Atlanta: Montoya post-race interview

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge Charger) - Top rookie COMMENT ON RIGHT FRONT TIRE WEAR "As we went to the top lane it just got tighter and tighter. We tried to free up the car and we freed it up so much that I couldn't run on...

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge Charger) - Top rookie

COMMENT ON RIGHT FRONT TIRE WEAR

"As we went to the top lane it just got tighter and tighter. We tried to free up the car and we freed it up so much that I couldn't run on the bottom because it was way too loose. The top was too tight, so it was a tough compromise. The top was tight and I'd just put wheel in it and go with it. I'd lift a little bit on entry and the first few laps I'd try not to go too hard. When the front tires go. You can't sit down and wait around. You need to go as well."

HOW CONFIDENT ARE YOU THAT A WIN ISN'T TOO FAR AWAY?

"I think this was a good weekend. I think the next ones are going to be pretty hard. We've got Bristol, that's going to be a nightmare. Martinsville will probably be another tough one. Darlington, let's not even talk about that one. I'm getting comfortable with this one. I need to work on the other ones. We're going to have up and downs, but when the car's good and I'm comfortable we're going to get momentum. I think the second half of the season when we start going to tracks I've been to and we run the setups and a little bit of what I need to run, that's definitely going to help."

IS RUNNING AT THE TOP YOUR STYLE?

"It's funny because at Homestead last year everybody was running the top and I was running the bottom like open wheel. I wouldn't go up there, no way. As the race went on at Homestead I got more comfortable at the top. It's really hard, one of the hardest things I've found in the Ganassi cars, and I haven't driven anybody else's, is to get back on the gas. When I run the bottom I think I use a little more wheel. When you've got a lot of wheel and get on the gas it gets really loose, so when you run the top you've got a little less wheel. It's probably that, I don't know."

HOW DOES THIS RUN TODAY STACK UP TO MEXICO WIN?

"Like I said yesterday, the top 10 I had in the Busch was huge. Man, I was nearly more excited than when I won in Mexico. Mexico is one of those places where you go and expect to be good. That's probably one of the places where if you don't do well you're actually disappointed. Here, I wasn't really expecting to be that far ahead, so it's good."

HOW WELL ARE YOU STARTING TO FIGURE OUT THE OVALS?

"We're getting the hang of it. The high line I'm really comfortable. We need to get better on the bottom."

COMMENT ON FINISHING FIFTH TODAY

"I thought it was really good. We had a fast car all day. It was a little tight. We tried to free it up. It was a little bit too loose getting in and a little too loose getting under power. We tried to work on it a little bit. We had a good car all day. The last restart I thought I had Jimmie on the outside. I had a great run. I just ran out of room. It's one of those things. You're wide open hoping you're going to make it and just run out of room. We damaged the fender and Jeff (Burton) passed me, but it's good. The best result before this was like 19th, so I think we're going in the right direction. I tell you I love this track. You can really race. I was really comfortable when the car was moving. That's a big thing for me. The way the car was stepping up before with the harder tires was unpredictable and I wasn't that comfortable with it. Here, you use good wheel and you keep going with it."

WHAT WAS GORDON TRYING TO PROVE?

"I don't know. I thought we were catching up to Matt a little bit. Jeff caught me and started running behind me and getting me very loose in. I started losing the whole momentum, and he was starting to run beside me at the straight and going in with me. I don't know why he was doing that. I don't know if he was racing with the 5 to get the lucky dog, but that kind of screwed us up a little bit. I guess he was just trying to do his own race as well."

-credit: dodge motorsports

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Series NASCAR Cup