COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Juan Pablo Montoya can win with almost any racecar he is given.
The 45-year-old Colombian has taken checkered flags in NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula One, IMSA and rally cars. He’s won the Indianapolis 500 twice and championships in IMSA and the IndyCar predecessor Champ Car World Series.
But Montoya’s next drive will bring him to Central Ohio.
Meyer Shank Racing announced Wednesday that Montoya will join its IMSA driver lineup next year for endurance races, completing a team roster that will try for its first WeatherTech SportsCar Championship overall title after winning two straight titles in a lower vehicle class.
“I’m really excited to be joining Meyer Shank Racing next year,” Montoya said in a release. “I’ve always seen Mike (Shank, team owner) around the track and we had a really simple, straightforward conversation to get this deal put together for next year.”
MSR, based in Pataskala, will take an Acura ARX-05 DPi prototype entry from Team Penske next year, an organization for which Montoya drove the same car from 2018 to 2020. The DPi (Daytona Prototype International) vehicles are by far the fastest in IMSA’s WeatherTech series, virtually guaranteeing the DPi class champion an overall championship.
Montoya won the DPi title in 2019 with other full-time driver Dane Cameron, who will be one of MSR’s full-time drivers in 2021.
“Dane and I have a really great relationship that has also turned into a friendship,” Montoya said. “We both really understand each other and know what we need from each other to be competitive.”
Montoya, however, will race only the four endurance events for MSR next year, which are races six or more hours long. IMSA races range from about two hours – utilizing two drivers per car that switch out mid-race – to six-, 12- and 24-hour events that use three to four drivers.
Montoya completes MSR’s 2021 IMSA lineup, which has Cameron and Olivier Pla racing full-time and NASCAR driver AJ Allmendinger joining for February’s 24 Hours of Daytona.
“I know A.J. from back when I ran NASCAR and we banged wheels more than once,” Montoya said.
Montoya’s racing career includes 15 IndyCar and Champ Car wins, seven Formula One grand prix victories, six IMSA/Grand Am wins and two NASCAR Cup Series wins. Those victories include the Indianapolis 500 in 2000 and 2015, the Monaco Grand Prix in 2003 and the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2007, 2008 and 2013.
“I’ve won at Daytona several times, but we have yet to score a victory with the Acura,” Montoya said. “It would be great to get that first victory and I know that with the lineup that Mike has put together we’re capable of doing that.”
The Colombian is one of just two active racers to have won two legs of the Triple Crown of Motorsport (Indianapolis 500, Monaco Grand Prix and 24 Hours of Le Mans). And he is one of only three drivers ever (along with Mario Andretti and Dan Gurney) to win races in Indy cars, Formula One cars and NASCAR Cup cars.
MSR’s DPi program will replace its No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 in IMSA’s GTD (Grand Touring Daytona) class. That car won class titles in 2019 and 2020.
IMSA’s 13-race WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season begins in late January at Daytona and concludes in early October at Road Atlanta. The series returns to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Sunday, May 16.