Daytona 500: Montoya - Media Day visit

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at NASCAR Daytona Media day and discussed contract negotiations, his teammate, aggressiveness on the track and much more.

DO YOU EXPECT TO REMAIN WITH CHIP THIS YEAR? "I hope so. I assume so. I don't know. I haven't really talked too much about it to be honest with you."

YOU GUYS HAVE OBVIOUSLY BEEN TOGETHER FOR A LONG TIME AND YOU'RE HAPPY WITH HIM. DO YOU EVEN THINK ABOUT WHAT IT WOULD BE LIKE TO LOOK FOR ANOTHER RACE TEAM? "I don't know. We talked about it a little bit but we really haven't sat down and get the deal done so we'll have to wait and see."

HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT HOW YOU WANT TO APPROACH THIS YEAR WITH THE NEW POINTS SYSTEM? "No, I think a lot of the lowest finishes were wrecks where people wrecked them and we were just behind them and there was no room anywhere to go. So from that point of view there is nothing you can do. But yeah, consistency is a key. Wins are going to be a key. So I don't know what we've got to do. I mean everybody is in the same ballpark. Everybody needs to finish well and everybody needs to get their job done and that's it."

IS THIS THE YEAR THAT YOU EXPECT EVERYTHING NEEDS TO COME TOGETHER TO ADVANCE YOU TO THE NEXT LEVEL? "I think last year we had a lot of downs and things but I think it was good with the problems with Brian (Pattie, crew chief) and everything and all the arguing I think the difference was good because at the end of the season you can sit down and look at it and say look we've got to make sure we stick together, and make sure we pull together. Because if we don't pull together the whole thing breaks apart so we know what it needs to get done."

ABOUT THE TENSION BETWEEN HIM AND HIS CREW CHIEF LAST YEAR. "It just sucks because by race five we had three DNF's last year. When you have DNF's in five races and you start trying so hard to get out of that hole you just keep making the hole bigger and it's just impossible."


DO YOU EXPECT THAT TO CONTINUE THIS YEAR? "I don't think it was different last year than any other year. I think it's always been like that and always will be like that."

IT SEEMED LIKE FOR A WHILE THERE THEY DIDN'T WANT THAT AND LAST YEAR IT WAS OKAY. "I think publicly but when it happened and when he was out of line he was out of line. I don't think that changed did it?"

NASCAR LET YOU GET AWAY WITH MORE IT SEEMED LIKE. "They would tell you about it but at the end of the day there were no penalties were they?

"I think It's was better that is was more open. In my opinion I don't think it changed that much but I think it was more open for the fans to know that it's okay with having a personality. I think they were very keen to helping build up personalities and they felt like the sport needed that so I felt like it was good."

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE JAMIE'S (MCMURRAY) PERSONALITY? "He's a nice guy. He's a really nice guy. I would say maybe he's a little quiet."

DO YOU GUYS HANG OUT ANYMORE NOW? "No, we get along really well. We really don't hang out too much but we have a very good working relationship. That's what I would call it. We just don't have much in common to tell you the truth."

HE'S WON THE DAYTONA 500 AND BRICKYARD 400 BUT HE DOESN'T REALLY GO FOR THE SPOTLIGHT, WOULD THAT BE AN ACCURATE DESCRIPTION? "You know, like for me I'm into the windsurfing, the golf, and flying the RC planes, he's into go-karts. I know he's building his own go-kart and has been working a lot on that."

HAVE YOU EVER RACED ANY OF THOSE? "Race him, no. I did 14 years of that. I did world championships and things, but no."

I KNOW YOU DID BUT I WAS JUST WONDERING IF YOU GUYS EVER HOOKED UP? "No, he lives in North Carolina and I live in Miami."

JAMIE WAS TALKING ABOUT THAT THEY DIDN'T FORCE TEAM SET-UPS ON HIM LAST YEAR, DO YOU SENSE ITS DIFFERENT AT EARNHARDT-GANASSI? "I remember in the beginning when they used to put a set-up to start with in my first year and they said Ralph its loose you should be loose. You've got to learn to drive the car and it got to a point half way through the season I said I've got to stop driving like that. So I didn't find a way to be comfortable in the car, we didn't stop performing. Every person looks for something different in the car. Every person drives very different. So I think it's crazy to have the same set up for the whole team. But I don't know."

DO YOU THINK THAT HELPED JAMIE LAST YEAR? "I think if you have a good crew chief and it's not nothing too crazy or stupid, yeah as long as you perform you can do whatever you want I guess."

SOME GUYS SAY IT'S BETTER TO HAVE STANDARDIZATION. "Well if its standardization and it's based on you, you would be happy to have it. But if it's based on somebody else, it's going to suck because you are never going to be comfortable with the car."

ON BEING HAPPY IN NASCAR. "Yeah, I'm really happy here and never will go back (to Formula 1) to tell you the truth. It's very different. Someday I'll go watch and take my kids to watch a Formula 1 race but that's as far as it goes."

WHAT IS YOUR CONTRACT SITUATION, DO YOU HAVE A DECISION TO MAKE AT THE END OF THIS YEAR? "Hopefully before the end of the year (laughs). Yeah, it's up this year and we'll see. I'll have to wait and see what happens."

ARE YOU OPEN TO TALKING WITH OTHER OWNERS? "Right now contractually I can't talk to anybody."

HOW DO YOU MAKE A DECISION LIKE THAT? "We (Chip Ganassi) have a very good relationship and I think if everything comes together and we can come to an arrangement I would assume I would stay here."

HAVE YOU CONSIDERED DOING THE INDY 500? "I don't think so. You know people ask me that and if you think about it I would have a chance of winning it because we are in the best cars, but I've got to beat the guys that do it every week. You know what I mean. Let's say this year I go out here and win the 500 or Jamie (McMurray) wins again and like last year all the ECR cars won all four restrictor plate races, so the chances of winning them are pretty high. And if it was the other way around, I don't think they would come because it's very different. Yes, I've done open wheel but I haven't been in an open wheel car for over five years. And I haven't run Indy in an Open Wheel car for ten years now."

YOU ARE COMMITTED TO STAY HERE? "Oh yeah. I'm not going anywhere. I'm doing Cup for sure next year."

AT THE END OF 2009 YOU SAID THE MAIN THING WAS YOU DIDN'T WANT TO SLIP. "You look at our numbers last year, all our averages are all really good. And I think there are a lot of averages way above people that made the chance but when you have like seven or eight DNF's like we had last year, how many points do you give away there?"

WHAT IS YOUR MINDSET GOING INTO THIS YEAR? "We've got to run when we can run good, and when we can't make sure we bring the car home. I think everybody's mind is we've got to finish the race and score the points."

ITS EASY TO SAY FINISH THE RACE. "There's a lot of situations that you can't control. When everybody wrecks in front of you and you're behind, 90 percent of the time you are going to hit something. I tried in Texas when they all wrecked I decided the only place I wasn't going to hit something and went through the grass and the freaking thing spun around and I t-boned the freaking wall. That sucked!"

IS IT FRUSTRATING TO SEE YOUR TEAMMATE WIN THREE RACES LIKE THAT? "Daytona with the restrictor plate is a lot of luck, I think in Charlotte he had everybody covered and in Indy I had everybody covered. You know history would have been very different. It is what it is. I think Indy we handed it to him to tell you the truth. But its great overall for the team, four wins. I got a win that I think was very important for us. It's funny I still think about why we run so good in Watkins Glen and why we suck so much at the other place. So we'll see."

DO YOU HAVE A DATE WHERE YOU WANT TO HAVE YOUR CONTRACT DONE SO IT STOPS BECOMING A DISTRACTION? "It's not really a distraction right now. If I could talk to people right now and hear people's offers and things and see what available and people would be coming to me, I would say that's a distraction but I can't. The other thing I'm not in Charlotte. And not being in Charlotte I'm not with teams around and people. I'm in Miami. I wake up every morning at 6:30 and take my kids to school. I don't know, it's pretty chill right now."

YOU HAVE A SITUATION WHERE YOU MENTIONED THE ECR ENGINES, YOU GUYS KNOW YOU HAVE SPEED AND POWER, YOU'RE AVERAGE QUALIFYING EFFORT IS WAY BETTERTHAN YOUR AVERAGE FINISHES, BESIDES THE ACCIDENTS AND THE DNF'S, IS THERE STRATEGY THAT YOU'RE LOOKING AT TO GET BETTER? "I think the bigger thing is we've really got to pull together and make sure we are always on the same page. Make sure we never stay behind on changes. I think having the new fueling system is going to be a key factor for us. With the fueling, the fuel is going to take longer than changing the tires. I think everybody will have about the same time pit stops. Like before it was more mandated by the people doing the tire change. If you look at our averages, our pit crew average last year wasn't great. It's funny, I was looking at Dover and I qualified I think third or fourth, and I ran third or fourth all day until we came into the pits and I came out seventh. Then I ran seventh for a while, came in and came out 10th. So I ran 10th for a while, came in 10th and I came out 14th and I finished 14th. We had the pace to run where we were, we didn't have the pace to improve. I think now with the new pit rules, I think the pit pick is going to be more important. I think coming into the box hard is going to be more important. The little details will make a big difference."

IS THE CONTRACT SITUATION CAUSING ANY ADDITIONAL PRESSURE? "No, I think the better you solve it the better. But right now I'm not even thinking about it. Right now I'm thinking about the Shootout and the 500 and what's coming up. We've had talks with Chip (Ganassi) about we want to try to get it out of the way as soon as we can. Like I said when it comes it comes."

A LOT OF GUYS ARE FREE AGENTS THIS YEAR, IS THIS A TOUGHER YEAR TO BE A FREE AGENT? "Who, I don't even know who is a free agent. Those guys, the chance of them going somewhere else are slim to none."


CAN YOU ASSES DANICA'S (PATRICK) FIRST SEASON HERE BECAUSE I KNOW YOU KEPT IN TOUCH WITH HER THROUGHOUT THE YEAR, HOW DO YOU LOOK AT HOW SHE PROGRESSED? "I think when she was in the Nationwide car and stayed there for a while she could perform pretty good. I think jumping from one car to the other hurt her a lot. I think it will be good to see how she runs in the first few weeks."

ON BRIAN VICKERS RETURN TO THE SERIES, AND QUESTIONS OF RACING AGAINST HIM AFTER BEING OUT FOR A WHILE. "I think he's an experienced guy, he's been here for a long time and he understands the cars and everything. It's not like he's been out for four years. There's been guys that have been out for a lot more and then you think about it. But, he's been out for eight months?"

BEFORE THE SEASON JAMIE WAS TELLING ME ABOUT THE DINNER THAT CHIP HAD FOR ALL YOU GUYS, WHAT WAS IT LIKE? "I just went to dinner with Chip and all the guys. I think from outside it might look like oh my God, they won so many freaking races, but from my point of view it's a team dinner. All the guys from the team. Not only drivers, but engineers and things like that, team managers were there. It was fun!"

DID YOU GUYS CELEBRATE THE EXTRAORDINARY YEAR, THE TEAM AS A WHOLE? "We had a great dinner and we had a good laugh and that was it. It was just a nice dinner."

WHAT STORIES DID YOU CONTRIBUTE? "I tell you it was funny because it was like three different groups of conversations. The table was like separated in three different groups. I was talking to Dixon, Chip and somebody else I don't remember."

DARIO? "No, I was on the other side."

NO FUNNY STORY YOU HAD TO OFFER? "No. I don't think I've ever gone to dinner and think about oh that was a funny story we gave at dinner. We just went for dinner and to have a good time!"

AS FAR AS THE CONTRACT GOES YOU ARE SO OF ASSOCIATED WITH CHIP IN ALL THE SERIES THAT YOU RUN, ARE YOU OPEN TO ENTERTAINING OFFERS FROM OTHER PEOPLE? "If Chip comes with what I want and he's happy with what I've done, then no. It's having to wait and see, I guess. I think we'll probably get it done pretty soon, we'll see."

YOUR 6:00 A.M. WAKE-UP CALLS FOR YOUR KIDS, DO YOU FEEL LIKE A SOCCER DAD? "On Tuesday's and Thursday's my little girl has dancing class and Sebastian has soccer so they do that like every Tuesday and Thursday. During the season on Tuesday's I go with them. The Thursday's I'm always flying."

DO YOU DRIVE A MINIVAN? "No, we have a big Escalade that we drive."

DO YOU EXPECT TO SEE MORE WOMEN RACING SOON? "To be honest with you I don't know. I really don't care if it's a guy or a girl."

-source: team chevy

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Chip Ganassi