CHAMPCAR/CART: Dario Franchitti and Juan Montoya Interview

October 26, 1999 AN INTERVIEW WITH: DARIO FRANCHITTI AND JUAN MONTOYA . T.E. McHALE: The featured guests today are the two remaining contenders for the FedEx Championship series championship, Dario Franchitti of team KOOL Green, and ...

October 26, 1999 AN INTERVIEW WITH: DARIO FRANCHITTI AND JUAN MONTOYA . T.E. McHALE: The featured guests today are the two remaining contenders for the FedEx Championship series championship, Dario Franchitti of team KOOL Green, and rookie Juan Montoya of Target Chip Ganassi Racing. They head into this weekends' Marlboro 500 presented by Toyota at California Speedway in the third closest points battle heading into a season finale since the current scoring system was adopted 1983. Juan is on the line with us right now. Dario will join us in a few minutes. At this point we're going to welcome Juan. Thanks for being with us this afternoon and congratulations on a great season so far. JUAN MONTOYA: Hello, everyone. I think it's been, you know, it's a good season. You know, I really like to have you know, a better position to come into the last race, but the way we're coming in, you know, we're just going to try to go for the win. T.E. McHALE: Thanks Juan. Just some background on Juan before we open it up to questions for him. He has virtually rewritten CART's rookie record book during a phenomenal first year. Which is seen in post-series high totals of seven victories at Long Beach, Nazareth, Rio De Janeiro, Cleveland, Mid-Ohio Chicago, and Vancouver, and seven pole positions. He has also led a series-high 929 laps placing him third on CART's single season list, and is only the second driver to have recorded two separate three-race winning streaks in the same season joining Al Unser, Jr. who did so in 1994. Juan enters Sunday's Marlboro 500 presented by Toyota with a nine-point deficit to Dario in the PPG Cup points race. The current race has Dario with 209 points, Juan with 200. It's the third closest margin heading into a season finale since CART adopted its current scoring system in 1983.

Q: Juan, can you talk a little bit about what's been going on the last few weeks, last few races? I mean, everything was terrific through most of the season. You were having mostly great races, and just recently you've had some bad luck and some things happened. Can you talk about how things have changed? JUAN MONTOYA: Well, I don't think things have changed much, you know. We just had a bit of bad luck, we had a bit of bad luck in the middle of the season, and it just came back when it shouldn't have came back. You know, we had a problem in Houston, miscommunication, and I didn't know about , the car was there, and you know, we had an accident. And I think the last race I just made a single mistake, you know.

Q: Juan, you've been, you know, kind of the hunted most of the year, I guess. You've been on top and everybody coming after you. The fact that you're now kind of the hunter again, it's Dario's championship to lose, I guess, does that take a little of the pressure off and make it maybe a little bit easier going into the this last race of the year that you don't have to race to protect their lead, that you can just kind of go all out again? JUAN MONTOYA: Well, I don't know, you know. I think it would be better to be in front, you know, having the nine points position in a 500 hundred mile race. But, you know, that's the way it's coming, and we just have to see what happens. You know, we're going to try of course to win the race and win the championship.

Q: Juan, a couple of things. One, this is a 500-mile race on a big super speedway and anything can happen and anybody can run well. You can't -- in a road race you might be able to work with their teammate a little better if need be, or anybody else. This is kind of a wide open race. You just gotta run with whoever you can run. Run the best that you possible can. And as you say, you're just going there to try to win the race.

Q. So really from their point of view tactics almost don't come into it until the final part. Would you say that's the case, Juan? JUAN MONTOYA: Yeah. You know, I think the plan is just go out and run around for about 450 miles, you know. Try to stay in there and get a good race car for the end of the race, you know.

Q. Absolutely. And Juan, what have you done in the past week? Have you taken some time off? Have you been busy getting back from surface paradise? Can you tell us what you've been up to? JUAN MONTOYA: Just relaxing, you know. I went to Bahamas for the weekend, and that's it.

T.E. McHALE: I'm told now that we are joined by Dario Franchitti who enters the Marlboro 500 presented by Toyota with a nine-point lead over Juan in the PPG Cup points race. Dario, good afternoon, thanks for being with us. How are you? DARIO FRANCHITTI: No problem. How are you? T.E. McHALE: I'm all right. Dario's built his championship lead on the strength of three victories at Toronto, Detroit, and Australia, and a series-high 11 podium finishes. He has scored PPG Cup points in 15 of 7 of the past nine events. Dario, who finished third in last year's FedEx championship series, can quench the title by finishing on the podium this weekend. Incidentally, the 500 presented by Toyota, the 20th and final round of the FedEx Championship Series which pays a millions dollars to the winner, be televised life on ESPN on Sunday, October 31st beginning at 3 p.m eastern time.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about the emotions going into this week? I mean, this really for all intents and purposes is the first championship battle that you've gotten this far in, you know certainly in the big leagues, and same for Juan. What's their mental state like? DARIO FRANCHITTI: I'm looking forward to getting there and going racing, basically. It's -- I been quite lucky. I've been relaxing and stuff getting away from everything. I'm just looking forward to getting there and getting on with it. The 500 mile races are good fun, so it's -- I've always got that in mind and looking forward to it.

Q. If I can follow-up on that just a bit. Actually, for you, Dario and for Juan, if you would talk a little bit about their adjustment to -- you both have made great adjustments to oval racing after being mostly road racers. But 500-mile races present special problems for you, or make it more difficult for you in some way? DARIO FRANCHITTI: Well, I think there's a certain tactic used. And when I was listening to Juan talking a minute ago when I joined, and that's, you know, you gotta sort of hang around for the first 450. Make sure you're in the hunt, and then go for it from there on. And obviously set up is critical, and that he something that we're obviously working hard on all weekend.

Q. Juan, could you talk a little bit about 500-mile races? I mean, you've only basically been in one, I guess. What is their feeling about long races? JUAN MONTOYA: Well, you know what Dario say, you gotta stay in for 450 miles and then just go for it at the end. It's going to be interesting, you know, because it's very easy to win the race and to finish tenth, you know. Normally, top-ten guys are running very close, so anything can happen.

Q: Dario, I'll just ask you the same question I asked Juan. Their roles have kind of reversed here. You've been kind of chasing him all year, and now all of a sudden you're the guy on top with the championship to lose here all of a sudden. Does that add any pressure for you? Obviously, you're going into this with a nine point lead, but are you feeling different pressure being the guy on top now? DARIO FRANCHITTI: No, not at all. I mean, obviously the advantage is helpful. But as we saw at (inaudible) it doesn't really mean anything. It's the same attitude I guess I've used all year to get it there, to do the best job I possibly can, and we'll see what the result is at the end of the day. Q. Thanks, Dario. Good luck to you. DARIO FRANCHITTI: Thanks.

Q. : I'd like to ask Juan if, considering his huge lead at one time, if he loses this thing, is he going to look back on this and say, "God, I blew that first championship in CART"? JUAN MONTOYA: No. You know, I'm pretty relax about it. We won seven races. Nobody else done it this year. We just had bad luck in other races. We gave away I don't know how many points, you know, by single mistakes, you know. Very silly things that, you know, I'm -- as a part of the team we've done it. Everyone has made mistakes and we've had to pay for it. So that's the way it goes.

Q. Dario, at mid season did you view yourself as being able to climb back into this race, or did you think that, you know, it was sort of over when Juan opened up that big lead? DARIO FRANCHITTI: What was the biggest point -- what was the farthest away Juan was lead-wise?

Q. I cannot remember the exact. I know it was --? DARIO FRANCHITTI: T.E., can you remember that?

T.E. McHALE: Let me check that real quickly, Dario. DARIO FRANCHITTI: Because I don't think that it was that -- I think 20 points got into Houston, which was pretty big.

T.E. McHALE: That's about as big as it looked, right. Q. Okay. So that's only one race.

DARIO FRANCHITTI: It's only one -- I guess a couple of races. But I mean, I never thought we were out of it. And I thought, you know, obviously mid season I was thinking Juan was doing a terrific job. I just thought I'm going to have to keep working here. There's only one way we're going to get back into this thing, and that's to keep working and get good results. And that's what we've been doing from basically the start. I guess the trick is you know, never give up, and we're not going to do that until Sunday night next week.

Q. I had sort of probably followed up on a couple of the others. Juan, I wonder if you could talk about just how you've managed to adapt so well to ovals, and if you have any sense that it would have been better for you if you were finishing on a road course? JUAN MONTOYA: Well, I don't know. I think the ovals has been good. You know, I like them. I enjoy them. It hasn't been difficult for me. I feel very comfortable driving them. It's funny, because I think we have more points in the ovals than in the road courses or something like that. But, you know, it's been pretty silly mistakes we've done. You know, we've gave away point to Dario very silly. I think Dario has done a great job as well. But, you know, that's racing, you know, and we'll see what happens in time. You know, I'm not going to give up either, and we'll see what happens.

Q. Thank you, Juan. And Dario, I wonder if you could -- would you feel more a little more comfortable? Obviously it's not a question of having a choice, but do you feel more comfortable going into it on an oval or do you feel it's more of a crap shoot? DARIO FRANCHITTI: You know, well, the 500-mile races are always interesting, because, you know, with the Hanford Wing could sort of be losing it going into the last lap and finish, and nobody know's where. So, yeah, you gotta work with the playing field you're given. And as I said, I'm looking forward to the 500-mile race. It's not going to be easy. Yeah, I think it's an exciting and fitting end to what's been is a pretty exciting season.

Q. Very exciting. If I may follow-up real quickly. Is it a lot easier for an oval guy -- I think I probably know the answer to this -- for a guy who's familiar with road courses to adapt to an oval, or vice versa? DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think road course drivers probably, you know, getting used to an oval is probably a little bit easier.

Q. Any reason for that? Just the fact -- obviously you're only turning left four times, but it's a different type of racing, and I was just curious about just the high speeds and that type of thing also. DARIO FRANCHITTI: I don't think that really bothers -- the speed is not really a problem. I think when you learn to drive on a road course, you learn to deal with a lot more factors, you know, braking, down shifting, all that kind of stuff. Each corner is different, so when you come to an oval, you just gotta learn the small, you know, the intricacies of the art of driving ovals, I guess.

Q. Thank you, Dario. And good luck to both you guys. DARIO FRANCHITTI: Thank you.

Q. : Well, the question for both them, just following up on the, you know, the 500 miles being such a crap shoot because of all the things that can happen mechanically and so on. Is that more of a factor on an oval and a 500 mile than it would be on a road course? Either one that wants to address it. JUAN MONTOYA: You want to go ahead? DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah. I mean, yeah, I think the distance of the race makes it that much more, you know, there's that many more things that can go wrong because 500 mile race. The just think the cars are pushed to their absolute limit to run as fast as they do for that length of time. So that's probably the only -- probably the biggest difference. JUAN MONTOYA: I think the same a Dario, you know. 500 miles, anything can happen, you know. You know, the stress on the engines and everything is just to the limit. You know, you gotta take care of the equipment to get to the end.

Q. And one follow-up. Again, knowing there's a factor that, you know, you could being breezing along at 400 miles and all of a sudden the engine gets tired or something, does that change the way you race at all? JUAN MONTOYA: Not really, you know. You gotta get to the end of the races and you gotta take care of the equipment. But, you know, you gotta race as well. You know, you gotta stay up front. I need to get many points, so I'm going to go for it.

Q.: I have a question for Dario. We know that Juan is going to go to the front and probably try to win the race. Dario, what's going to be their strategy here at Fontana? Are you going to try to keep him within sight, or just what do you plan on doing? DARIO FRANCHITTI: As I said before, I'm going to get out there and do the best job I possibly can. I want to be right up in front. Obviously, my position is slightly different from Juan's in the fact that I don't need to go out and win the race. I just sort of need to be within a place or two, I guess. But I would like to get out there and try to win this thing. So I'm going to be out there pushing. Obviously, the number one priority is the championship, but you just gotta go and treat every race the same, you know treat every race the same as we have for the whole year.

Q. And my question for Juan is, Juan, their pit crew's in the pit crew title on Thursday. What can you say about their pit crew, you know, going into that thing on Thursday for 50,000 bucks? JUAN MONTOYA: I think it's going to be very interesting, you know. I think we got one of the fastest pit stops, if not the fastest one around, and I would love to see my guys winning that money.

Q. Juan, I'd like to ask you if you come up short on Sunday whether all the records that you've achieved this year will mean nothing to you or whether you'll still take pride in them? JUAN MONTOYA: I will. I mean, I think nobody done what I've done this year. You know, it's surprising having won seven races and everything we've done and we haven't win the championship. I think we gave away points to Dario, too many points to Dario too easy. And, you know, couple of races we should have won it, and mistake not coming into the pits and things like that. But I think, you know, we'll see what happens. I'm just going to try to take it as cool as I can, you know, get there and see what happens.

Q. Uh-huh. All the best anyway. Dario, I'd like to ask you what their most satisfying performance this season has been? DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think either Australia or Toronto are the two that we'd look at, and, you know, hopefully on Sunday we'll have another one that will rank up there besides those two. But right now I've got to look at those two and say, yeah, those were the highlights so far.

Q. Why in particular though? I mean, obviously you won, but what especially? DARIO FRANCHITTI: Toronto, I guess is the fact that, you know, we won in such a controlled manner. And Australia pretty much the same. I think the pole position in Australia really gave me a great deal of satisfaction.

Q. Right. DARIO FRANCHITTI: To be, I guess whatever point lead I had or whatever. I mean that really, you know, I was really happy with that one.

Q. Well, all the best for Sunday. Thanks.

Q. How large a factor does momentum play in this final race now? Juan, do you feel at all that with their current troubles their last couple of races, do you feel through their crew that maybe you've lost the big "mo"? And Dario, conversely, do you feel among all their people on their team that you've picked up the momentum to get you over the top? JUAN MONTOYA: I don't think we lost any momentum. You know, we just make mistakes and we have to pay for them. I think my team is fighting as hard as we've been fighting all year. And I don't think they want to give away anything, you know. We're going to go for the win and do the best we can. DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think really the momentum think, if you look at the way the season's gone, sort of ebbs and flows, you can see that, yeah, it's certainly played a part. And think you can really, really tell that Sunday night how much of an affect that it's had.

Q. But did you detect -- how does the momentum, say, Dario on their team, feel now than what it was like two races ago? DARIO FRANCHITTI: Well, we -- after the race in Laguna obviously things were looking pretty bad. I haven't finished the last two races. So I think there's a difference. Obviously we're a bit happier with second and a first place finish, and we've taken back the championship lead. So obviously the team's really buzzing at the moment, and we're very confident on both sides, the team as well as myself. You know, I think that is a factor, yeah, we're on top of things.

Q. I'm just trying to put into perspective here. You're on the brink perhaps of winning a major championship and a million dollars there. Did you ever dream of anything like this when you were driving carts around (inaudible.) DARIO FRANCHITTI: I certainly hoped it was going to happen. It's kind of the things you dream with about. You dream about winning Champ car title and Formula 1 championships. These are the things you dream about, but you never actually think they'll happen, so it would obviously be a terrific thing if it did happen.

Q. Yeah. And will you look back on these days and consider what you're you've learned from just battling among tons of other hopefuls? DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah. I think every race you go into you use the experience you've learned throughout their whole career.

Q. Yeah. DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think every lap you drive you learn something, and I think opportunities like this season, you have to use all the experience you've gained. Q. Yeah. Well, I hope it goes well for you.

DARIO FRANCHITTI: Thank you very much.

Q. For both guys, you touched upon the race. I mean, it's going to boil down to conserving the equipment, lasting the last 50 miles. But thanks to the Hanford wing, things are going to be very tight. I mean, you could gain or lose five says on every lap. Do you find it ironic that after 19 races that it might all boil down to who's minding the wing the best? DARIO FRANCHITTI: That's life, isn't it, I guess? You gotta -- you know as I said before, you've gotta work with the playing field you're given. We've both done it before. There's not really too much to say. You can't really complain about it, or think of it as a bad thing or wish it was on a road course. You just gotta get on with it. And as I said before, I'm looking forward to the 500-mile race. JUAN MONTOYA: I don't know, you know, anything can happen. And, you know, I would love to see myself winning the championship, but if it doesn't happen, you know everything has a reason, you know.

Q. Uh-huh. A real quick follow-up. This has been their longest season. How are you holding up? What are you doing to make it stay fresh? JUAN MONTOYA: Nothing. You know, it's all right. It's another race. Another day in the office. You know, it will be an interesting race for me, so we'll see.

Q. Okay. Good luck both of you guys. DARIO FRANCHITTI: Thanks. JUAN MONTOYA: Thanks, man.

Q. Dario, would you mind contrasting Fontana with Michigan? They're pretty similar tracks. DARIO FRANCHITTI: They are pretty similar. I would say Fontana has a slightly different angle on the track and that's the biggest difference I would say, otherwise it's pretty similar. That's about as much as -- you know, I think the lap times are a little quicker at Fontana, but that's about it.

Q. Goodyear announced today that they are going to pull out of both CART and IRL. I wondered if both drivers could comment on that. DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah, I'm a little bit surprised about that. I mean, first of all they pull out of Formula 1, and then they pull out of, you know, Champ car, and also I guess the IRL. They have been getting -- for sometime they've had a particularly difficult time with competing against Firestone, particularly in Champ car. They haven't managed to -- they won one race this year with (inaudible.) It just surprises me, and I think it puts a tremendous amount of pressure on Firestone. And it's a shame there's not going to be any competition for them to show how good their product is, because they've obviously been the dominant force for the last four years or so. I was a bit surprised.

Q. Juan, would you mind commenting on that? JUAN MONTOYA: No, you know, really, it's a bit surprising. It's a shame, you know, because that's another fight they had going on. It's more things going on. Another challenge. Something else you want to try, you know, to have for the people, you know. So it could be an advantage or it could be disadvantage. But it would make it more interesting. It's a shame they pull out. Q. Okay. Thank you.

Q. I'd like both of the drivers to talk a little about the first 100 miles of the race, something that people never talk about. It's always the last 50 miles, but when you look at the early part of the race, I remember Juan and Michael Andretti dueling at Michigan, what kind thoughts do you have in terms of the approach and how much importance is placed on the point for leading the most laps? When does that become an issue. JUAN MONTOYA: For me it's an issue. You know, that point could make the difference at the end of the race, you know.

Q. Yeah. JUAN MONTOYA: So, we'll see. You know, we need to get to the end. The biggest points are at the end, so we need to get OT the end. But if the car a quick enough to run up front, we're going to try run up front.

Q. Juan, can you talk a bit about what it was like with Michael at Michigan? I mean, you've been talking about holding back like everybody else, and then you put on quite a show. JUAN MONTOYA: Well, you know, that's the way it comes. You have to chance to pass someone, you're going to pass him. I don't think it's a big deal.

Q. Okay, thanks. Dario? DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah. I mean, obviously the first part in Michigan the race was pretty entertaining with Juan and Michael, you know, Michael and myself, Paul and Michael. We were mixing it up pretty well. But I don't think any of us were really try that hard to get away. Like Juan said, if you've got the opportunity to pass and you've got like a ten-mile-an-hour tour on somebody, you're going to go by them. But, you know, without trying too hard, we were putting on a pretty good show. Obviously, the point could make a difference in the most laps.

Q. Does that help you, Dario, in terms of improving the car as the race goes on, that you have -- you know, with all that passing back and forth are you learning things? DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah. For sure you're gonna -- you can run in traffic and everything and you can see what it's all about. Generally, by the end of the race there's a lot less cars on the track. You gotta sort of factor that in as well. But through the whole race, you just improving the car and you're trying to get it better.

Q. By the way, I'm a big fan of the (inaudible.) My question is for Dario. Last year you very much just wanted to get up on the board, start winning races, and I guess in a sense establish yourself within the CART ranks. This year I'm thinking back to Homestead, and at the Homestead race, it seemed like you had a pretty conservative approach to the race. You could have gone, you know, and made a gamble on fuel and potentially won the race, but instead wind up on the podium. And I'd like to you comment about what their feeling were at the middle part of the season when you fell behind and then now as you look back on it. You know, has that indeed been a conscious, deliberate strategy to focus more on the championship and at mid point within the course of the season, what was their reaction, what was their thought process, particularly had I made a mistake? DARIO FRANCHITTI: That's quite a question. I think obviously at the start season we were just being conservative getting some points on the board. By the mid point, obviously the momentum, Juan's momentum had really picked up and I was obviously surprised at how consistent, what a good job he was doing simply because of the fact that it was his first year racing. I've known him for a good number of years, and obviously I know he's very, very fast. But just the good job he was going doing consistently. So at that point, you know, we were just trying to get things figured out with our car and get the car improved a little bit. And we stopped, I guess through the middle point we stopped being quite as conservative. But we still -- in the races we're still going for finishes and I'm focusing on the championship. I think, you know, in that middle point in the season we just kept working, just kept our heads down. And I think the only mistake we've really made, and certainly the mistake I've made was in Vancouver. I was very disappointed with that.

Q. One other question, and I know that you probably haven't had a chance to really talk to Paul from, you know, about the Fontana race, and it's less capable in terms of team tactics and things like that. But do you anticipate having a conversation with Paul about, you know, how you guys are going to finish or how you're going to approach the race as a team? DARIO FRANCHITTI: No, I don't think -- Fontana's wide open. If somebody wants to pass you, they'll pass you. And I think if anyway Paul can help I'm sure he will. I'm sure Jimmy is going to help Juan in any way he can. But as far as that's concerned, I don't think that's something you can think about in advance too much. Q. Well, thanks very much. Good luck to both you.

Q. On the CART web site, -- and this is a question for both of our drivers -- this thing is being titled as almost a prize fight with Dario "Great Scott" Franchitti and Juan Montoya. Do you guys feel as though this is a heads up prize fight, winner take all kind of thing? JUAN MONTOYA: No, I don't. You know, I think it's been a very long season, and Dario and myself we had up and downs, and, you know, that's just going to be the, you know, the final thing we want to win is the championship. But you know, I think all the job we done through the year has been very important. DARIO FRANCHITTI: I mean, I think the championship is the big prize. Obviously, I'll be disappointed if I don't win it. But as Juan says, through the year we have both done very good jobs, so I don't think you can be too disappointed. Although I'm sure one of us will be. So I don't think -- it's certainly not a winner takes all, you know, but in a way it is, I guess.

Q. Dario, had you and I been talking priority first to the race of the season and I said to you would win seven times, you would win seven poles, yet go into the last race nine points down, what would their response have been? DARIO FRANCHITTI: Who was that for? Sorry.

Q. That was for Juan. JUAN MONTOYA: For me. I don't know, you know, it's a bit disappointing, because we should have won the championship, you know. But mistake after mistake after mistake, he hasn't let us to the job, you know. It's a shame, but, you know, that's the way it came and we have to stick with it.

Q. And a final question if I may for Dario. Dario, at the beginning of the season you and I talked about earning the championship, and we talked about at mid season. And at mid season when I asked you if you felt like a championship contender to continue with that theme, you said to me, "If I come to Fontana with a points lead, then I may feel as though I've earned the right to be a champion." How do you feel? You've done what you said you wanted to do? DARIO FRANCHITTI: Yeah. I think I'm not in a position, you know, where -- I mean obviously, it comes down to either Juan or myself, and, you know, I think I'm only going to -- the result or the proof of the pudding is in the fact that if I win the championship, and that's when it'll be deserved. If not, then obviously it wasn't.

Q. Good luck to both of you gentlemen. Thank you? DARIO FRANCHITTI: Thank you. DARIO FRANCHITTI: I have a question for Juan. Is he in an airport? T.E. McHALE: Did you hear that, Juan? JUAN MONTOYA: Yeah. T.E. McHALE: Dario wants to know if you're in an airport. JUAN MONTOYA: No, I'm not. I will in couple minutes. I haven't seen an airport yet. DARIO FRANCHITTI: I can hear also something going in the background. JUAN MONTOYA: No, no. That's the tires squealing. I'm driving.

Q. A question is for both. You know, I think that when both competitors start out maybe in club racing they may think who cares who wins, let's help each other out. It's sportsmanship. And they may even do that as an active process. But with the PPG Cup and the FedEx championship series title on the line, has that gone away? Does each of you view the other as a fierce competitor, or are the two of you drawing upon one another for co-competitors for anything, either consciously or just in light of the situation that you're both in? DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think when you start racing, no matter how small the race, you always want to win. And I think on the track, for me certainly it's always been about winning. Away from the track it's a different deal. I get on very, very well with Juan. We have some fun. It's about the race on the track, it's not about away from the fact. I enjoy the fact that I'm competing against him, and I enjoy the fact that he's a fierce competitor. That makes it all the more fun, I guess.

Q. Juan? JUAN MONTOYA: Yeah. I think the same. You know, we got a good relationship, but on the track he wants to win and I want to win. Each one of us wants to do the best job, you know. I'm not going to bend my race and he's not going bend his. I don't know. It's a lot of fun racing against Dario, and know him since a few years ago. It's a shame these cars have a bit of body work, but that's the way it goes.

Q. I have a question for each of you. Juan, I want to know how you felt at the end or after you were out of the Australia race and you went to their pits and none of the bosses were there, they just kind of left? JUAN MONTOYA: No, you know, I knew they were not going to be there because there was nothing to do there. I knew Jimmy was out already, as well, so that's the way it comes. I felt a bit dumb. I knew I made a mistake and I had to pay for it. Simple as that.

Q. And Dario, how important is Paul in terms of data at Fontana during practice and qualifying in terms of going for the championship? Is Paul really an important part of this? DARIO FRANCHITTI: Oh, yeah. Their teammate in particular there's a good relationship I have with Paul. He's really an integral part of our whole team. Our information we both gather during the practices we both use basically. We're working basically getting information off two cars rather than one. We're on fairly similar set ups, so we can really work with each other that on that and it certainly helps the development process.

Q. And getting back to momentum for a second. You've talked a lot about momentum, or at least some of us reporters have. Would you rather have had Fontana occur the following weekend from Australia just because, if you will, you've got competitor on the ropes, or is this break actually better? DARIO FRANCHITTI: I'm quite happy with it this way. We get a weekend off. You know, you can't do that. You can't think that way. The race is happening when it's happening, and I'm quite happy about it. Q. All right. Good luck to both of you. DARIO FRANCHITTI: Thanks a lot.

Q. Both drivers, what would this championship mean if you won it? Is it a great accomplishment in and off itself, or do you guys kind of look at it perhaps as a stepping stones for another series, perhaps Formula 1? Just their general thoughts on it, both drivers, please. JUAN MONTOYA: I don't know, it would be nice to win it. You know, you always race to try to win races and win the championship. It's my first year in CART. It would be nice to win in the first year, but if I don't win in the first year we'll try to win in the second one. There's a lot of things going on still, and it's wide open for either Dario or myself.

Q. Dario, please. DARIO FRANCHITTI: I think obviously the championship means that you've done the best job of the year, really, consistently for the whole season. And it's the focus at the start the season and it has been for our team to win that, and obviously it would be a great achievement. I think we've done a good job so far, and we're just going to keep pushing for this one more race.

Q. Thanks guys. Best of luck? DARIO FRANCHITTI: Thank you.

Q. This is for both of the boys. I'm inquiring after their long-term plans, next year and beyond. DARIO FRANCHITTI: Well, I think the first plan after the race is Juan and myself are going to go out and have a small party, because we agreed some time ago whatever the results, win or lose, we are going to have a small party after the race. JUAN MONTOYA: Little one, by the way.

Q. And long-term? DARIO FRANCHITTI: Who knows. I mean, I have a contract next year with team KOOL green. And after that, anything is possible.

Q. And Juan? JUAN MONTOYA: I don't know, you know. I gotta deal with Chip next year as well. You know, you never know what happens. Q. Thank you.

T.E. McHALE: And with that we will wrap it up for today. We want to that thank both Juan Montoya and Dario Franchitti for joining us this afternoon.


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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Dario Franchitti , Chip Ganassi , Al Unser
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing