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July 27, 2013

JPM riding for his health and his job

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.

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