 2015 championship on style points to Dixon, with the consolation of winning the world’s greatest race, again. From the Brickyard to the beach, fans of artistry on wheels are aware of JPM, if not exactly celebrating him.
His first Indy 500 win way back in 2000 was truly tough to watch for non-Juan fans, as he dominated the entire race, leaving little room to realistically root against him. A crass cross-over from CART at the time with Chip “hedging his bets” Ganassi, Montoya wasn’t exactly a fan favorite at the track that year, to put it mildly. When you get right down to it though, isn’t that what IndyCar fans enjoy most when it comes to JPM – rooting against him?
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The recent repeat at St Pete left a terribly bad taste in our mouths and at first we couldn’t quite figure out why. The racing was about average for a street course, there were some decent battles throughout the field – though you would never have known it thanks to Alan “going to break” Bestwicke and the “Always Bringing Commercials” network – and these helped somewhat to alleviate the embarrassing moments. Thank you Carlos “Twitter apology” Munoz, which incidentally leads one to ask, “Can Carlos be condoned?” But that’s an entirely different article.
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Something was definitely wrong in the wake of the season opener, though. Why was St. Pete so anti-climactic, leaving one feeling as though he’d just seen a new, awful Hollywood ending? Then it suddenly dawned on us. What’s wrong is that Juan – once again – was back in victory lane.
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From his “too stupid” comments after Fontana last year to his hysterical, Dora the Explorer like laughter after St. Pete (“He he he he he!”), Juan’s not only highly quotable, but also easily lambastable. Sweeter still, he’s even easier to root against. JPM runs for the Cap’n’s crew, and to many fans Team Penske represents the New England Patriots of IndyCar.
Part of the animosity toward Montoya also no doubt stems from his negative NASCAR past, a period of no real success, some embarrassment and lots of jokes about his accent. But that’s ancient history, you know? Making matters worse, Juan’s a major general in IndyCar’s f-ing F1 invasion, as well. Then there’s also his tantrum prone teammates, particularly no one’s favorite “Mad” Will Power.
What’s overwhelmingly wrong with Juan is that he’s unlikable, he’s talented and he knows it. Simply put, Juan plays the role of series villain – IndyCar’s version of a Busch brother – and it seems to be working for him. He’s a true heavy, in every sense of the word. Like any engaging drama, the series needs villains. They’re good for ratings, interest, sponsors and all involved. However, it doesn’t need villains who win every single Sunday. We’ve already seen that movie.