Montoya, Smith post qualifying interview

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET – POLE WINNER

Juan Pablo Montoya, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Juan Pablo Montoya, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

YOU’VE GOT TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT TOMORROW NIGHT’S RACE “It’s exciting. We unloaded this morning and it was a bit of a headache getting the car to run at the beginning. It was dragging a lot. When we finally got it rolling, we actually felt like we had a pretty decent race car. It’s always hard to judge. But we figured out we’ve got a decent car. In qualifying trim, it was really good. We actually did three runs in the second practice and the first run was horrible; the second run was good and the third was really good. To come here and get it done was exciting.”

HOW DID IT FEEL TO GET THE POLE POSITION TODAY? HOW CLOSE TO THE BOUNDARIES WERE YOU PUSHING? “You push as hard as you can. You drive your car as hard as you can. I went into Turn 1 actually and over shoot a little with the braking. I wanted to run the bottom but I didn’t, but I managed to get a really good exit at the corner. At Turns 3 and 4 it was really good. The car was really good. It was kind of weird. I was expecting the car to be a little bit tighter on basic practice. I asked a couple of people and everybody said they had the same balance and mine was a little looser in qualifying than practice. So I was expecting one thing and it did another, but we managed to still get a good lap.”

YOU WERE THE ONLY DRIVER IN THE LAST BUNCH TO ACTUALLY PICK UP ON YOUR PRACTICE TIME. WHAT DID YOU FIND IN PRACTICE THAT ALLOWED YOU TO KNOW WHAT YOU NEEDED TO DO FOR QUALIFYING OR TO MAINTAIN THE SPEED THAT YOU SET IN PRACTICE? “Our strategy was in the first two hours of practice to dedicate it completely to race trim and not do any qualifying runs. And second practice to just focus on qualifying trim. We had two new sets of tires so we went stickers, scuffs, stickers and made a couple of adjustments and the car felt pretty good. And for qualifying, going out late always helps; the track is faster and I thought we did a good job. We performed well, so it was exciting.”

HOW MUCH OF THIS CAN YOU CARRY OVER GIVEN THE FACT THAT IT’S A NIGHT RACE? “I hope a lot (laughter). It’s nice because when it cools down, the tires don’t drop as much so you don’t slide around as much and you tend to pick-up a lot of grip. So, it should be exciting. For us, right now, we’ve got to run smart and keep doing what we’ve been doing. Being on the pole always helps. And if the car runs somewhere near what we ran in practice, we might have a shot at winning. That would be exciting.”

THIS IS YOUR 7TH POLE, BUT IT IS YOUR FIRST AT A SHORT TRACK. PEOPLE SAY THAT DRIVERS HAVE MORE INPUT ON SHORT TRACKS “I don’t know. What’s the difference between here and New Hampshire?”

NEW HAMPSHIRE IS A MILE. THIS IS THREE-QUARTERS OF A MILE. I CAN SEE WHERE WE’RE GOING; THIS MEANS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO YOU. BUT THIS IS YOUR FIRST POLE ON A TRACK LESS THAN A MILE. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO YOU? “I think if you compare this with Talladega, I would say something that might make sense and I have a couple of Talladega poles. I’ve got to thank (crew chief) Brian (Pattie) and all the guys for those ones. The difference is that you do have to drive the heart out of the car but I feel you’ve got to drive the same way on a mile and a half, do you know what I mean? I actually find it harder on a 1.5-mile than a shorter track. On a shorter track, you do slide around and everything (but) the chance of losing the car is smaller. Do you know what I mean? If the car steps out on a 1.5-mile, you’ve really got to get out of the gas or you’re probably going to hit something. Where here you can hustle the car a little more.”

DO YOU THINK IT HELPED BRIAN PATTIE TO HAVE A WEEK OFF? “I don’t know. We’re good, you know. We’ve been running really good. We’ve been on the same page today. It’s funny; it was frustrating as hell in the beginning and I wanted to scream on that radio and I didn’t. I was very proud of myself (laughter). It’s hard because we’ve got to make sure we stay together and work together and we’re doing a really good job on that, we both are. You could see how frustrated he was as well. It was exciting.”

WE KNOW YOU ARE LOOKING FOR THAT FIRST OVAL TRACK WIN. WHICH DO YOU PREFER, THE SHORT TRACKS, INTERMEDIATE TRACKS, OR SUPERSPEEDWAYS? “Whatever gives a nice trophy (laughter). I really don’t care; do you know what I mean? To be able to go for the championship, and that’s our goal to make the Chase and go for the championship, you’ve got to run well everywhere. So I think once we break that, I think we can get it at quite a lot of them.”

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REGAN SMITH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW CHEVROLET, STARTS SECOND:

Regan Smith, Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet
Regan Smith, Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

YOU ALMOST GOT THE POLE HERE TODAY AND I AM SURE YOU ARE LOOKING FORWARD TO THE RACE: “Yeah, we have been qualifying really well this year and I wish I knew why because the last two or three years, I have not qualified well enough to save my life. The guys have been building faster cars and I think the key for us now is to be able to translate to the race. We’ve had some good race cars this year and some bad luck and we have had some weeks where we wish we had bad luck because we weren’t having the kind of week we wanted to and it seems like we will be able to finish those one so we are right on the cusp of where we want to be but we have to take that next step with the racing.”

CAN YOU PUT YOUR FINGER ON WHAT WOULD MAKE THE DIFFERENCE IN MAKING IT AS GOOD ON RACE DAYS AS IT HAS BEEN IN QUALIFYING: “The key thing is making sure we start off with the balance right. Some weeks we are maybe off a bit there and some weeks we are spot on there. And quite honestly it sounds bad to say this but we have just had bad luck this year. We have been in position to get top-tens and have good runs and maybe we get caught up in a wreck, caught up in somebody else’s wreck, or break a part, or break a motor or different things like that. I can go through the list of every race and name stuff off and the important part is we have had good race cars and a lot of times that is the tough part to get. So we have got fast race cars and we have got good chemistry with everybody and the rest of it will come. I really wanted to get the pole here today just to get that out of the way because we have been qualifying so good here and we will keep working hard on those for a couple more weeks till we get one but I am proud of the guys for today and now we are going to quickly focus on tomorrow.”

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT AT THIS TRACK TO BE STARTING CLOSE TO THE FRONT AND HOW IS THAT GOING TO BENEFIT YOU IN THE RACE TOMORROW NIGHT? “Hopefully I get to answer that question for you tomorrow night afterwards because I have never started this far toward the front here and I have been more towards the back but I hope its really important but I can’t give you an honest answer to that yet. Its important everywhere though in all seriousness because wherever we go the air is cleaner up front and that is the way these cars are now. The further back you go the tougher it is to race and it seems like I have had this conversation before with a lot of guys where when you are racing up here in 5th,6th, 7th it’s a lot easier to race than it is to race back in 25th. I don’t think anyone realizes when you are racing 25th how hard guys actually race back there as compared to what goes on towards the front. Its not that they are trying any harder, its strictly a balance issue because the air is so bad back there and it just affects your car so much differently.”

HOW DOES QUALIFYING WELL HERE HELP YOUR CONFIDENCE GOING FORWARD: “It definitely helps your confidence and I don’t care where it is. If we qualify well then I am happy about it and it means our program is pretty well-rounded and that we have gone to a lot of different places and had speed and that is a good thing. It certainly helps confidence for all of us…….myself and the team.”

-source: team chevy