Ganassi, Montoya - Dodge interview

CHIP GANASSI (Car owner Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates) NOTE: Ganassi announced an associate sponsorship with the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company for next season on Sunday morning at PIR. Wrigley will sponsor Reed Sorenson and David Stremme in...

CHIP GANASSI (Car owner Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates)

NOTE: Ganassi announced an associate sponsorship with the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company for next season on Sunday morning at PIR. Wrigley will sponsor Reed Sorenson and David Stremme in the Busch Series and Juan Pablo Montoya in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series in 2007.

WILL MONTOYA ATTEMPT TO QUALIFY FOR NEXT WEEK'S CUP RACE? "We'll see. We're making the decision this week. We'll have our post-race review from this weekend and go from there. If we so decide there is a car entered there."

HOW WOULD YOU CHARACTERIZE THE RECEPTION MONTOYA HAS HAD SO FAR IN NASCAR? "I think he's been doing a great job. We had five of the fastest laps in the (Busch) race yesterday on the good side. On the bad side he came in and pinched the guys against the wall one time. We had a slow, slow stop. It's just another learning curve. Trying to avoid an accident, he glanced off the wall again. In some sense that's four races and four scrapes against the wall. You can look at it that way, too. He understands we're trying to find the limits of these cars. We're very happy with his awareness and what's going on around him and what's going on with the cars. Quite frankly I think he's being too nice when these guys come down on him in the corner. He backs out of it and hits the wall. You just can't do that."

IS THERE ANY REASON NOT TO RUN HIM IN A CUP CAR NEXT WEEK? "We feel very strong about getting him in the Cup race. That's not the issue. The issue is getting him out of the pits in a competitive manner. You can have the fastest car there and if we can't get out of the pits you might as well not even be there. We've got to get the rest of the team organized around it. This has all come on pretty quick about putting him in a Cup race and everything. We just don't want to embarrass him or ourselves out there. We want to make sure it's right. We're certainly leaning to that way. I think it's obviously we're leaning that way. We entered a car, but we're going to look at it this week and decide. Quite frankly, I hope we do it."

ARE YOU LOOKING AT GETTING MONTOYA'S DEBUT OUT OF THE WAY? "I don't look at it that way. Every race we go to now is a new mountain to climb. It's going to be that way for awhile. I've said all along we've got about eight steps to make and we've made about four of them. We have to make four more before we get there. As long as we make solid steps and we can do that we're going to do that, but let's not forget, we're about four steps into an eight-step process. Yes, we've made solid steps. The next four have to all be solid, too."

WHAT'S THE CAR NUMBER? "We have a 42 and 30. Those are the two Havoline cars entered next week." WOULD MONTOYA BE IN THE 30? "Yes, that's the way it stands right now. We're going to take a look at all that this week. A lot of it has to do with how many other cars that are entered and who has a better shot at qualifying. Obviously Casey (Mears) is a great qualifier, but we haven't even broached that subject. As far as Casey knows he's in the 42 next weekend, and I've told him that."


JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (2007 Driver No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge Charger)

WHAT DID YOU THINK ABOUT SATURDAY'S BUSCH RACE AT PIR? "Yesterday was a bad day. We had a really bad car. We qualified well, but the car in the race was terrible. The car really never came to life. I think everybody else's got worse than mine and we started making up a little bit of places. I started running the high line through three and four and some guys spun in front of me. That was pretty much our day. It was good in a way because we had to learn how to work all day with a really bad car and make it better all day. We really missed it a lot yesterday to where we needed to be with the car, but that was good. Everybody with the Texaco/Havoline Dodge at Ganassi has done a good job for me. Do we want to do better? Yeah, we want to do better. Do we need to improve? Yeah, I think when the car is good the speed is there, qualifying is there. It's just learning how to race. I don't want to get in trouble with people so early. I want to try to do it the right way, and if it doesn't work, then you do it the other way."

WHY WOULD YOU NOT RACE AT HOMESTEAD NEXT SUNDAY? "I don't know. I think if everything is right it's worth doing it. If things are not right, there's no point to doing it. We need to make sure the team is capable of running two cars. (It's in Chip's ballpark.)"

ARE YOU SATISFIED WITH YOUR PROGRESS? "In three races I've qualified 9 and 11 and 11. I've been ahead of my teammates, all of them. Generally speaking I think my pace has been really good. I think there are other things to learn still, the overtaking and things like that. We need to work on that a little bit more, but I think that's good. If the cars are in equal position, I can run with people, I can pass people. It works pretty good."

ARE YOU SURPRISED IT'S NOT MORE DIFFICULT? "When you run up front the cars are a lot cleaner and it's easier to run than when you run in the back. Yesterday when I spun in turn one I was beside the guy. I talked to the guy and I said, 'I thought you were in my bumper and I wasn't going to get in your way because I thought you were in my bumper.' There's no point to wreck another guy for the sake of wrecking him, but that's the way he played it and that's it. You've just got to get on with it."

ARE YOU AHEAD OF WHERE YOU THOUGHT YOU'D BE NOW? "Yeah. I'm not racing for points or anything here, and I don't want to (interfere) with anybody's championship or anything. I'm out there to learn. When the car is good, I want people to race me clean. When they're quick, I'll race them clean at the moment. Next year when it gets down to business it'll be a different story. Daytona is all relevant. Daytona is what the car can do. You can win the race or finish 30th and you didn't even know what happened. It's a bit like Talladega. You've just got to have people work with you. I think that's going to be hard to get people to work with me at the beginning, but that's why we've got two teammates. From what I saw at Talladega, I was shocked that all three guys didn't work more together. I think we need to do that."

WOULD YOU LIKE TO GET YOUR FIRST CUP START OUT OF THE WAY? "I don't care. It's just a race. It's getting in the car and driving it. What's the big deal? For me the biggest deal, probably more than doing a Cup race, was probably the ARCA race in Talladega because that was my first stock car race, my first NASCAR style race. It was just a race, get in it, drive the car and see what it does. I think Cup is a lot more give and take than Busch. In Busch people want to prove themselves to be able to get to Cup. When you're in Cup you don't have to do that. Even in F-1 you've got to learn to be patient. Here when things are going bad, just ride along and wait for the pit stop. I even told Chip yesterday it was bad the race wasn't longer. They say the Cup races are harder because they're longer, but in a way that's better. You can make a difference. You make the changes wrong, the next pit stop you can just come in and change the car and keep changing the car until it gets better. You need to make sure you're in that ballpark."

-credit: dodge motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Chip Ganassi , David Stremme , Reed Sorenson , Felix Sabates
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing