JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET IMPALA SS met with media and discussed his three years in NASCAR, last lap accidents in Daytona & Talladega, windsurfing, and more. THREE YEARS AGO AT CHICAGO, YOU WERE INTRODUCED AS COMING INTO NASCAR RACING....
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET IMPALA SS met with media and discussed his three years in NASCAR, last lap accidents in Daytona & Talladega, windsurfing, and more.
THREE YEARS AGO AT CHICAGO, YOU WERE INTRODUCED AS COMING INTO NASCAR RACING. HOW HAS THE PROGRESS DEVELOPED FOR YOU AS A DRIVER? DOES IT SEEM LIKE THAT WAS THREE YEARS AGO? "No, not really. Time really flies. It's actually surprising that three years ago I flew up here and did the press conference and it was the first time really looking at the cars and everything. It was really exciting. To see how far we've come over the three years, I think everybody, really, when I came in, didn't know what to expect. For me, when we talked to Chip (Ganassi), we knew the team wasn't where it needed to be. We needed to do a lot of changes and things were going to happen and it was going to be up and down. And I was okay with it. And we built a team. Things are getting better. We're getting more competitive and right now where we are in points is all about surviving and bringing the car home every week and see what happens."
WERE YOU SURPRISED THE WAY THAT THE DAYTONA 400 FINISHED LAST WEEKEND, OR IS THAT JUST A PRODUCT OF RESTRICTOR PLATE RACING WITH 15 CARS JAMMED UP? "I've been to Daytona now six times and I think all of them have been like that. So I don't know why all of a sudden it's an issue. It's what it is. At Talladega there are always wrecks. At Daytona there are always wrecks. People pay to go and see that, I guess. And it's fun; I don't mind. It sucks when you're in the middle of it but it is what it is, you know? Its restrictor plate at its best. There is always somebody going to walk out of there mad and ticked off that they should have or could have and when the caution came out why some people raced to the flag and some people didn't. It is what it is. You've got to be aware. You've got to learn to ride a little and be lucky. I was very lucky with that No. 5 (Mark Martin) car. It's like when I saw them, I started coming off the corner and knew they were going to get together and I went to the bottom as fast as I could. Even like that, we got tangled a little and did a little bit of damage, but we recovered from that and we made a mistake on pit road trying to cover the hole on the right side because it was one to go and we had to come back in and lost a lap. But we stuck to our guns and did our job and we had enough runs to make the car good in the pack. At the end, we actually made it a little too tight. I was really loose on the run before and we made a little adjustment and it was just too tight, but I guess it's the luck of the draw. I guess when Kyle (Busch) came down, it was the same thing that happened at Talladega two months ago when we were there. It was the same thing, you know. He moved up and came down. The car was already there, too late. It's what it is. It sucks but you know what I mean?
YOU FIND BALANCE IN THE SEASON WITH WINDSURFING AND OTHER THINGS YOU DO AWAY FROM THE TRACK. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU'RE DOING IN THE OFF-WEEK AND THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING DOWN TIME? "I think the down time is as important as the weekends. You've got to be able to, every weekend, whether the last one was good or bad, you've got to have your head clear and come to the next weekend with a completely open mind. And in a way it's cool that we have a break, but on the other side of the coin we have a lot of momentum in the team and don't want to break that. I'm going to Aruba for a week and I'm going to hopefully windsurf."
CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT HOW YOU GOT INTO WIND SURFING? "My engine guy in Formula 1 used to do wind surfing. In Australia, my second year there, he invited me and we got some gear there and we went out and I really liked it. I bought some gear in Miami. I used to do it always every time I went to Miami, so it was twice a year. In Europe, the water was way too cold. So I never got in the water there. So, living in Miami, it's ideal. The wind is over the winter and the summer it is absolutely dead and it sucks. It is horrible. I'm bored out of my mind."
DO YOU THINK YOU SHOULD BE WINNING MORE AND RUNNING FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP? "I think we are bringing the team together to do that. It doesn't matter if I am in a Hendrick car or a Ganassi car or a Gibbs car. It is what it is. I am happy where I am. I am working hard to make sure we become one of those teams. Right now we are a smaller team and I don't think it makes a big difference. We've shown that as long as you have the right people working for you, you will be fine. I think our car today is as good as anybody's. We need a little bit more but everybody does. You see where we came from last year to where we are right now, when you run third, fourth, fifth...from there to winning, it is what it is . We keep working, keep trying to come up with new ideas, new things. It is more of looking at what everybody else is doing and learning. Why are they doing this? Why are they doing that? At the same time, what do we do. How can we make ourselves better and we are doing that every week."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT MARTIN TRUEX, JR. LEAVING EGR? "Good for him. If he wanted to go and he thinks he has got more stability at Waltrip's, you know, good for him. It doesn't really, you know what I mean. Ourselves as a team, we have got to look for the good things and the bad things. I think he has too many questions and tough luck. Hopefully he runs better there than he is here. For us it is more right now my focus is not who is going to be my teammate or whatever. My focus is making the Chase and making sure this team runs good."
HOW IS EGR WORKING TO BRING YOU AN OPPORTUNITY FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP? "To tell you the truth, I think we are better prepared than ever as a team. I think our pit crew is working, we are having good pit stops now. We are having good calls for the races. Good strategy. I think the time we have been together with Brian (Pattie, crew chief), over a year. The engineering side, we have been developing from the beginning. Everything is really coming together. Most of the guys are the same guys, the mechanics working on the car. Really we have the ball rolling, we have a lot of momentum.
"They are giving me as much as they can, same as I am. Maybe I am missing a little bit myself driving these cars. I don't know. If you look at every week, the pace is there. What we are missing for wins is very small. Right now, more than wins is good results. I am sure we are a little more aggressive sometimes in changes and strategies, we could be winning races. The name of the game today is making the Chase and that is what we are trying to achieve."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT QUALIFYING HERE TODAY? "Qualifying today should be good. I don't know. We seem to run good on the mile and a half tracks. I hope it is good."
DO YOU HAVE ANY RITUALS THAT YOU STICK TO EVERY SINGLE RACE MORNING? "Nope. I always get in the same way in the car. Put the belts the same way. Do everything the same way whether it is practice or the race, just to make sure. If you do something and it is comfortable, it is important to keep it that way. Make sure you put the belts the same way. Make sure you do this the same way, that the same way. If you do that, you will be fine. But I am really, I mean, what is going to happen is what is going to happen. You have got to try to avoid to the bad things and take advantage when you can. Sometimes taking advantage is a risk. If the risk is too high, you have got to judge how much of a risk there is when it happens. You have to try and race smarter every time."
-credit: gm racing