Colombia’s Juan Pablo Montoya achieved his first victory in 14 years Sunday, winning the Pocono 500 open-wheeled IndyCar race in the United States.
Prior to Sunday’s race, which was held in Long Pond, in the northeastern state of Pennsylvania, Montoya had spent seven years away from the Indy circuit, competing instead in Formula 1 and Nascar.
It took Montoya 10 races in his most recent stint to claim his first IndyCar Series win since 2000, according to ESPN.
“It’s been a long road, a lot harder than people realize,” said Montoya.
Colombia’s speed racer had damaged his front wing when he connected with another driver on a pass for the lead in the 167th lap but managed to hold up for the rest of the race. With four laps to go, second place Tony Kanaan was forced to pit for fuel, and Montoya, who had led from the onset, rode away with the victory.
Coming in 2nd place was Montoya’s teammate, Helio Castroneves, giving Team Penske a 1-2 finish.
Speaking on Montoya’s triumphant return, Castroneves said, “Are you kidding? Coming back after 15 years to win a race, he did a great job.”
“As soon as we signed him, I knew he would be an asset for us, and a headache,” added Castroneves.
Montoya’s long-awaited return to the Indy winners’ circle was well-met by an enclave of cheering Colombian fans, according to ESPN, and Montoya did not delay in going out to sign autographs and pose for pictures.
“I had to say thanks for coming,” said the Colombian speedster.
At an average speed of 202.402 mph, the 2014 Pocono 500 was the fastest 500-mile race in IndyCar history, according to ESPN.