Juan Montoya gave team owner Chip Ganassi a house-warming present today, winning the inaugural Target Grand Prix at Chicago Motor Speedway.
The sensational rookie from Colombia picked up his second straight win and sixth of the season and regained the series points lead in the first race on the track built by Ganassi in this suburb west of Chicago.
It was a great show, as a near-sellout crowd of close to 70,000 watched lots of action on the wide, smooth one-mile oval.
Montoya, who broke Nigel Mansell's 1993 rookie record of five wins, started 10th but showed early he was going to be a contender, charging through the pack to fifth over the first 10 laps of the 225-lap event.
Montoya, 23, said the team stayed late Saturday night to work on the car, which had been slow and difficult to drive.
"The changes were great. We were fast in the morning [warmup] and initially I was really aggressive in the race," he said. "I took it easy for a while after that, but then the car was really flying and that was it."
Montoya took the lead from pole-winner Max Papis on Lap 64 and stayed at or near the front the rest of the way, leading a race-high 132 laps.
His biggest competition came from Dario Franchitti, a third-year driver from Scotland who came into the race holding a one-point lead over Montoya in the series standings.
Montoya's lead stayed under one minute over the final 41 laps, and he crossed the finish line just 0.783 seconds ahead of Franchitti.
Montoya now leads Franchitti, 172-168, in the season series.