Lean, mean Montoya cycling for his health as he drives for his job with Ganassi

  • Article by: JENNA FRYER , AP Auto Racing Writer
  • Updated: July 26, 2013 - 4:35 PM

INDIANAPOLIS — Juan Pablo Montoya keeps a detailed log of all his rides.

Not in the stock car, but on his mountain bike.

All of them, every daily 2-hour trek in sunny Miami where the stocky Colombian tries to pedal himself into shape. He's never too far from his favorite two-wheeled ride — at the track, like Talladega and Charlotte, or any locale when he can find some open space and just go.

There's been so much cycling to keep track of, too: More than 70 rides, and he is closing in on 1,000 miles this year and counting.

JPM, NASCAR driver, has morphed into JPM, fitness freak. His quest has even taken him to a pilates studio, where wife Connie convinced him to try a handful of classes.

About the only part of his workout routine he won't detail is exactly how much weight he's dropped. But it's clear by looking at his frame that he's in the best shape of his stock car career. Yes, he was tired of the flab, but not just because he was overweight, but because of what it represented.

He's doing it all with one goal in mind.

"I want to (expletive) succeed in this," he said. "I'm tired of sucking."

Montoya just might turn it around in Indianapolis, because he was back on top of the Brickyard on Friday.

Just like he was when he won the 2000 Indianapolis 500.

Just like he could have been at least two other times in the Brickyard 400.

Yes, it was only the top time in practice, but it's a sign that Montoya will be a contender again at Indy. He needs to be, for the sake of his sanity and perhaps his job. Montoya is in the final year of his contract with Chip Ganassi Racing, where he's won two races in the eight years since he abruptly left Formula One for NASCAR.

His only wins were on road courses, and he's not been to Victory Lane since 2010. Montoya heads into Sunday's race at Indy ranked 23rd in the Sprint Cup standings with three top-10 finishes on the year.

Ganassi won't be pinned down on Montoya's future as driver of the No. 42 Chevrolet.

"We're all trying to get results here. We're just working on results," he said. "Juan has a deep history with our team, and we want to give him every opportunity to do well. All of our drivers who have deep histories with our team, we go out of our way to make sure they are given every opportunity."

The opportunities have been few and far between for Montoya, who won the Indy 500 and the 1999 CART title driving for Ganassi but hasn't found the same success since reuniting with the car owner in NASCAR. Part of his struggles are linked to the rollercoaster performance of the Ganassi organization, which has failed to put together consistent seasons.

The team owner ordered a massive organizational overhaul after the 2011 season, and the results are only now showing.

Montoya, one of the highest regarded drivers in the world when he jumped to NASCAR, admits the struggles have been draining.

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