Daytona 500: Montoya - Media Day visit

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET IMPALA, met with members of the media at Daytona Media day and discussed Danica Patrick and the transition from open wheel to stock car, the new rules, self-policing, bump-drafting, and more. ON TWITTER YOU SAID...

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET IMPALA, met with members of the media at Daytona Media day and discussed Danica Patrick and the transition from open wheel to stock car, the new rules, self-policing, bump-drafting, and more.

ON TWITTER YOU SAID YOU ENJOY THE RACING MORE THAN YOU ENJOY THIS PART, CORRECT? "Yes. Why are we here? It is the race cars. It is ok. It is just a long day. I really don't mind doing it, but if you think about it, I have this from eight o'clock in the morning to four o'clock in the afternoon then I get to drive the race car. Would you rather be here from about 4:00 p.m. and then drive the car from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and go home. Or would you rather be here at eight o'clock in the morning and finish at seven and spend eight hours with media? (Smiles) I don't have anything against you guys, but come on. (Laughs).

"I am excited for the season to start to be honest with you. It feels weird not driving the car. I did the Rolex 24-Hour. I tested the week of the 24 (Hour) with the Cup car. It was nice to be back in the Cup car."

IN YOUR MIND, IS THE SEASON TOO LONG? "No, it is long, but I would rather be doing races like we do here than what I was used to. Half of it was racing and there were more miles on testing than on racing. That is what is crazy in Formula 1 for what, 17 times? And you do twice the mileage testing plus the simulator.

"This is just go out there and it is the real thing every week. Since Miami, I haven't driven the car until last week. We tested at Disney. I did a lot of go karting during the off season to make sure I was in shape for the 24-Hour. I drove the 24-Hour so when I went back to the Cup car, I was thinking 'This is going to feel really weird again.' But it didn't and that was nice."

DOES WINNING EVER GET ROUTINE? "No, we have got to start doing more of that here. No, it is fine. That is what we are here for. It is not so much about the trophy or anything. It is more about just whipping everybody's ass to be honest."

WHAT ARE THE TOUGHEST THING ABOUT MAKING THE TRANSITION FROM OPEN WHEEL TO STOCK CAR GIVEN WHAT A STORY DANICA PATRICK IS THIS YEAR? "Probably in her shoes and like mine where I came from, it is, I think more people want you to fail than to do good. Not because they are bad people, but you will be better news if you fail than if you did well. That is always hard.

"But at the same time, there are always people who want you to do well. And it is a struggle because you are not going to do well to start with. I'm sure Danica here will be fine in the ARCA car and even in the Nationwide race because you run wide open and if they have a good set-up in the car, she will be fine. It is going to be interesting to see when we start getting to other tracks how she will run.

"I was lucky when I came here, I had a couple of races the year before in Nationwide and stuff, so I kind of got to build up to it."

DO YOU THINK THE THOUGHTS OF PEOPLE ABOUT HER FAILING WILL BE MORE INTENSE DUE TO THE FACT SHE IS A WOMAN? "I don't know. She is such big news right now. Everybody is sitting back and waiting to see what happens. It is exciting to see how she is going to do. I haven't really talked to her, but like everything, I think if she needs some help, she can just come over and ask the questions. I am sure she probably talked to Dario (Franchitti) already. I think she will be fine. To start with, she is going to struggle, but if they are patient enough with her, I think she will be fine. It is going to be hard until it clicks. Once it clicks and you understand what you have to do to go fast, then you go "AHHH."

WAS IT HARD FOR YOU? "Oh yea. I mean, the feeling is so different. The feedback you get from the car is so different from what I was used to, that was really really hard. Because in an open wheel car, at least when I drove Indy Cars, that thing starts stepping out and you are going to hit the fence. Here, the thing starts stepping out and you still aren't loose enough. You know what I mean? Especially for her, to go back and forth, I think it is going to be harder not being committed to one thing 100%, but..."

DOES IT TAKE VERY LONG TO BLOW THE COBWEBS OF THE OFF SEASON OFF? "I'll be honest with you, at the test I thought it would and it took me like five laps."

ARE YOU GLAD YOU MADE THE CHANGE TO NASCAR? "I will tell you what, personally and professionally, I am really really happy. It's been a lot of fun. It has been exciting because it has been such a challenge. Personally it has been an incredible challenge."

HOW DO YOU LOOK IN THE MIRROR AND CONTINUE TO CHALLENGE YOURSELF? "I think if you do that, you haven't done enough before. I just get in the car and drive the wheels off it and see where you are. I think if you look in the mirror and say 'Ah, I didn't try hard enough, ooh', you've got some issues. I don't know anybody that has to do that. If you have to do that, you are probably not in the top level of racing anywhere."

IS IT IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO GET A WIN EARLY IN THE SEASON? "No, not really. Our goal is the same thing. Let's race smart, let's get points and get in to the Chase and see what happens. I think last year we had some shots at winning. It is hard because how good are our cars going to be? That is anybody's guess. We are going to get the spoiler so things are going to change a little. Somebody is going to figure out something that you haven't. And when they do, they are going to go out there and they are going to dominate for a while until everybody picks it up. So we'll see."

HOW IMPRESSIVE IS IT WHAT JIMMIE JOHNSON HAS DONE? "What is always impressive is, you look at the performance through the year and it is average, it is good. They win races and stuff but they don't dominate. And for some reason, they get in to the Chase and it just clicks. It is just hard to beat when the guy wins every frickin' week. But it is what it takes. He has set the bar really high and if you want to beat him, you know what you have to do."

THERE ARE A LOT OF RULE CHANGES WITH THE SPOILER AND NASCAR SAYING 'HAVE AT IT BOYS THING'... "I have a question. They go 'have at it kids' but what is different? Did it change anything in Miami? (LAUGHS).

...IS THAT WEIRD? "I think it exciting. They (NASCAR) care about the racing and they are not afraid of making changes. Do they always get it right? No, BUT, at least they admit when they don't get it right and they will change it and make it better. I have been in other series where they make a huge screw-up and the racing is terrible and they leave it, because 'oh, we thought we made the right decision and we can't go back because it wouldn't look professional."

IT HAS BEEN SAID IT MIGHT BE MORE DANGEROUS FOR DANICA IN THE ARCA RACE THAN IN NATIONWIDE RACE JUST DUE TO THE LESSER EXPERIENCE OF THE DRIVERS, DO YOU AGREE WITH THAT? "Depends on how far behind or forward you run. If her car is fast enough, being it a Hendrick car, or whatever you want to call it, a JR Motorsports car, it should run up front, I would assume. So if she can stay in line and run up front. I think if she stays in line, she is going to run top-five easily without trying to win."

WHEN YOU RAN THE ARCA RACE AT TALLADEGA, DID YOU GET OUT OF THE CAR AND GO WOW, THIS IS SO MUCH DIFFERENT? WOULD YOU HAVE GONE FROM THE ARCA RACE ONE WEEKEND TO THE NATIONWIDE RACE THE NEXT WEEKEND? "I would have done it. It was a blast. It was a blast. The more she talks to people, I don't know how they do it in Indy Cars, when I was there, we didn't used to talk to people and ask people questions. People will help you here. I think if she is not afraid of asking people, just go and knock on their doors and say 'Hey, can you help me.' For me, one of the people who helped me the most at the beginning was Kevin Harvick. I remember I was testing in Miami, it was like the second time I was in a Cup car, he comes and says to me 'Look, you got to drive it harder. You have got to do this, you have to do that....'. I'm like WOW. In Formula One if someone did something wrong, you would get out of the car and laugh about it with the people around you. You know, it is true, it was. To have somebody helping you, it is incredible because at the end of the day, it is a competitor. But when people like that come and help, it is great!

"In the situation she is in, she could go to Jimmie (Johnson). She could go to Mark (Martin), she could go to anybody and they could help her. If she wants to talk to me, I can talk to her. I don't care. Understanding these cars, how forgiving, where they forgive, where they don't, I think that is very important."

GIVEN HER SIZE, IS THAT A PROBLEM? THE SIZE OF THE CAR? THE HEAT? "The heat is the only thing that is different. The weight of the car, you don't feel it. What you feel is that it rolls, it moves around a lot. It is normal, the car hasn't done anything yet. The heat is the bad."

WHAT IS THE HYPE GOING TO BE LIKE FOR HER? "She is American, she is a woman, she is American, she attracts a lot of people. It is going to be a lot. If she does well, good for the sport, if she does bad, still good for the sport I would think, wouldn't you? For the sport it is great. If she is conscious of how are this is going to be at the beginning and she is willing to go all the way, she will be fine."

IN YOUR MIND, IS SHE PRETTY COMPETITIVE? "I don't know her, but I would assume so. Sometimes when you watch the Indy Car race and you hear her screaming on the radio, you would assume so. And kicking and pushing guys. Wouldn't you?

DO YOU KNOW SERGIO PENA? "I know the father. The kid I met when he was really little. He ran really well. He should have won that race. We were out of the 24-Hour when the race was on Speed so we watched the end of the race. He needs to work on the restarts a little more. It is funny, when I did Barber Saab in 1994, his father used to live in Virginia and when I did a lot of the races up here, he had like a mini-van and he loaned us the mini-van to drive around, he helped us a lot at the beginning. His (Sergio) dad's brother used to work in go-karts when I raced them back home. I know his family pretty well. It is great for him to run this well. I was very impressed to tell you the truth. I knew he wanted to come the NASCAR way. It is always a challenge but the way he ran, it was cool to see."

WITH THE NEW HAVE AT IT BOYS ATTITUDE, DO YOU EXPECT TO GET PENALIZED AT ALL NOW? "There is always a line. I think there is always a line. What they (NASCAR) did with the restrictor plates made is better because like last year when they said the only place you could bump was the tri-oval, we were all looking at each other and thinking that is the only place you don't want to touch anybody. (LAUGHS) Honestly, the tri-oval is the only place if somebody bumps you the thing will turn around on itself. We were all thinking is he serious. It is now good because people are smart enough to know where to get out, where to get going and it always works."

DO YOU THINK DRIVERS WILL TEST THE BUMP DRAFTING LIMITS EARLY IN LIKE THE SHOOTOUT AND NASCAR WILL HAVE TO MAKE A JUDGMENT? "I remember last year at Daytona, I was bumping the hell out of people I think the rule came for Talladega."

DO YOU EXPECT THERE TO BE A LOT MORE BUMPING AND BANGING AT ALL TRACKS "Well, yes, but I think they do already so (laughs)......I don't know, I think when it's time to go, it's time to go. It's simple. I think if you wreck somebody on purpose in the middle of the straight then you will still get parked because that is putting somebody in danger but if you get in a corner and you tangle and you hit each other I think they will be okay with that."


DO YOU ENJOY THAT? "If it's a clean aggressive move, then yes, but if you are trying to wreck somebody on purpose then no. That's stupid and if somebody is just trying to wreck you that is stupid. But if you can go at it hard, I think it's fun."

DO YOU THINK THERE WILL BE MORE ATTENTION PAID TO IT? "Well I think there has been a lot of skepticism about penalties when people touch one another, and I think a lot of that is going to go away."

REGARDING THE LEVEL OF COMPETITION AND EQUIPMENT AT THIS LEVEL. "In Formula One if you are in the right car then you have got sixty percent of the job done already. Then you just have to beat your teammate one week that the car is fast and you win the race. It's that simple. It's hard because you have to be good enough to be in a good car and the timing has got to be right but........."

"I will give an example. If that Brown team is going to be the fastest car next year, then Michael (Schumacher) is going to win races. If the Brown team is the fourth fastest car, then they are not going to win races.........even if they have Michael. It is what it is."

ARE YOU SURPRISED HE CAME BACK? "No, I was surprised that he retired when he did. I think he will be fine and it's what he does and it will depend on what the car will do."

COULD HE DO THIS OVER HERE? "Yeah. You know we all at the top level, whether you say Jimmie Johnson, Michael Schumacher, Jeff Gordon or myself, I think we are all talented guys and can get the job done. The way I adapted to this, somebody here could adapt to that. The problem is here........that I was lucky enough to have a boss in Chip that was patient enough and understood enough what I was going through. And they supported me and I think that was one of the key factors. You know, the same thing with Danica..........after two or three races if she runs bad and they go to her and tell her that she has to run better or we are done then she is going to be screwed but if they go there and they say 'don't worry about it lets keep on working on this' then she'll be fine."

ABOUT DEFINING THE LINE ON THE JUDGEMENT CALLS "It doesn't take much to be honest with you. One thing is hard racing, and the other thing is stupidity."

IS IT GOING TO BE HARDER TO MAKE THE CHASE THIS YEAR WITH THIS TYPE OF CONTACT? "No, I don't think so. I don't think that is going to change but I think the thing that is going to be harder is that if you look at last year, Roush didn't run well, RCR didn't run that well last year, so there are always good teams and average teams and there is always about fifteen to sixteen cars that can realistically make the Chase so you have to be in the better part of them."

WILL GUYS BE CONSERVATIVE TO TRY AND MAKE THE CHASE? "Whether you race aggressive or smooth you still have to make the end of the race and you still have to get the points. If you don't, then being aggressive doesn't help you."

-source: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Michael Schumacher , Kevin Harvick , Jimmie Johnson , Danica Patrick
Teams JR Motorsports