SPEEDWAY, Ind. - Grand-Am sports cars brought a new look to Indianapolis Friday with their first competitive foray across the legendary yard of bricks. But the post-race story was a familiar one, with a former Indianapolis 500 winner taking fire for his aggressive driving.
Juan Pablo Montoya, co-pilot of the fourth-place finishing No. 02 Ganassi BMW Riley, emerged from his car in the shadows of the Indianapolis grandstands just minutes after a rival team owner lambasted his driving style over the track's public address system.
"It didn't take Nostradamus to know Montoya was going to take somebody out, and he did," said Peter Baron, owner of the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport entry. "The series has to make this right."
Just minutes from the end of the three-hour inaugural Brickyard Grand Prix, the Daytona Prototypes of Montoya's No. 02 and Baron's No. 8 piloted by Ryan Dalziel came together. The result saw Dalziel spin off-track, where the No. 8 lodged in the gravel trap. Dalziel, stuck, required a tow before he could resume. He finished a lap off the pace and 17th overall.
Montoya didn't agree with Baron's assessment.
"When you think about it, if I'm not racing for points and you're saving fuel and I want to win the race, what am I going to do?" said Montoya, the 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner. "Am I going to sit beside you and wait? Just lift because you're slower than me? Screw him."
Grand-Am series officials reviewed the incident and levied no punishment on Montoya.
Montoya spoke about the incident after brushing off brief admonishment on pit road from Dalziel's teammate and the No. 8 co-pilot Enzo Potolicchio. The Venezuelan pointed at Montoya and said a few words in Spanish to the Colombian Montoya before storming away.
Baron remained steamed more than a half-hour later, proclaiming that Montoya's move severely hurt the season championship prospects of Dalziel and Potolicchio. The Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series has four races left in 2012.
"I've sent emails to Grand-Am and I've made phone calls to Grand-Am saying Montoya is reckless when he comes in this series. He doesn't (care) about anybody here," Baron said. "He showed that today."
Montoya's appearances in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series are typically rare, and only regularly come when the series races the famed Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. He was added to the Indianapolis event along with NASCAR teammate Jamie McMurray and IndyCar teammate Scott Dixon.
But Baron's disappointment was tempered, as he answered questions about Montoya during a press conference for the race's overall winner. His other entry, the No. 2 Ford Riley driven by Sebastian Bourdais and Alex Popow, scored the overall win by 1.2 seconds over Ganassi's No. 01 BMW Riley driven by Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas.
The win secured Baron's Starworks team the North American Endurance Championship for the best team in three races - the January's Rolex 24 at Daytona, the Six Hours and the Glen and Friday's Brickyard Grand Prix.
The GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing No. 99 Corvette entry proved strong early in the race after Jon Fogarty qualified the Corvette for the race's first starting spot. But on lap 52, the car was called to the garage and retired to the race after leading 13 laps. The car had been penalized twice in the minutes before for first having a pit crew member over the wall too soon and then pitting of sequence. Stallings told the race's radio broadcast that 'conditions were not present to race.'
A team member polishing the undamaged No. 99 during the race had no comment on why the team was out.
Andy Lally, returned to sports cars after winning Rookie of the Year honors in NASCAR, co-piloted the No. 44 Porsche GT3 Cup machine to the win in the Grand Touring division. He was joined in victory lane with his teammate John Potter.
"We just won Indy. I've said that 60 times since we've taken the checkered flag," said Lally. "I choked up in the car and just couldn't believe it."
Lally took over the car midway through the race during a driver change after coaching Potter during the race when two separate rain showers forced teams to use their wet tires.
"I told him, 'Go hard, but don't go as hard as the first idiot who wrecks,' Lally said afterward of his advice.
The result meant Lally, Potter, Popow and Bourdais celebrated their victory with a traditional kiss planted on the yard of bricks along Indianapolis' frontstretch.