Patrick, Montoya pleased with starting locations

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It is safe to say that both Juan Pablo Montoya and Danica Patrick arrived on the American racing scene due to their accomplishments at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Montoya with his win in the 2000 Indianapolis 500, and for Patrick being the only female to ever lead the race. And it is probably safe to say that if either of them were to come away with a victory in Sunday’s Brickyard 400, their status as racing legends in the city would improve by leaps and bounds.

In qualifying earlier on Saturday, they took the first step forward in making that a possibility.

Both Montoya and Patrick seemed very pleased with their finishes on Saturday, with Montoya finishing in eighth place with a speed of 185.924. Not too bad for a guy who left NASCAR to return back to IndyCar this past season, and finished fifth in the Indianapolis 500 this past May.

“It’s pretty good,” said Montoya. “The first two qualifying I did pretty clean laps, and I felt like I had a little more. I went for it, and dropped. Starting eighth isn’t bad, because you always feel like you have to be in the top ten here to have a real shot at winning. It’s a long race, a lot of pit-stops, so anything can happen.”

Montoya has had some past success in the Brickyard 400, finishing second in 2007 and leading the race for 116 laps in 2009 before being penalized for leaving the pits .06 MPH too fast. And though Montoya was just here in an IndyCar months ago, he seems pretty comfortable driving around the Motor Speedway in a stock car once again.

“I tell you the last time I was here it was in the 500 this year, and it’s very different,” said Montoya with a laugh.

“It is probably very visually different as well. You know what is good, I have really good references in what to do here. I’ve come here enough in a stock car. I know a good baseline, instead of what the visual told me. Because if the visual told me, I would have just kept it wide-open all around and bounce off the walls on the straight away. So I just went with the usual reference I went with before, and I did pretty well.”

Patrick on the other hand struggled a little bit in the opening round of qualifying on Saturday, but bounced back for a 14th position at 185.931 MPH. And though she didn’t even make it to the final round of quals, she was very happy with how her car is set-up for tomorrow’s race.

“I mean I’m far better off that last year,” exclaimed Patrick. “Stewart-Haas and the ten car is a better car than what it was last year. The guys spent a lot of time building this new car, and we are really excited to bring it.”

One thing that had Patrick feeling pleased despite not being in the top-ten, is that her car improved it’s speeds with every lap around the track. Now it’ll be interesting to see if she could use that momentum tomorrow to make even more history on this legendary track.