THE MODERATOR: Post-race for Aaron’s 499 here at Talladega Superspeedway. We’re joined by our third place finisher Juan Pablo Montoya, he drives the No. 42 Tom’s Chevrolet for Earnhardt Ganassi. Juan, talk about how things unfolded down there towards the end of the race today.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: It was cool. You know, every restart it was a little bit different, you’re in a different position, and you’re always hoping that you had somebody good that you could push or you were always hoping that somebody would push you. The second restart when I had Jamie in front, I thought, oh, here we go, we cleared him and we were looking pretty good, and for some reason it just wasn’t enough.
But it’s okay. I thought we had a chance at winning the race today when I had Hamlin behind, but for some reason the two were a little bit faster.
Q: On a day like this, is your overwhelming emotion happy that you ran this good, happy that you finished this good, or frustrated that you guys weren’t able to seal the deal?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: The way the season is going, I was actually surprised we didn’t wreck. I’m being honest with you. At least we’re 4 for 4 now, and in the four finishes we got a Top 10 and three Top 5s. We’ve got the pace, just we’ve been very unlucky this year, and we really needed a good finish to gain some points, and to get both the Ganassi cars up there was pretty cool.
Q: Last year about this time there was a lot of talk about you just points racing and trying to nurse it to the Chase, but you’re in a different spot than you were last year, and I heard you say throw it out the window, don’t worry about saving fuel
, I’m going to go for the win. Do you have a different mentality than this time a year ago?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Yeah, we’ve got a car that is a lot faster. Last year if we could get to the Top 10 it was a miracle, especially at this time of the season, where with this we can run Top 5 every week. We can definitely get more points.
At the same time we’ve been involved in three wrecks where it’s completely out of our hands, but it’s part of racing. That’s what makes it interesting and that’s why the fans are here. For us it’s a big challenge. I think both cars have the potential to make the Chase, and we’ve just got to be smart about it.
THE MODERATOR: Also joining us today is our race runner-up, Juan’s teammate, drives the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Tracker Boats Chevrolet, and that’s Jamie McMurray. Jamie, talk about how things finished up out there this afternoon.
JAMIE McMURRAY: Had a really good car. Worked well with Juan all day wrong and just ran a really smart race. We just logged some laps at the beginning. I think that most people thought that the spoiler and the plate was going to make the cars close up a little quicker than what we had had in the past, and when we talked about it in our meeting earlier in the morning we thought it would just be best to at least log some laps for the first 20, and then when we got back there, it just — we waited until like I think 50 or 60 laps to go and then made a move to the front.
You know, it’s really hard to get to the front because everybody runs up against the wall, and it’s a struggle to get enough momentum and enough cars on the bottom to get the speed that you need.
But we worked really well together, and ended up I think second and third there behind the 31 car. I think if it would have ran green at that point we were sitting in a really good position for both of us, because when you’re in that position you’ve got a teammate behind you that can push you, and it wouldn’t have been a big deal to go by the 31.
Q: Could you talk about Kevin’s pass on you down there at the flag? Was it more a matter of he loosened you and did he get into you any, or was this more of a drafting thing?JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, I mean, I really thought that Kevin was going to go high. I felt like I was close enough to the yellow line that there was a lot more racetrack to the right, and it seemed like you could stall guys out more on the outside than you could the inside. And so I was really guarding against the outside, and when he went left, it did, it really loosens the car up. It’s hard to explain to you guys that aren’t in cars, but when there’s someone directly behind you and they pull their car out of line really fast, it’s like you pull a parachute in your car. It literally feels like you lose three or five miles an hour immediately, and when that happens, the car that’s doing the passing just has the momentum.
Really once he got underneath me, all I was doing was side drafting and hoping I could stall him out and just get him back to the start-finish line.
Q: Jamie, can you talk about that last restart, having the disadvantage of having Juan next to you on that restart, unlike before where he was able to push you?
JAMIE McMURRAY: Yeah, I mean, ultimately you would like to have your teammate either right in front of you or right behind you. There was a little bit of an advantage to being the pacesetter on the inside because I would just wave the guy behind me and I really would let him start the race, not me. I would let him get to my bumper and set the pace of crossing the start-finish line. So you have just that little bit of momentum. If he can break the plane of the car on the outside’s front bumper, you have all the momentum at least for a half of a lap. It was an advantage to get to be on the inside.
Q: You guys were remarkably aggressive out there as a group for the fifth or sixth straight week. What’s the deal this season? It’s like Texas, it’s Talladega. You guys are paid to be aggressive, I guess, but it’s been remarkably aggressive the last few weeks.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: They said, have at it, boys, and we did. I think we run the same every week.
JAMIE McMURRAY: I don’t think it’s any different, either, I think it’s just the perspective from watching —
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: There’s been a lot of wrecks, too. But we’ve also been in all of them.
JAMIE McMURRAY: Right, we’ve been in every one of them together.
Q: How close were you both on fuel at the end? TV kept speculating you both were going to run out. And then Juan, why do you think that the 29 and Jamie were able to get —
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I don’t know, I was talking about that. I think the 11 had a lot of damage. I think we lost a little bit there.
JAMIE McMURRAY: Well, I felt like they had more speed, and then I heard the spotter tell me you’ve got three now pushing — there was someone behind Kevin that started pushing, and as soon as he said that, I was like, here we go.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I had a really good restart, and I’m like, we got him. I’m with the 11, I’m going to win this. All of a sudden the inside just took off and for some reason I think the 5 was coming, and we lost a little bit of — we stopped bumping and one and two a little bit passed the white flag and I think we lost a bit of ground.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: It was fine, plenty.
JAMIE McMURRAY: I thought I was really close. I was paranoid. I worry a lot. I was pretty stressed out the whole time. I won the race here last year because we were able to stay out on fuel, and typically what goes around comes around, and I thought this would just be a great day to run out while you’re leading.
Q: I think every time we got here this gets asked, but is the show for the fans worth the risk for the drivers?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: If you don’t want to be here, then don’t be here. I think it’s cool, and I think the fans love it. It sucks when you wreck, but the show isn’t going to get any better than this. It’s pretty exciting, pretty crazy. It’s pretty quiet in the beginning and the middle. But I mean, it pays off with the last few restarts. You know, NASCAR used the triple restart and it worked out here. It sucked for us, but it was awesome for the fans.
JAMIE McMURRAY: This is for a driver, when it comes down to the end, it’s — anyone who’s ever — like we were talking about working out earlier today, and I wear a heart rate monitor, and you’ll set your heart rate like at 140 or whatever working out. And when we get ready to come to plate races and you start thinking about everything that’s going to happen and like what might happen at the last lap, your heart rate just escalates, it peaks, and it’s just crazy.
I’d love to know what everybody’s heart race — maybe Juan’s isn’t, he’s pretty laid back. But I’m pegged out because it’s so exciting.
Another thing is because I haven’t driven a Nationwide car in a long time, the Car of Tomorrow is so much safer than what the Nationwide cars are. I got in the Nationwide car here and your head is so close to the roll cage and there’s not near as much room to get out if something happens. I think the drivers all feel tremendously safer being in the cars that we’re in now versus these Nationwide cars.
Q: Jamie, you’ve got 312 more miles to go. How are you feeling right now?
JAMIE McMURRAY: I feel pretty good. I wish we could have run the race yesterday, but I’m certainly happy to run it today and not tomorrow. So it shouldn’t be that big a deal. Last week at Texas you just couldn’t put enough fuel in your system. It took like until Wednesday to get rehydrated. So it’ll be the same here. It’s a little bit hotter than what we had at Texas.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, guys. Great show out there this afternoon. Jamie, good luck the next race.