MONTOYA UNVEILS STORY BEHIND MOVE TO NASCAR ON WIND TUNNEL SPEED TO RE-AIR GORDON/MONTOYA SPECIAL 'TRADIN' PAINT' Dave Despain interviewed Juan Pablo Montoya after his press conference during this weekend's NASCAR Nextel Cup ...
MONTOYA UNVEILS STORY BEHIND MOVE TO NASCAR ON WIND TUNNEL
SPEED TO RE-AIR GORDON/MONTOYA SPECIAL 'TRADIN' PAINT'
Dave Despain interviewed Juan Pablo Montoya after his press conference during this weekend's NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway. Montoya will join Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates next year, replacing Casey Mears in the No. 42 Dodge NASCAR Nextel Cup Series entry.
Montoya's announcement has reverberated throughout the racing world. He will become the first driver to move full time into Nextel Cup Series competition from the Formula One World Championship -- and Wind Tunnel was there to chronicle it for SPEED.
Here is what Montoya told Despain:
Despain: I spoke with Juan Pablo Montoya after his press conference, and before he headed back to Europe. I wanted to start with the issue of the contract with new employer Chip Ganassi. How long is the contract?
Montoya: It's multi year.
Despain: I would assume its multi year because it's going to take some time for you to get a handle on it. Where I'm going with it is, what are your goals?
Montoya: Here is what I told Chip (Ganassi). We needed to commit because I was going to swap from Formula One to NASCAR, and I know I'm not going to perform in my first year. Now, yes, I will have some success in two or three races or so, but generally, it's going to be a tough season. We're all going to be learning and there's going to be mistakes made by me. I know that's going to be part of it. That's why it's a multi-year deal.
Despain: One, two, three races you said in the first year. Meaning what? One, two or three races you could win? Run out front or what?
Montoya: Well, I'm sure when we go to the road courses we should do pretty well, or at least I hope so. I think I have more road course experience than any other driver here (in NASCAR). And I think going to a road course race, people will expect me to do well. We'll see. At the same time, this is a different deal and different ballpark and it's a different car -- even though it's going left and right.
Despain: You have had experience driving a stock car in Tradin' Paint on SPEED. What do you think will be the most difficult thing to learn in order for you to be successful in these heavy, under-tired cars?
Montoya: I will need to learn the limits of the car...learning to time your self and slow your self down. I'm used to cars with a lot of grip and a lot of tire and you have your foot to the ground. In these cars (Nextel Cup), I think timing is very important and it's a lot about the tires and being able to hook up with the tires. In a way, I think (NASCAR) racing is very technical. It's very competitive. One week you can be running in the top 10, the next week your 30th and you don't even know why. NASCAR by itself is such a big challenge. It makes it exciting.
Despain: It caught my attention this morning when you said, 'In Formula One, when you touch wheels, you're an animal.'
Montoya: Ask anybody. Every time I race with anybody -- and I don't want to downplay Formula One at all because it's a great sport as well -- but the close racing is so good (in NASCAR) that it really caught my attention.
Despain: Do you watch it on TV? You know in NASCAR, if you don't bump wheels you're going to get left behind. What appeals to you most when you watch this form of racing? What are you eager to do?
Montoya: I think it's just the close racing. And, generally just how clean all the drivers are and how much they respect each other. You can be driving a car at 200 mph, with another car two to three inches off of you all the way around the track. It really got my attention.
Despain: Let me ask you about Indianapolis. When the team feels compelled to put out a press release saying, 'no, the crash didn't have anything to do with Juan's future,' we suspicious reporters immediately think there's something behind that. What is your reaction to what happened at Indy? And what was your team's (McLaren-Mercedes) reaction to what happened?
Montoya: I think what happened at Indy was just a racing incident. We try to run as close as we can to try and make up positions -- and we all just got together. It was just one of those things. If somebody wants to blame me for the incident, then blame me. I don't care -- you know what I mean. I'm out there to race. That didn't have anything to do with my future, to be honest.
Despain: What about Formula One just doesn't fit with your lifestyle?
Montoya: I think Formula One has been great to me. I've had six-straight years there. In looking at the future and how many more years I had there -- and I did have chances to stay in Formula One and everything -- but when looking at my future, I would have a better future in coming here and this challenge. And it's a challenge I can look at for another 10 to 15 years. I love living in the States. I've been living in Europe the last six years, but I still have a place in Miami and a lot of my family lives in Miami. Everything works really well.
The wheels of Montoya's move to NASCAR may have been put into motion on SPEED back in June of 2003 in the network special, Tradin' Paint. The Columbian Formula One star, and then driver for Frank Williams' factory BMW operation, swapped vehicles with Jeff Gordon and his Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet NASCAR Nextel Cup Series entry at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
On Friday night, July 14, SPEED will once again air Tradin' Paint at 10:30 pm ET, immediately following a replay of Nextel Cup Series qualifying from New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon.
SPEED, celebrating its 10th Anniversary in 2006, is the nation's first and foremost cable network dedicated to motor sports and the passion for everything automotive. From racing to restoration, motorcycles to movies, SPEED delivers quality programming from the track to the garage. Now available in more than 71 million homes in North America, SPEED is among the fastest growing sports cable networks in the country and an industry leader in interactive TV, video on demand, mobile initiatives and broadband services.