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NEWTON — In each of its eight installments, the IndyCar Series’ annual stop at Iowa Speedway has brought with it good — and often great — racing, with some exciting finishes along the way.
Saturday night’s finish vaulted to the top of the list thanks to Ryan Hunter-Reay’s super-hero-looking drive from 10th to the win in the final nine laps.
But it was the accident that precipitated Hunter-Reay’s win — which thwarted a dominating effort from Tony Kanaan — that might have the longer-lasting effect. With 20 laps to go, Juan Pablo Montoya went to make a pass on Ed Carpenter for sixth position.
Carpenter, who had been running the high line, instead went low and cut off a charging Montoya, who ended up braking hard and sliding into the wall.
“I knew he was kind of coming and been working the inside, and I was kind of struggling on the outside, so I was going to move to the bottom and give the bottom a shot,” Carpenter said. “And I didn’t know he was coming that quick.”
Situations like that often arise out of a lack of communication between driver and spotter in a split-second.
Carpenter was apologetic on pit road after the race, though he knew Montoya was very upset. The Colombian driver gave an arms-raised gesture while waiting to get in the ambulance that almost looked like he was going to throw something in frustration.
“My spotter told me he was looking inside. I didn’t realize he was looking that far up inside,” Carpenter said. “It was too late. Some of it was, he wasn’t anticipating me to go low, and I did, and there wasn’t enough room for him. I apologize for that part of it, but it wasn’t intentional.
“I thought he might (throw his helmet), he was pretty mad. The whole country of Colombia probably won’t be too happy with me.”
Montoya didn’t take much time to speak with media after being checked and released from the infield care center, but made the most of his interview with NBC Sports.
Last week’s winner at Pocono sent a shot to Carpenter, and whether in the heat of the moment or not, promised retribution down the line.
“These guys all preach safer racing, but when you’re gonna pass them, they’re all douchebags,” Montoya said in his TV interview. He was then told no action would be taken by IndyCar to penalize Carpenter, and responded, “Well then I’ll take some action later.”
Carpenter, who only races on ovals as owner of his No. 20 car and has Mike Conway drive on street and road courses, said he hopes Montoya doesn’t follow through on that promise.
He made such declarations after being wrecked out of the Indianapolis 500 by James Hinchcliffe, and nothing has since come of it. It’s not rare for a driver to lash out in the moment and promise to get even, but then work it out off the track.
Regardless, Carpenter knows Montoya won’t forget the incident soon.
“He’s an aggressive driver, I’m sure we’ll be racing together at Milwaukee and Fontana. Hopefully I can talk to him and I’ll apologize for the part I was wrong,” Carpenter said. “I think he’s professional enough he wouldn’t intentionally retaliate and do something reckless. Certainly what I did wasn’t intentional, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t end his day. I hate that. I never want to put a guy in a situation like that.
“If I was in his situation, I’d be mad too. But all I can say is it wasn’t intentional and I’m sorry.”
The IndyCar Series is next in action with a doubleheader at the Grand Prix of Toronto, with races on Saturday and Sunday.
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