Loudon II: Pole winner interview

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA , NO. 42 TARGET IMPALA SS - POLE WINNER: TALK ABOUT YOUR RECORD-SETTING LAP "It was a good lap, I guess (laughs). I don't know. To tell the truth, most of the practice we did race runs. We switched to qualifying runs. Did...

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA , NO. 42 TARGET IMPALA SS - POLE WINNER:

TALK ABOUT YOUR RECORD-SETTING LAP

"It was a good lap, I guess (laughs). I don't know. To tell the truth, most of the practice we did race runs. We switched to qualifying runs. Did one lap. Came in. At the end of practice we did another run. The lap wasn't that great. So it's okay. Can't complain."

NOW THAT YOU ARE IN THE CHASE, WILL YOU TAKE MORE CHANCES? ARE ALL BETS OFF?

"I don't think with top 10's you're going to win the championship. But at the same time, you look at Brian Vickers. He had one win, but apart from one win he was like 7th or 8th or 6th or 5th. And if you look at that average, it was the best average in the last 10 races. Right now, there's not a clear guy that you can say man, this guy is just going to dominate every week. So, I think you've got to be very smart about it. Most of the cars in the Chase are going to be up there. To gain points on them is going to be really hard. To lose points to them is going to be very easy. I think you've got to be very smart on that aspect, but you've got to go for wins. You've got to go for broke here."

EARLIER TODAY, YOU SAID YOU SHOULD GO FOR WINS IF THE SHOT WAS THERE. DOES THIS POLE AND STARTING UP FRONT GIVE YOU ANY EARLY INDICATION THAT THE OPPORTUNITY MIGHT BE THERE ON SUNDAY?

"No, if it is, great. But you know how these races go. If it was a 10-lap shootout, I'll say, hey, we're looking good. But what is it like 300 laps or something? Or 400 laps? I don't even know. It's a bunch of laps."

JEFF BURTON ONCE LED EVERY LAP HERE

"Oh, I wouldn't mind, you know. As long as I lead the last one, I don't care. Every pit stop needs to be good and you've got to have a good car because you know, you're not going to come out of the pits; you know if I'm leading, the chances of coming out of the pits every time leading are pretty slim. So you've got to have a good car for traffic. And you've got to be smart and see where your car is good and where it's not, the way you do every week."

AFTER THE CHASE AT RIR, MARK MARTIN SAID YOU WERE THE GUY WHO LOOKED TO BE THE MOST DANGEROUS IN THE CHASE.

"And I think it's him (laughter). I honestly believe, you know, Mark Martin right now; some weeks they've run out of fuel or you know they can beat themselves pretty easy. But on speed? I would think that's the car to beat. I think it's great that he thinks a car (to watch), and hey it makes you feel good, and I like Mark Martin saying that. But I'm always in the theory of let the driving do the talking."

WHAT DO YOU THINK HE KNEW THAT THE REST OF US DON'T KNOW ABOUT IT

"I don't know either so why don't you tell me (laughter). Honestly, I really don't know. I think he knows there are a lot of 1.5-mile race tracks and we run really well there. And I think our weakest race track is Richmond. We aren't going to Richmond, so I don't mind (laughs). No Richmond and no Michigan so I'm happy."

IT TOOK A LITTLE BIT OF TIME FOR YOU TO SETTLE IN

"You think?"

YEAH, I THINK. DO YOU THINK THIS WILL ENCOURAGE TEAM OWNERS TO LOOK A LITTLE LONGER AT OPEN WHEEL DRIVERS WHO WANT TO DO THE CROSSOVER?

"The question is are they willing to wait for three years? You know we ran pretty good the first year. Last year was horrible. But I think what Gibbs did this year with Joey (Logano) is the same thing. It's a young guy who has not a lot of experience. The first five or six races, he struggled. And now he's starting to get it together and some weeks he still struggles but in the long term he's going to be a good guy. And people need to remember that. You can have team owners like that who will stick by you and believe in you. If you run bad one year, then oh, it doesn't work. And they get somebody else. Those teams will never come out of that hole. If you look at Brian Pattie and myself, look at the way we're running right now. Look at how our cars are every week. Go back a year from now and when we would run 15th, we were celebrating. Honestly, it was like yeah, 15th! We didn't finish 25th. It takes time. I'll tell you, these cars don't drive anything like an open wheel (car); nothing like I've driven before. There is a certain way you've got to drive them to go fast. If you ask me to explain it to you, I couldn't. But I learned to drive them. I know how deep I need to go. I know how hard I need to press the brakes and how I need to get on the gas. Even like there are some weeks, I struggle. There are a lot of weeks where I go to Mark Martin and say I don't know what to do. He looks at me and starts laughing. I say I'm serious you know?

"When I go to him and I say I can't do this and I can't do that; it's like running the bottom. I'm getting better at it, I'll tell you that. If it's 10 laps around the bottom, probably six or seven I can get right. But he gets 10 out of 10 right. That guy never misses it. He drives it in really hard. I drive it in hard and I get to the bottom and the front goes (zip-zip) straight up. So for me to get to the bottom I've got to get out of the gas a lot earlier than they do and I can run a decent pace, but Mark drives it all the way in, gets to the bottom, and the thing goes poof! It turns around the bottom and you go. Ahh. But on the top, you know I've done it so long on the top that I'm pretty good in the middle and on the top when I have more race track. It seems like I don't mind having the wall on the right but that line on the left is not my friend."

AT WHAT POINT DID YOU STOP CONSIDERING YOURSELF AN OPEN WHEEL DRIVER AND START CONSIDERING YOURSELF A FULL TIME STOCK CAR DRIVER?

"Oh, from the day I came I knew I was committed to be 100 percent in stock car. A lot of guys come here and say oh we're going to try for a couple of weeks. If you come here for a couple of weeks, nobody is going to respect you. You can't race people like you ran open wheel. I read an article about Danica (Patrick) may be coming and if she's coming, people won't like when she runs good. If she runs somebody hard, they'll dump her. I got dumped a lot of times. You've got to understand. When you come from open wheel, you have a wing. So you stick that nose in and somebody turns you get out of the gas because of the wing. You've got a bumper here. You stick that nose in and somebody turns in and later. You know it's going to happen so you've got to give the guy some room."

AT TALLADEGA YOU TALKED ABOUT HOW DIFFICULT IT WAS TO DRIVE THE CAR. IS THIS YOUR REAL POLE?

"Yeah, I think Talladega is a great team effort. It shows how good our cars are on restrictor plate, but I think my mother could have gotten in the car and got that pole, you know? You run the top, you run the bottom wide open and you hope it's fast enough. You've got to make sure you go fast through the gears and that's the only trick. Here, you're really got to hustle the car. Last week, I was fastest in practice. I went out to qualify and qualified 20th. And I thought it was an awesome lap. I finished the lap and thought I really got that one together. I'm like, oh great. What do I got to do to come back from practice and nail qualifying? Here we didn't do anything different and it happened. The thing starts clicking. It's like when you win. Once you win, things will start clicking and you'll be fine."

TALK ABOUT HOW MUCH BETTER YOU ARE AT GETTING ON AND OFF PIT ROAD AS OPPOSED TO A YEAR AGO:

"In Formula One, you really have to come in to the guys really really hot. The harder thing here is that if you try to go in that hot, you are going to miss it by like three pits. You don't to give up time, but there are little things like make sure when you are sliding through, stay on the brakes so they guys know and can see the nuts and where to start. Don't slide when you are coming in and come off the brakes because they have to wait until the wheel stops again. So, little things like that. You have to play with the box and a lot of it is the crew chief, knowing how far. Are you going to be blocked by somebody coming out? You have to make sure you pit early enough. If it is closed behind you need to go deep enough. You have got to learn to give people room here. It is really weird, but you have to.

"Last couple of races our pit crew has been really conservative. Make sure nothing is loose. You can not afford to have a loose wheel when you are in that position in the Chase. You know we had flat tires and all kinds of issues, but we didn't make a mistake. I think we have got to keep doing that. Our pit stops need to be a little faster, but they are doing that. When they nail it, it is really good."

DID YOU EVER HAVE A THOUGHT THAT NASCAR WOULD BE TOO DIFFICULT OR DID YOU KNOW RIGHT AWAY THAT YOU WOULD FIT RIGHT IN?

"The way I always see things in life even when I was in Formula One and racing Schumacher and all of that, it is simple. You have two arms, two legs, two eyes, there is nothing different. So, if they can do it, that means you can do it. As long as you work hard enough for it, it is ok. Is it easy? No, it is never easy. You have to know to get the right people. You need people to work as hard as you work and you need people to be as committed as you are to this."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Brian Vickers , Mark Martin