Continued from part 1 Dodge Motorsports Teleconference Wednesday, July 12,2006 Chip Ganassi and Juan Pablo Montoya Part 2: JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (2007 Driver No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge Charger) WAS THE POPULARITY OF NASCAR A REASON YOU...
Continued from part 1
Dodge Motorsports Teleconference
Wednesday, July 12,2006
Chip Ganassi and Juan Pablo Montoya
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (2007 Driver No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge Charger)
WAS THE POPULARITY OF NASCAR A REASON YOU MADE THE CHANGE?
"I think the popularity of the sport is very important. I think in America NASCAR is huge, especially if you come here and spend a month between the two races and you see how much is involved in NASCAR. It's huge and for me to be able to come here and work with NASCAR with the diversity program and bringing new fans into the sport and help promote the sport, I think it's a huge thing. We're all going to benefit out of this deal. The reason I made the decision is about how great the racing is. The main reason I made the switch is because I think the racing is great."
WHY DO YOU THINK PERCEPTIONS ABOUT NASCAR HAVE CHANGED SO QUICKLY?
"I think a lot of people are scared of making switches and it's a big switch. The change from open wheel racing to a Cup car is so big. A lot of people are scared of making the switch, but I've been so welcomed and I've got to thank everybody for making me feel so welcome around the garage. I think a lot of people think, 'oh, I can be welcome, too.' I think that's a lot of it."
IS WATKINS GLEN A PLACE YOU MIGHT HAVE YOUR EYE ON TO START AND FEEL COMFORTABLE?
"No, at the moment the main focus with Chip is getting to know everybody and finalizing everything with McLaren and see where we start. It's good the way both parties on Sunday night, great for you, great for me. McLaren, Mercedes and Dodge, it's the same company. It's all DaimlerChrysler, so in a way I'm still part of the family and it's great. Am I thinking about starting early at Watkins Glen? I don't think so. It's not so important what's going to be my first race. For me it's getting to know the cars, getting ready for next year. What really matters is the season ahead next year, not this year."
DISCUSS EXPECTATIONS FOR NEXT SEASON
"A lot of people are going to have their eyes, expecting what I'm going to do in the first few years. One reason Chip and I decided to do a long term deal was it's going to take time. Jeff Gordon's comments were with time he was sure I can do well. I'm not expecting to be right out of the box winning races or anything like that. It's a long learning curve. I've had that question before about a road course. I'm sure I could do well on a road course, but there's two races against 36. There are 34 races on ovals and two races on road courses. I think road courses are a very minority of the whole picture."
DISCUSS TECHNICAL ADJUSTMENTS YOU'RE GOING TO MAKE TO BECOME A NASCAR DRIVER
"Bumping is one of them, getting used to people hitting you from behind. Is it a friendly push? What is a friendly push and what is not? Getting used to running side-by-side with a car beside you for 20 laps or 100 laps. That's very important learning when to draft, learning when to move out of the draft, learning when to go high and when to go low. When I raced CART before people used to go high, but I was watching a replay of the Daytona race and Chicago race, these guys run so close to the wall it's not even funny. That's going to take a lot of practice. I know the team is going to be very patient with me. It's going to take time and we're all in it together for the long run."
WILL YOU FEEL PRESSURE TO PERFORM WELL IMMEDIATELY?
"It's going to take time. It's such a big deal. I wasn't really expecting it to be such a big deal. I'm really happy with the change I made, with the choice I made. People are going to be watching closely, so I think it's very important to be well prepared. I think we need to be well prepared. If we decide to do a race or two at the end of the year, whatever Chip decides to do, I think we need to be prepared. It doesn't matter how good I do this year. The important thing is how we do next year. The focus is getting ready for next year."
HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE BROUGHT ALONG?
"I'll rely on Chip Ganassi to make sure how they bring me along. I'm the rookie here. Yes, I have a lot of knowledge. I've raced a lot of cars and I have a lot of experience in spots, but it's a new world for me. They know it and I don't. I'm open to suggestions. If they say we want to go there, I'll say, 'OK, we'll go there.' Where they think it's right I'll be there."
ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT POTENTIAL PROBLEMS WITH YOUR RELEASE FROM McLAREN?
"No, I think everything with McLaren is pretty settled. It's not a matter of releasing or not releasing. It's a matter of working together. I'm not racing the Formula One program, but the reason I'm not driving the Formula One program is because DaimlerChrysler's interest at the moment is for me to be here. To be realistic, we're completely out of the championship this year, so there was no point... To learn here, it's going to take time. The more time I can spend here in America and focus on next year's deal is important."
ELABORATE ON THE F1 RELEASE
"It's not a matter of when it's released or not. It's not about being released. It's about working together and seeing when we can actually start doing the job. It's a matter of talking and deciding what's the best for me and what's the best for DaimlerChrysler. It's that simple."
WOULD IT BE BETTER FOR YOU TO JUMP IN RIGHT NOW?
"I think at this point it's a little premature to be honest in a way. You think about it and they're right in the middle of the season. Yes it's important for me to get up to speed with the team, but I think at the same time it's important not to disturb the way the team is developing this year. You cannot damage their program because I got released a bit early. The plan with Chip was always the end of October. If we have a couple more months we should be happy about that. We shouldn't be arguing if it's now or in a month's time. The main focus here is 2007."
COMMENT ON YOUR DRIVING STYLE?
"I think style is hard to say. I think everybody has his personal style. Once you drive the car and see how comfortable... I think it's about how comfortable you are with the car. If you're really comfortable you can be more aggressive and use more of the car. If you're not as comfortable and the car is not as comfortable for you to drive you need to be a bit more predictable with the car. I don't know. I haven't even driven the car yet. It's hard to say how's my style. I get along with Jeff Gordon well and Casey Mears and David Stremme and all the guys at Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates already came to me and told me whatever you need. Every driver I've met so far has been mega nice to me. It's been 'anything you need we will help you.' I've never seen that before. I've been in Formula 1 for six seasons. In six seasons I've been to the Williams motorhome and McLaren motorhome. I've never been to any other motorhome in Formula 1. In 10 minutes I was in Jimmie Johnson's, Roger Penske. I was in every bus and motorhome and everyone was nice. They're just happy to be there and it's great to see. It's great to see people loving the sport and enjoying the sport."
COMMENT ON OTHER OFFERS IN FORMULA ONE?
"The chance Chip gave me to come to America and race NASCAR, you don't get it every day. Maybe three or four years down the line, maybe the opportunity wasn't available. Maybe Chip wouldn't want to give me a ride in four years. Maybe he could have. Moments come in your life and you can either take them or leave them. I decided to take it. I decided it was best for me, the best for my career, the best for my family and I'm just happy. I'm so happy to be working again with Chip."
WHAT DOES YOUR MOVE MEAN FOR F1?
"I think F1 from the technology point of view is the highest sport there is. It is very well positioned world wide. You come to America and nobody is really interested in it. When I was there it was hard to see, but now being a part of NASCAR and being able to be involved with the Latin market and having Colombians, being close to Colombia, everything is just fantastic. From my point of view, to be able to say five years down the line hopefully I could go say 'I won in CART. I won in IRL. I won in Formula 1 and I won in NASCAR.' How many drivers in the world are able to say they've won in everything they raced on? That's exciting to me. Of course I want to do well. I want to kick everyone's butt there, but it's not going to be easy. Everybody out here is great, and they're going to make my life very tough."