Juan Pablo Montoya
YOU WERE IN THE SAME POSITION LAST YEAR AS FRANCHITTI IS NOW, WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM HIM?
«He has to get used to the car, how much sliding it is going to do. How much it is going to move around from what he is used to. The brakes and coming into the pits there is no pit limiter. He is used to pressing a button and you don’t worry about it, now you have to do it yourself. That is kind of hard at the beginning.»
DO YOU FEEL VILLENEUVE WILL FACE THE SAME CONCERNS THAT YOU DID FROM OTHER DRIVERS LAST YEAR?
«No, I think what they are talking about with Jacque is that he has only done one race. One stock car race and going and spreading to a Cup race. I think he will be fine but that is where people are concerned.»
WHY ARE INTERNATIONAL DRIVERS NOW ATTRACED TO NASCAR?
«I think they have always been attracted to NASCAR. I think the hard thing about it is that it was seen as a very American sport. If you were American you were in if you were not American you were not. Some people tried it but nobody every committed full time to it, so I did. When I came and I committed and things panned out pretty good I think people thought this is great. What Chip said is true, Dario was meant to be driving this car this year.
«The biggest auto racing series there is in America is this (NASCAR). If you want to make it big this is where you want to be.»
YOU HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL NOT EVERYONE CAN COME OVER AND BE SUCCESSFUL IN NASCAR
«Well I think it is great that people think that. I have been able to drive a lot of different cars and be successful but at the same time Dario has done that as well. Dario drove GPM (Grand Prix Masters) for a couple years he was fast there.»
WHAT IS THE ADVICE YOU GAVE HIM?
«So far we talked a little bit especially about Talladega and what he can expect. The things that really shocked me in the whole train of cars they are so that you can’t see the corners. You have to get used to peeking down and see where the corner is.»
DO YOU THINK OTHER DRIVERS WOULD OF MADE THE JUMP TO NASCAR IF YOU HADN’T STARTED IT?
«Dario would of. I think Dario had the deal done when I talked to Chip. I didn’t even know about it. I found out afterwards that I was taking Dario’s seat. We are very good friends and I didn’t want to take his place but I really wanted to do this with Chip.»
YOU NOW HAVE THE MOST INTERNATIONAL DRIVER LINEUP OF ANYBODY WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FROM A SPONSOR STANDPOINT?
«I think it certainly opens up opportunities not only for us but for the entire sport. In any major corporation at the top levels of it, it is international. Whether it is management or product or the company itself. The world multi-national company is in everybody’s language today. Sports are international whether it’s the NFL, baseball or hockey or some of the things that NASCAR gets compared to from time to time. I think it opens up some opportunities. There certainly some interest from companies that have a global audience and that is a great thing. But that is for other people to talk about. I’m in charge of the drivers.»
Dario Franchitti (2008 driver of the No. 40 Dodge Avenger)
ON PREPARING FOR NASCAR
«I’m just going to ask a lot of questions. One of the first times I sat in a stock car was yesterday. I got in the thing and got my seat fit.
«I did a couple years of racing over in Germany. So I’ve driven with a roof over my head before. I’m just going to be around asking questions. I’m going to be asking Reed (Sorenson), Juan (Montoya), all the crew chiefs and all the guys at the shop. These guys have been through this before with Juan. I think that is really a big help to me because they have been through those growing pains last year. That was another big reason I came to this team because I knew it was done before.
«I’ve been intrigued by the challenge of NASCAR for quite a while. Winning the Indy 500 and the Championship made that decision easier because I had achieved what I wanted to achieve. It was time to move on and jump into this new world.»
ON GOALS FOR SUCCESS
«Right now we are just taking it week by week with this program that Chip has to introduce me to stock car racing with ARCA and Busch. We really haven’t spoke that much about the right away (goals) yet.»
WAS THE DECISION TO COME TO NASCAR MADE BEFORE YOU WON THE CHAMPIONSHIP?
«My mind was made up before that. That was just icing on the cake from a terrific season. It felt really, really good to be able to get that victory (Indy 500) and that Championship. To win those together was special.»
ON RACING WITH NEW DRIVERS IN NASCAR
«That is all part of the learning process. They have to build up that trust with me. I just have to learn. I’ve been doing open wheel for so long that you know exactly how one driver is going to react opposed to another. I look forward to racing these great drivers.»
WHAT WAS YOUR ATTRACTION TO NASCAR
«It was the racing and I keep talking about this new challenge. But I’ve been doing open wheel racing for so long that I was anxious to try something else. NASCAR intrigued me, the competitiveness of the series all those things that go into it. I love the competition of it and just learning something completely different. At this point I have no clue. But going from a position of team leader to a rookie, it’s different.»
DID YOU EVER PICTURE YOURSELF AS TEAMMATES WITH MONTOYA?
» I think it is really good to have him here. It is good because you can relate to him. That is really going to help. Reed as well, he has been really cool about it. I’ll just be asking a lot of questions. Juan and I were teammates for one race in GPM in 1996 so we’ve done this before but I’m looking forward to working with him. It is going to be fun.»
Juan Pablo Montoya