JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET IMPALA SS, met with members of the media Michigan International Speedway and discussed racing at MIS, getting in the Chase, progress of his team, testing and other topics. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT RACING...
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET IMPALA SS, met with members of the media Michigan International Speedway and discussed racing at MIS, getting in the Chase, progress of his team, testing and other topics.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT RACING HERE AT MICHIGAN THIS WEEKEND? "Well, if you think about Michigan and the No. 42 car, normally we really suck here. (SMILES) We do! (LAUGHS). But this year, for some reason we seem to be running good everywhere. We ran good here. We actually had a really good car, we were running third and I think the last restart, Mark Martin had a pretty bad start and I gave him a big push and actually pushed the front of the car back and we lost a ton of downforce and we finished like sixth or seventh or something like that. You, know, our plan is to continue to do what we have been doing, play it smart and see where it leads us. Last week was a little frustrating because at the beginning of the race, we had a really fast car and we just really lost it there at the end. It just got really tight. We never really adjusted it that much so we stayed behind people I think."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE PLAN ABOUT DOING THE NUMBERS AND THAT IS HOW YOU AND YOUR CREW CHIEF ARE LOOKING AT THIS WEEK AFTER WEEK AS A CALCULATION? "Yes it is. It is simple, it is an average. We know what average we have to run to be in the Chase. It doesn't matter who beats you that one day or another, you can't start being start being focused on one. Last week, you have Biffle (Greg) in front of me. You have Edwards (Carl) in front of me and you have Kyle Busch and all three guys are right around where I am running. One is on the bubble, one is a little behind me and one is just in front of me. And you start thinking 'Oh, I need to beat them'. You don't. You still need to think about it where everybody else is running. This week, you might be ahead of them or behind them, you just have to keep doing what you are doing. I think overall, we have been doing that. We just have to keep doing that. Play it smart, don't take any big risks and hopefully it pays off."
HOW IDENTICAL IS THE CAR SETUP FOR THIS WEEKEND TO WHEN YOU RACED HERE TWO MONTHS AGO? "I think for today it will be very close, at least to start with where we qualify the car. I think for the race, we have to go very different because the track conditions I think are going to be a lot hotter than it was two months ago. I don't remember it being this hot when we were here in June, I don't know if I am wrong, but it is very humid right now. Not fun."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW SATISFIED YOU ARE ABOUT THIS YEAR UP TO NOW? "I think last year was a little bit hard, but apart from that, I think it has been...I am really happy. At this time in my life, I can't complain. I knew it was going to be hard learning the cars. I think when we went to the COT, it was hard because we had to develop a new car and our team wasn't as big as some others and it took a little time. We changed crew chiefs twice, that didn't help. But now that everything is settled and everything is running, everybody is on the same page and that is what is making us run this good. It is not myself driving better or having better cars. I think everybody is just doing their part and that is what it takes. If you can put everybody on the same page to do what everybody is supposed to and things work out good."
HOW MUCH IMPACT HAS THE CURRENT ECONOMY HAD ON WHAT YOUR TEAM HAS BEEN ABLE TO DO WITH TECHNOLOGY, ETC.? "For our budgets, I don't think it was as bad as the bigger teams. I think if you really think about it, a team like Hendrick, the budget is a lot larger than ours. I think they probably got affected a little. We've been doing what we need to be doing. What we think we need. If we need something, we will ask for it and it seems fine. The only thing is we are hoping to run the No. 8 car in more races and so far that hasn't happened."
THERE ARE A FEW DRIVERS IN THE CHASE THAT DON'T' HAVE A WIN YET, DO YOU THINK YOU CAN WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP WITHOUT A WIN THIS YEAR? "We'll see. We still have a few races before the Chase starts and once the Chase starts...Our real goal this year was making the Chase. When we set down with Brian (Pattie, crew chief) a year ago, we said, next year we need to make sure we make the Chase and if we don't, we have to be a contender for it, we can't run 20th every week. We did that. We've been working, we are getting better every week and we just have to keep doing the same thing. By the time the Chase starts, we will see. We'll see where we stand, how are cars perform. I think you can start taking some more risks and see what happens."
IF YOU FEEL LIKE THERE IS ENOUGH CUSHION BETWEEN YOU AND 13TH IN POINTS WHEN WE GET TO ATLANTA, A TRACK WHERE YOU HAVE BEEN VERY STRONG, WILL YOU GO FOR THE WIN? WILL YOU GET MORE AGGRESSIVE? "If I can secure a place in the Chase in Atlanta, I am definitely not going to take any risks. For me, if finishing 10th in Atlanta would mean I make the Chase, we'll do everything in our power to finish 10th or eighth. We're not going....or we are running second, we are not going to do anything stupid and finish 25th and go to Richmond and maybe blow up a motor or something could happen and miss the Chase. No, we have to be smart about what we are doing."
MICHIGAN HAS BEEN WON ON FUEL MILEAGE MANY TIMES, AS A DRIVER, IT IS FRUSTATING THAT THE FASTEST CAR DOESN'T WIN AND ARE YOU AND YOUR TEAM TALKING ABOUT HOW TO SAVE FUEL ON SUNDAY? "It is a team sport. It is not only how fast your car is, but how good the fuel mileage is, how good it handles, how good everything is. I mean, winning on fuel mileage is part of the show. I don't like when the races go short because it is not part of your plan, but if the race goes all the distance and somebody can make it and you can, it is good. And if you can't, then you have to work on it. You maybe have to give up a little bit of horsepower and pace for the fuel mileage. It is always a balance."
TALK ABOUT VISITING GRACELAND. ARE YOU AN ELVIS FAN? "We went to Memphis for the Target House and went to the hospital and visited the kids. We flew there right after the race so I had Tuesday morning off, so I went there with all the family and some friends. It was pretty cool, it is a really really tacky house (SMILES) but it was cool. (LOUD LAUGHTER) It was. I know for the time, where he was and everything, that was cool but...like the yellow room and this and that, it was different.
"I don't mind his music. Do I turn the radio to listen to Elvis, no, but if a song comes on, I think it is pretty cool."
WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE TESTING COME BACK? "I would keep it the same way it is right now. I don't think it has helped us at all. I think maybe we should be allowed to do a little pre-season testing but once the season starts, it should be the same way it is right now. Most of the cars get one sometimes two tire tests and that is it. Goodyear is flexible enough sometimes, you can get a little bit of work done. You could be testing everyday and learn and learn, but you are going to get to the point where that the amount of dollar you spend on performance increases because you aren't going to find things so easy."
HAVE YOU HAD TO CHANGE YOUR DRIVING STYLE AND IS IT HARD WHEN YOU ARE POINTS RACING? "I think in every sport you are in, it is points racing. At the end of the day, it matters who wins the championship, it is not who wins the races. So you have to be smart about it. Here is pretty interesting because you have 26 races and then there's a cutoff. So you need to make sure you are inside that window when the cutoff comes to run for the championship. I think if this was the current championship and the position of where I am right now running good with a good car, the only way to beat Tony today would be trying to beat him every week. Even that probably wouldn't happen, so I think the way it is right now, I think makes it more exciting for the fans because there are two races. The Race to the Chase and the Race to the Championship. I think for the fans that is far better."
ONCE WE ARE IN THE CHASE, WILL YOU CHANGE AND GO FOR WINS? "If we are in that position to, we will but if we aren't, then you still have got to score the points. At the day, it is about whoever scores the highest points. I know the way the championship has always gone, to win you are going to have to win races and you are going to have to be in the top-five every week. We know that. But at the same time, the car one weekend is only good enough for 10th, you better bring the car home 10th than wrecking and coming in 30th and being out of the championship. You gotta to be smart about how you race I think.
"I nearly threw it (the CART championship) away in Australia. I was running second, I would have finished second, I had a 25-point lead going in, I needed to finish like 20th in the last race and trying to beat Dario (Franchitti), I stuffed it in the wall. I still won the championship, we ended up even in points, but I had the championship in the bag and I nearly threw it away."
SO YOU HAVE LEARNED THIS PATIENCE THROUGH MATURITY? "You learn through the years. I made my good amount of mistakes through the years and you learn. There is a find balance and here, the racing is so much closer that you don't have the pleasure of going to the next week and thinking you are always going to have it. In Formula One, when you have the fastest car, you have the fastest car 90% of the year most of the time. So even if you make a mistake, you know next week you are going to be up there. Where in this sport I could be running sixth last week and I have been running top-10 every week, I could come out here and run 20th and don't know what hit us. Why are we so bad. We wouldn't even know that. We'll see."
-credit: gm racing