Sonoma, CA. Montoya — Friday media visit

Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images
Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, No. 42 TARGET Impala SS met with members of the media at Infineon Raceway and discussed road course racing, contending for the ‘Chase’ and other topics.

DO YOU LIKE RACING AT INFINEON?: «I guess it makes it a little bit easier because this is my background. I think our cars have come a long way — even when we won here, our cars are a little more competitive now. It would be nice if we could win here, but it’s still the same goal. We have to try to finish better than where we are running in the points. That is our goal and as much as it can be a big points day Sunday, you can get involved in a wreck and be out of the race. You have to really keep that in mind, but it’s exciting. I think we’ve got a car capable of winning the race and I think if we get a chance to take it then we probably will.»

WHAT IS YOUR APPROACH TO THE DOUBLE-FILE RESTARTS AT THIS TRACK?: «I think everybody is thinking about surviving and running as well as you can, getting good points days when you can and see what happens.»

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE TIRE TESTING AT INDIANAPOLIS?: «It’s would be nice to be able to go there and not have any problems, but realistically I think they’re going to be fine. They have done a lot of work and I will tell you that these cars are pretty good. They run well and it will be nice to not have any tire problems, especially when everyone runs the same car then tires shouldn’t be an issue. We had problems at Dover earlier in the year and it hurt us a lot in the points, but it is what it is and you can’t change it.»

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THE POSSIBLE SPLIT IN FORMULA 1?: «To be honest with you, I don’t really care. I think if anything it will help NASCAR and bring more attention to NASCAR like when the Indy cars split. If anybody hasn’t seen this live then they should come and watch it because it gets really exciting.»

WILL IT BE BAD FOR FORMULA 1 IF THIS HAPPENS?: «Is it really going to split and happen — you never know. To tell you the truth, I don’t really care.»


DOES YOUR FAMILY DO ANYTHING SPECIAL FOR YOU ON FATHER’S DAY?: «I always get a little present and things that is cool. For me today, it’s all about the racing, not Father’s Day. My kids are actually with their Grandmother back home so I get to see them on Monday. For me, right now all the focus is on the race.»

DO YOU RIDE THE EMOTIONAL WAVE OF COMING TO THIS TRACK WHERE YOU ARE A FAVORITE TO WIN?: «You just have to be patient and I think we have the pace to be up front and if you play it right then you are going to be there. Worst case scenario you’re probably going to finish fifth here. For us, playing a good fuel strategy here like you always have to and see what happens at the end.»

CAN YOU AFFORD TO GAMBLE WITH WHERE YOU ARE IN POINTS?: «It depends on how big the gamble is. I think everybody here and everybody from eighth to 15th in the points knows that they can’t afford any big mistakes. We’ll see what happens.»

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO HEAR THAT MARK MARTIN IS LOOKING FORWARD TO RUNNING A ROAD COURSE RACE WITH YOU?: «It’s incredible, he’s always been so big and I keep asking him questions. He’s been a big help. It’s funny because he’s been around so long that he understands this car, he understands the business and he’s a cool guy to have around like that.»

WHAT ARE THE DOUBLE FILE RESTARTS GOING TO BE LIKE?: «They’re going to suck. There is always somebody that wants to prove a point. Hopefully that guy is not around you.»

SHOULD YOU BE THE FAVORITE TO WIN THIS RACE?: «I don’t know and I don’t care. I think we can run well. Same guys always here run well. Honestly its all about finishing better than where we are in points. That’s our goal every week and this week because it’s a road course, it’s not going to change. If we can have a great points day then we’ll take a great points day. If we play a different strategy and it doesn’t pan out and we finish 10th — 10th is better than 14th.»

DO YOU THINK PEOPLE EXPECT YOU TO WIN ON ROAD COURSES?: «It’s kind of funny because when I talk to people about these cars on road courses, they are so different to drive than anything that I’ve driven before. Everything I’ve driven before, you had to have some experience — how brave are you, how late can you brake, how hard can you run? This one, you don’t. I mean you kind of have to cruise and try to go fast cruising — it’s very hard and very different than anything I’ve driven before.»

DO OTHER DRIVERS HAVE AN ADVANTAGE AT INFINEON BECAUSE THEY HAVE WON ON SEVERAL ROAD COURSES?: «I think it just matters at the moment where you are and how good you are, at the time. I think I have a good car, I think my background being mainly road courses is going to help us out here and hopefully it plays into our hands. We’ve been really good the last few weeks, everywhere we’ve been and its all about timing, doing everything right, not making mistakes and see what happens. Last year I was second with 20 laps to go and I got spun and I got taken out by (Marcos) Ambrose. That could happen again. The position we are in points this year, you have to be more aware of things like that.»

HOW TOUGH WILL THIS TRACK BE ON JEFF GORDON’S BACK INJURY?: «I don’t know — it’s like running a short track I think. I think Martinsville is harder than this.»

WHAT MAKES THIS NEW CAR BETTER?: «I think when we came here it was Brian’s (Pattie, crew chief) first race on a road course. We hardly tested and it was horrible. We made a lot of work through the week and made it better. I think the car we had in Watkins Glen was a really fast car. I think the car we have here is even better.»

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’RE A ‘CHASE’ TEAM?: «Yes. The problem is that there are 16 to 20 cars that are ‘Chase’ teams and are capable of making the ‘Chase.’ In a way I’m glad we’re one of them, but the bad part of it — if you’re running eighth and you can finish fourth or a little higher up then you have a little bit of a cushion then when you have a bad day you don’t struggle. I think right now we struggle.»

CAN YOU NOT AFFORD BAD DAYS IN ORDER TO MAKE THE ‘CHASE?’: «Everybody will have a bad day or two — the question is how bad are they.»

IS THIS WEEKEND AN OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU TO GAIN A LOT OF GROUND?: «Or lose a lot. That’s why you have to be very smart and don’t try so hard to get a victory that we screw ourselves in the championship.»

WILL YOU ‘CHASE’ RACE?: «I will ‘Chase’ race, yes. Surprising, isn’t it?»

COULD YOU IMAGINE HAVING SAID THAT THREE YEARS AGO?: «No, we were no where near and it was all about proving a point. Of course we want to win races and of course we want to run well, but I don’t think anybody in the position that we are can really afford taking too many risks.»

WILL YOU GO FOR THE LEAD IF YOU ARE ‘CHASE’ RACING?: «I’m going to run hard. It’s just avoiding stupid mistakes, avoiding stupid wrecks. A lot of people try to out-brake in the last corner here, but there is always people taken out and I was a victim of that. If you can avoid that somehow then you have to. It doesn’t mean that you are not going to try to win, but the same goal is that we have to try to make the ‘Chase’ and by trying to take the lead and spinning out and finishing 25th, at the end of the day we didn’t win and we lost points. If we stay in second and finish second, then we didn’t win, but we had a good points day.»

ARE THE CARS MATCHING UP TO YOUR TALENT ON OVALS OR ARE YOU GETTING USED TO THE CARS?: «We have gotten to the point where I am learning more about the cars, understanding better the cars and at the same time I think we are making the car more suitable to me. Brian (Pattie, crew chief) — he knows what I like about the car and what I don’t. We work together on it right now.»

HOW CHALLENGING HAS IT BEEN TO LEARN THESE CARS?: «They’re very different to drive, but it’s a race car and you have to learn how to use it. Everybody else has — guys that run up front and win races have figured it out, they’re comfortable and they do it. The position we are in and how we are heading, I think we’re there. We’re very close and I feel close to start winning races. It’s all about keeping the momentum.»

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF DANICA PATRICK TALKING ABOUT RACING STOCK CARS VERSUS OPEN-WHEEL CARS?: «I think she’s used to more of the open wheel. If you watch Formula 1 then its all about the equipment. You would think that if she was at Hendrick then she would run well, but you look at a guy like (Dale Earnhardt) Junior who has experience and has won races and is struggling right now — at Hendrick. Equipment really helps and background really helps, but you will struggle.»

DO TEAMS SPLITTING FROM FORMULA 1 HAVE A SHOT TO MAKE IT?: «Of making another series, yeah — they would kill Formula 1. If they go then they would kill Formula 1, but I don’t really care. All the manufacturers and everybody is there, you know what I mean.»

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