JUAN PABLO MONTOYA NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Phoenix International Raceway and discussed his fiery crash with a jet dryer during the Daytona 500 last week, the Penske announcement to move to Ford in 2013, and more. Full Transcript:
HOW ARE YOU FEELING (AFTER LAST WEEK’S CRASH AT DAYTONA) “I’m feeling okay. My feet are still a little sore, but not bad. It’s kind of interesting a week later, or five days later, and you’re looking back on that. And there’s actually a shot that shows the impact, and I’m pretty lucky to be honest.”
WHAT DID YOUR WIFE SAY ABOUT IT? THAT HAD TO BE HARD FOR HER TO WATCH: “No, no, no; she was okay. She saw me get out of the car and it’s like, it’s all good. You know what I mean. As long as you get out, it’s all good, no?”
WHAT DID YOU THINK WHEN YOU WATCHED THE REPLAY FOR THE FIRST TIME? “The replay the first time didn’t show anything. It showed the car heading toward the jet dryer and the flame. There’s another shot where you can actually see the car hitting. And that’s what I do for a living, I guess.”
You go oh, that’s going to hurt. It wasn’t too bad.
CAN YOU TAKE US THROUGH THE CHAIN OF EVENTS THAT HAPPENED BEFORE THE CRASH WHERE YOU WERE COMPLAINING ABOUT THE CAR? “There was a vibration; an issue or the gear box broke. It started to feel weird because then I shifted and it depends on the rpm; it was like on or off. And I said (to the crew on the radio) look, I think there’s something wrong. We looked at everything and everything was fine. And I went out again and we had a problem with the car and that was it, you know. We move on.”
WHERE DID YOUR ENGINE END UP? “It was in the car; barely, but it was in the car. It wasn’t the start of the season that we wanted. I think as a team, I would say we had a very good team bonding experience (laughter), and we move on. We’re in Phoenix and everybody was okay out of that accident. The guy driving the jet dryer, it was very important that he was okay and I was okay and everybody around (us) was good. So, now we’re here and I think we’re going to have a good car here, and that’s it.”
DID YOU HAVE TIME TO HAVE AN ‘OH, SHIT’ MOMENT BEFORE YOU HIT THE JET DRYER? “Well, you do. It sucks because the car spun and I’m going oh, driver’s side, that’s going to suck. That’s the only thing. You don’t think oh my God I’m going to kill myself. Nah. You go oh, that’s going to hurt. It wasn’t too bad.”
DID FIRE SHOOT THROUGH THE CAR AND THROUGH THE COCKPIT? “Yeah, there was a little flames for a second. It wasn’t much. It didn’t even get hot. It’s like I saw the flames everywhere and I’m like, I’d better get out of this fast. That was it.”
IS YOUR FOOT BRUISED? “Yeah it’s just the top of my feet where it hit; it actually broke the boot (protective heat shield that goes on driver’s shoe) and everything.”
CREW CHIEF, CHRIS HEROY, JOINED THE Q&A SESSION:
CAN YOU EXPLAIN TECHNICALLY WHAT EXACTLY HAPPENED TO THE CAR? WHAT BROKE ON THE CAR?
HEROY: “Yeah, it was the truck arm that failed.”
WAS IT JUST ONE? CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT THAT’S HOOKED-UP TO AND WHAT ALL THAT DOES?
HEROY: “It’s hooked-up to the housing. One failed and then the other, because of the one failing. The housing came out, basically.”
DID YOU HAVE ANY INDICATION? YOU SAID YOU FELT A VIBRATION. COULD IT HAVE BEEN THE FIRST ONE GOING BEFORE THE SECOND ONE WENT AND YOU LOST CONTROL OF THE CAR?
MONTOYA: “No, I’ll be honest with you. In my opinion I think it was close to failing and it hadn’t failed yet because the guys went underneath the car and they checked everything and they moved and pulled everything and everything was in place. It was just the loading of the car. It was just too high.”
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT PENSKE MOVING TO FORD IN 2013? A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT YOUR ORGANIZATION
HEROY: “That’s obviously Mr. Penske’s choice. We’re happy being a part of Team Chevy.”
WHAT WAS THE REACTION FROM OTHER DRIVERS, NOT ONLY IN NASCAR, BUT IN OTHER MOTORSPORTS?
MONTOYA: “I think overall, people were kind of amazed that I walked out of that one. Honestly, everybody was being pretty amazed. Everyone has been really supportive and everything. The bright side is you can joke about it.”
WHAT ABOUT (TEAM OWNERS) CHIP (GANASSI) AND FELIX (SABATES)?
MONTOYA: “Chip called me Monday and he was like, are you okay? And I’m like, yeah, I’m good, I’m good. We’ll move on. We’re good. I don’t know. I don’t think things like that like I mean, they’re terrible; you look at it and I think it was a freak accident and that was it.”
DID THIS SHAKE YOU OR RATTLE YOU?
MONTOYA: “No, not really. The way I look at it, I always looked at it as either you’re going to be okay, or you’re not. And I don’t think in NASCAR you’re going to hit any harder than I did.”
DID THIS GIVE YOU EVEN MORE FAITH IN THE (SAFETY) OF THE CARS?
MONTOYA: “People, like when the COT came out, people complained about it and it wasn’t this and it wasn’t that and the view and the size and the this. I’ll guarantee you if we would have been in the older cars I wouldn’t have been okay. So I’m pretty happy we are in these cars. It’s pretty amazing what NASCAR does.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON DANICA PATRICK AND HOW SHE DID DURING HER FIRST SPEEDWEEKS AND WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR HER?
MONTOYA: “She was really unlucky. My (first) Daytona was pretty short; I think hers was worse than mine. I don’t think she was on fire; but apart from that she was involved pretty early in the Nationwide race and in the Cup race, it lasted three laps. And after that, yeah; you want to race but when you are 30 laps down you don’t want to be in the way of people.”
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU HAVE FOR HER?
MONTOYA: “I think she knows that she’s got to be patient and just go through all the motions and see what happens.”
TALK ABOUT BEING IN PHOENIX NOW AND MOVING AWAY FROM THE HECTIC PACE OF DAYTONA
MONTOYA: “You know, I think it’s actually exciting to come to a regular race track; and out of the restrictor plates. We’ve done a lot of work over the winter. What we really did over the winter, we’re going to start to see where we are and how much work ahead it is and where the performance of the car is.”
HOW DID YOU EXPLAIN THE FIERY CRASH TO YOUR KIDS?
MONTOYA: “I’ll tell you, my kid was freaked-out. My oldest kid was a little bit freaked-out, but he’s okay. It’s okay. It’s part of racing. It happens. And that’s it.”
JEFF GORDON SHOWED HIS CHILD THE TAPE OF HIS CAR UPSIDE DOWN
MONTOYA: “Yeah, it’s part of racing. It’s what we do. It’s something that is there. It’s a factor, but you don’t think about it. If you start thinking about something like that, you’d better get out of the car.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE NO. 48 (JIMMIE JOHNSON) AND THE NASCAR PENALTY?
MONTOYA: “No comment (laughs). I don’t want to go there (laughs).”
DO YOU HAVE A COMMENT ON PENSKE’S ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT GOING TO FORD IN 2013?
MONTOYA: “I’m surprised that they announced it that early. Good for them; I don’t know. Time will tell what happens to them. It doesn’t really affect us. We’re really happy here with Chevy. We’ve been doing a really good job with them and I hope we continue that.”
WILL THAT MAKE FOR A FORD POWERHOUSE WITH PENSKE AND ROUSH?
MONTOYA: “Well, either that or it’s going to spread the force a little thinner, you know what I mean. Right now, Ford is one team. With this, it’s going to make it two teams. And I think it’s going to affect Jack (Roush) more than it’s going to help him. I don’t mind that (laughs).”
ON RUNNING AT LAS VEGAS NEXT WEEK, A LOT OF TEAMS HAVE TESTED AT NASHVILLE
MONTOYA: “I’ve been there.”
ARE YOU GUYS READY FOR THE INTERMEDIATE TRACKS?
MONTOYA: “Yeah, I guess so. I did a tire test in November there, but with the old crew. So, I think the bigger thing is one, how good the performance of the car is. And two, it’s how close we’re going to be on set-up and how close what they want to run I’m going to be comfortable with. And it’s just getting all that together.”
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE PHOENIX TRACK NOW?
MONTOYA: “It’s okay. We’ll see. I haven’t been on it, so we’ll see.”
ARE YOU READY FOR LAS VEGAS?
MONTOYA: ‘I’ll tell you, the numbers and everything they’ve done with the car is pretty encouraging. So, you’re just waiting to see how good you’re going to be (laughs).”