Juan Pablo Montoya looked on course to make history at Indianapolis but a penalty for speeding on his final pit stop prevented him from becoming the first driver to win in IndyCar and NASCAR at the Brickyard.
The Colombian took the lead of Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race on the first restart, overtaking polesitter Mark Martin on the outside and then pulling away and building a comfortable gap to the NASCAR veteran.
The Earnhardt Ganassi driver looked in control of the race in a way reminiscent of his Indianapolis 500 victory in 2000, opening a gap of up to 5.5 seconds to Martin at one point, while his pit crew also performed at their best, allowing him to even stretch his lead at times.
However, when Montoya pitted for the last time he was called back in for being too fast on pit entry. Officials reported him at 60.06 mph and 60.11 on sections two and four of the eight into which pit road is divided for timing purposes. The speed limit is set at 55 mph with a 4.99 mph tolerance, which Montoya was determined to have exceeded.
NASCAR cars do not use electronic speed limiters on pit road as in other series and drivers have to finely control their speed with the throttle and brake pedals in order to keep their cars at the desired engine speed.
The Colombian was furious over the issue while speaking to his team on the radio afterward, as he was left in disbelief when handed the penalty. He stated that the lights on his dash showed he was within his referenced rpm limits.
"It kind of sucks. But it is what it is," said Montoya. "Everybody on the team did an amazing job. I thought I was on the speed. We got lights. I was on the lights every time. I was where I was on the previous [stop] and they say I was speeding.
"We had a deal like that before and once it happens, you can't change it, so it is pretty frustrating. It shows what we have done with the team. It actually reminded me of the last time I led here; it was kind of easy, to be honest. I was cruising. The car was stupid fast."
The former Indianapolis 500 winner was left devastated by yet another big frustration at Indianapolis, where he lost the chance of fighting for the Formula 1 World Championship in 2003 after a penalty for an incident with the Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello.
Montoya criticized NASCAR's decision over the radio, and blamed the ruling body for losing him a race he had in the bag. NASCAR's Robin Pemberton said he sympathized with the driver's frustration.
"He pushed the limit, he got the best of pit road all day long and there were two separate sections that he just happened to be over the limit on it," said Pemberton. "He wasn't the only one of the day, but is the one everyone will remember.
"He's a great competitor and I can't imagine anybody, any driver that wouldn't have said at least what he said. He knows we're here and we'll do the best job that we can. He's a furious competitor and I feel bad for him, but it is what it is."
Montoya's crew chief Brian Pattie accepted the penalty and remained upbeat about his team's performance. His driver not only led 116 out of the 160 scheduled laps, but he also set the fastest lap of the race.
"It's electronic. It's not like there is a lot to discuss," said Pattie. "It's not like the old days where everybody is doing handheld [stopwatches]. It's black and white. It is what it is. They did their job. Now we go back and do ours.
"The car was fast. I'm proud of my guys, proud of my guys at the shop. We made one error. I guarantee the 48 [Jimmie Johnson] and the 5 [Martin] knew we were here. So, we'll go to Pocono and we still have to make the Chase."
Although Montoya was unable to round out what would have been a historic feat at Indianapolis, he was still able to become the first driver ever to lead the Indianapolis 500, the U.S. Formula 1 Grand Prix and the Brickyard 400.
His 11th-place finish in the end dropped him down one place in the standings to 10th, although he has extended his gap to 13th place in the championship up to 100 points, getting further towards securing a spot in this year's play-off.