Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray met with members of the media at Sonoma Raceway and discussed their plans to compete in the Grand AM race at Indianapolis...
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET, AND JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 MCDONALD’S CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Sonoma Raceway and discussed their plans to compete in the Grand AM race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the changes within their respective teams, why drivers seem to lose their tempers more at Sonoma than other tracks and much more. .
TALK ABOUT YOUR ANNOUNCEMENT AND YOUR SPECIAL PLANS FOR THE FUTURE.
MONTOYA: “We talked to Chip (Ganassi) earlier this year and thought it would be cool when we heard the Grand AM cars were going to Indy, it would be fun to run there. We put all the deal together and Jamie and myself are going to be running that race on Friday, so we are pretty pumped about that.”
MCMURRAY: “It will be different getting to run the road course one direction then doing the oval track in the other direction. Chip called, and like Juan said asked if we wanted to do it, and it sounds like a lot of fun to get to do the Grand AM race. I’ve only got to run one of those cars at Daytona. So, we’re going to do the test July 9th …”
MONTOYA: “Yeah, they’re doing a three-day test I guess over the weekend of the 400 when we’re in Daytona, so we’ll go there on Monday and I believe Jamie is running the morning, and I’m running the afternoon just to get used to it and see what happens. It’s kind of weird. You look at a race weekend, there’s really not a lot of time of practice or anything. It should be okay. It’s just a fun deal.”
CAN YOU GUYS WIN THAT RACE?
MONTOYA: “If we didn’t think we could, I don’t think we would be in it. If you look at every time we run the 24 hours, we’re always competitive. We’ll have to wait and see. We haven’t run those cars since then. I think with that day of practice we’ll be okay. Since this year, the No. 01 really has to work to get good results. It should be fun. I know the first part of the track, is the same part of the track that I ran in F1. And I know the second part from the Moto GP. So, it’s not that hard.”
MCMURRAY: “The best part for Juan and I getting to do that race, is that even though we are teammates here we’re still going to be competitors and want to beat each other. When you go do the Rolex race, it’s a different mentality. It’s crazy how you are both pulling for each other … “
MONTOYA: “I always pull for you. You don’t pull for me?”
MCMURRAY: “I know you do. But, I think that’s good for our racing relationship to get to go do things like this. It seems like every year after the Rolex race, we’re closer. I think that’s really important for the NASCAR side, for us to be closer and want to help each other more. When we go do that race, it seems like it does that automatically. So, I’m looking forward to getting to go up and do the test and then the race. A lot of fun.”
I KNOW THAT JUAN HAS A LITTLE MORE ROAD RACING EXPERIENCE, HAVE YOU ENJOYED THAT AND DO YOU LIKE THAT STYLE?
MCMURRAY: “Yeah, I really enjoy getting to race that car. The only part that I don’t like about those races are that there is discrepancy in speed in other cars. It’s a different challenge because you don’t know who is in the other car. Like when we do the 24 hour race, you get used to racing the slower cars and you kind of know where they are going to give and take. Then they put a different driver in it and it’s completely different. I don’t know that I don’t like that, that’s the challenges that I don’t like as much. As far as driving the car, it’s a lot of fun to get in one of those. I think it make s me appreciate when I watch other forms of racing more. We take for granted in NASCAR, cold tires. You leave the pits and these tires have the most grip as soon as you leave the pits. Those cars are a little bit of a challenge. When you watch an Indy Car race and stuff like that and you see the guys that struggle a little bit, it makes you appreciate it more.”
CAN YOU ADDRESS THE ISSUE OF GRIP ON THIS RACE COURSE?
MONTOYA “I think it’s always fun. The tires are never an issue here to be honest with you. Goodyear does a really good job with the tires they bring here. It’s hard because of the really slow track, so you are always struggling to try to put the power down at least that is always the talk in the garage. Why are they putting the power down better than us? I think this year with the fuel injection it’s going to be pretty interesting with what people do. We’ll see what happens.”
MCMURRAY: “I think for the most part the true road racers don’t like Sonoma as much as they do Watkins Glen. I really enjoy coming here but when I talk to Juan or Marcus (Ambrose) and those guys that have more of a road racing background, the track is quite a bit slower and it’s very slick. Even in qualifying here, you put brand new tires on and you can’t get wide open off of turn seven and turn 11 without spinning the tires. It’s just different challenges than what we find at other tracks.”
MONOTYA: “I think it brings a feel. What we don’t like as a road racer, you don’t make a difference here. It’s very hard to make a difference. If you look at Joey Logano last year, he apologized at the end of his lap and he was on the pole. It’s really hard to make up any lap time because you’ve really got to feather the throttle. For a road racer, you really got to drive the car to be good here. It’s kind of hard.”
WITH THE AMOUNT OF AGGRESSION AND WRECKS AND RETALIATION ON THE ROAD COURSES RECENTLY, DO YOU THINK THAT THE ROAD COURSE HAVE KIND OF BECOME THE NEW SHORT-TRACK RACING IN NASCAR? IF SO, WHAT LEADS TO ALL THE INCIDENTS HERE?
MCMURRAY: “Part of what we have here is you can catch the guy if he does get in to you. You have a chance to get him back pretty quick. It seems like Martinsville and some of those other places, if you get into somebody and they get pushed up out of the groove, normally there are two or three other guys that will follow through. So, the guy can’t get back to you in a quick enough time to retaliate. But, most of the wrecks that happen here just happen from people being idiots. You can’t be the guy that’s run 17th all day, and on the last restart expect that you are going to pass six rows of cars in turn seven. That’s what happens here every single year.”
MONTOYA: “Every single restart with less than 20 laps to go ….”
MCMURRAY: “Somebody just does something silly. There is just no way you are going to make up that much ground when you’ve raced all day and you haven’t been able to do it. Most of the time the wrecks here just happen from people losing their mind and it’s easy to do.”
HOW DO YOU GUYS FEEL ABOUT WHERE YOU ARE IN POINTS RIGHT NOW?
MONTOYA: “I think we’ve done a lot of progress. If you really go to the team right now and see how different everything is working, it’s pretty amazing. We haven’t had the results we want to have, but there have been a lot of really good changes and we’ve been putting people in the right place. Just because you put somebody in the right place doesn’t mean that overnight you are going to run better. You want to run better overnight, but things have got to change. Everybody has to adapt and it’s a process. I really feel we made a lot of gains on the car; we made a lot of gains on how the whole engine department is working. We’re definitely making progress I think.”
MCMURRAY: “It gets better every week. Like Juan said, we made all those changes in the off season and I don’t think any of us expected to change all those people around and immediately come out and be where we were in 2010. The thing that we had in 2010 that we didn’t have last year and that we are having again this year, is that at some point in each of the races one of our cars is very fast. At some point, whether it’s the beginning, middle, or the end. We’re not able to put the whole thing together but one of our cars has been really quick just about everywhere we’ve been this year. More so I think in the last six or eight weeks. So, we seem to have the speed, we’ve just got to put it all together.
“Most importantly, like Juan said, the teams are working really well together. The way the team is structured with personnel in the engineering department and crew chiefs, it’s so much better than it was last year. It’s hard for you guys to see that when you write your stories, but when you’re on the inside it’s a completely different environment than what it was a year ago. It’s all for the better and Chip is still out hiring people and looking for more engineers and people to make it better than what it is right now. I think for us, my guess is somewhere around the last 10 races you’re going to see a lot of the progress. It takes time. There’s different suspensions, different simulations every week and sometimes they don’t always work. It’s kind of testing and trying to get things better. It’s a big difference than where it was a year ago.”
WHAT ARE YOU THOUGHTS ON CONTENDING HERE THIS WEEK?
MONTOYA “Yeah, I mean last year we did. Last year I was running third when I got spun out. I think we both can be pretty good here. We tested, and I felt we were the best we’ve been. We went to VIR and the first time I was like we are making some gains. The biggest struggle always for me here is qualifying. The way you’ve got to drive the car, I don’t know if it’s me or the way we set up the car. I couldn’t save myself to qualify here. If we qualify half way decent we’re going to be really good, if not we’re still going to be okay.”
MCMURRAY: “I feel good about this week. This is one of those weekends you just have to stay out of trouble. You can have a really good car here and I got cut up in the Brian Vickers/Tony Stewart deal up in turn 11 last year and then we got our track position back and had a flat tire. Like Kurt Busch won the race here last year and I watched the race back and he had one of those days where he stayed out longer than everybody the first segment. Just so happened they saw the No. 13 car run out of gas, he (Kurt Busch) pitted, everything worked out perfect for him. I think to win at a road course, your day has to go perfect and you can’t have any of the mistakes that we’ve had in the past. Not always self-inflicted, just mistakes.”
IS IT FRUSTRATING TO GO THROUGH A SEASON KNOWING THAT ALL OF THE HARD WORK IS PROBABLY NOT GOING TO GET YOU TO WHERE YOU WANT TO BE UNTIL THE VERY END? JUAN IN ALL YOUR YEARS WITH THE TEAM ITS BEEN UP AND DOWN, WHAT’S THAT BEEN LIKE FOR YOU AND TRYING TO GET IT TO WHERE YOU WANT TO BE CONSISTANTLY?
MCMURRAY: “Frustrating yes, but racing is frustrating because you want to do well. Part of what makes it so great when you win is the struggles that you fight getting there. It’s frustrating because you want to win but at the same time last year was much more frustrating because I felt like we were going in circles. We knew what we needed to work on, work on it and then realize that wasn’t it. We would kind of end up 180 from where we needed to be. I said the last 10 races just because that kind of how our season is broken down. You race to the Chase and if you don’t make the Chase then it’s the last 10 races. I see progress right now, but I think for us to contend to win we still have a little ways to go. The cars are getting better each week, and like I said I feel like in the last six weeks one of our cars has been really fast. You don’t go from running 15th to winning just overnight. It takes baby steps. But, I feel like we’re heading in the right direction. I kind of say the last 10 races because I think it’s going to take that long to get to where we need to be.”
MONTOYA: “Personally for me, when I started here we gave ourselves about three years. Year three, we made the Chase. Year four, we won a ton of races, earned more poles than any other team, we were really good. It seemed like everything was going in the right direction and for the next year everybody felt that we had such good cars we just dropped the ball completely. As Jamie said last year was frustrating because it was more about arguing than getting things done. I think personally that was the problem. It was who got more power, who could pull more, it was frustrating as hell. I think once we changed everybody on the team, like right now it’s nice to be here. It’s really fun to be here. Part of that is we have great sponsors and people that really believe in us and support us. We have really good people that you know they are working their butts off together to give us better race cars every week. Like you go out on a race weekend now and you’re like I think we can run good. The last few weeks we’ve been going out and man we just had a good car. We’ve just to figure out how we can be better all day. We’ve just got to put it all together and we’re getting there. Last week we ran really good, the week before we ran good as well. It’s hard because you want to make a big jump. I think we put in key people in the right places and things are happening.”
DO YOU GET JEALOUS OF THE INDY CAR TEAM’S SUCCESS?
MONTOYA: “I laugh because this year has been the hardest year for them in quite a few years. Welcome. (laughter).”
MCMURRAY: “We joked around at Texas right when Scott (Dixon) took the lead and Dario (Franchitti) had to pit because he couldn’t drive his car. I was like, that’s that weekends we have. You’ll see one guy really good and one guy really bad. It’s hard. But, the Indy Car side has been so good they haven’t fought those same issues. But it seems like they have got that turned around now and are back where they are. I don’t think we are jealous, we’re happy for those guys.”
MONTOYA: “We’re there for the company. You look at the Grand AM program and it was the same thing for last year. They won everything. I think this year with the engine it really penalized them and they really got to work for it.”
DO YOU FIND YOURSELF GETTING ANGRY AND YOU HAVE TO DEAL WITH THE ANGER WITH OTHER DRIVERS ON THE TRACK?
MONTOYA: “One thing is getting frustrated, but angry no. I think you get more frustrated when you get to people and you’re trying to do it the right way. You get beside them and they just turn like you are not there and they keep trying to act like you’re not there and you have to do something about it. But for me personally, I think that happens everywhere.”
KEEPING YOUR COMPOSURE IS SO CRITICAL ON A ROAD COURSE, WHAT IS IT AT THIS PLACE THAT JUST SETS PEOPLE OFF?
MCMURRAY: “It gets the most frustrating at the end if you stay out of trouble all day long, and then you get down to the last … I was running second or third here a couple of years ago and had a green/white/checkered and somebody came from four or five rows back and got me in turn seven.
“It’s tough. It’s like being at a plate race and staying out of trouble all day and getting in a wreck on the last lap. You go from running in the top five to finishing 30th all because of one guy. It just seems like it happens more here than other places. Some of that comes from the speeds being slower and having the braking zones. I think a lot of it is because we don’t do it every single week. I think if we raced road course races every single week it would be better. Watkins Glen isn’t quite as bad as here. Here is probably the worst.”
MONTOYA: “Like Jamie said, here is so bad because the corner speed is so low. When you go into the braking zone you feel you’re doing 20 miles per hour so you feel brave enough to sit in there.”
Source: Team Chevy Racing