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Three Takeaways from the Lexus Grand Prix at Mid-Ohio

Vintage Montoya, Wayne Taylor Racing Tenacity and an Andretti Accomplishment

By Jeff Olson

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Let’s take yet another moment to acknowledge the accomplishments of Juan Pablo Montoya’s career – this time with particular emphasis on what he’s accomplishing now, at age 46, in a Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) car.

His IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship class victory Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course was just another in the course of 30 years and nearly 500 races across multiple disciplines, from IndyCar to Formula One to NASCAR and back to IndyCar – with a sprinkling of sports cars along the way that included winning the 2019 Daytona Prototype international (DPi) title.

But this one in particular was vintage JPM.

He missed qualifying Saturday because he was competing in the IndyCar Series road-course race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but he joined Henrik Hedman in the No. 81 DragonSpeed USA ORECA LMP2 07 on Sunday for the Lexus Grand Prix at Mid-Ohio.

After a drive-through penalty for spinning Jonathan Bomarito with 25 minutes left in the race, Montoya chased him down again, nudged him again, and drove off to visit the checkered flag.

Then, as only Montoya can, he critiqued it.

“He made a mistake in traffic,” Montoya said. “He hesitated and I went for it. I’ve raced here, I’ve won here many times and I know traffic is the key. And he didn’t use it well.”

There’s a wink and a nudge to what Montoya is accomplishing at this stage in his career. He’s racing for the pure joy of it, and still damned good at it. He’s racing to help his son Sebastian launch a career that already looks familiar. He’s still fast, and he’s relishing the moment.

And that’s refreshing. Has been for 30 years.

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The measure of a good team is best made when things aren’t so good.

That certainly was the case Sunday with Wayne Taylor Racing. The balance of their No. 10 Acura ARX-05 DPi was off early in the race, but Filipe Albuquerque held it together, provided proper feedback to right the ship, and Ricky Taylor finished off the team’s second consecutive win this season and second straight at Mid-Ohio.

Afterward, Taylor was astonished that his teammate was able to keep it moving forward.

“I don’t know how he drove the car because I got an improvement from that and I was still kind of struggling,” Taylor said. “… They just nailed it. I think the great teams just find a way to win. We weren’t the fastest in qualifying but it just goes to show how strong our team is that we find a way no matter what.”

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Missing you

The only downside to Jarett Andretti finishing on the podium in Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) was the absence of family.

Andretti’s sister, Olivia, graduated from George Washington University’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences during the weekend, so a portion of Jarett’s usual cheering squad – Olivia, sister Amelia and mom Nancy Andretti – wasn’t on site for his third-place finish with Gabby Chaves in the No. 36 Andretti Autosport Ligier JS P320.

“Congrats to (Olivia),” Jarett said after winning the LMP3 pole position Saturday. “It really was for her.”

Nancy, Olivia, Amelia and Jarett Andretti are involved in CheckIt4Andretti, a charitable foundation started by Jarett’s father, John Andretti, who died of colon cancer in 2020.