THE MODERATOR: We’re now joined in the infield media center by driver of the No. 42, the Target Chevrolet, Juan Pablo Montoya. Juan Pablo, tell us about your run today.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: It was up and down, all kind of things. Overall it was good. We started really good, really strong. Like the first 30 laps or 40 laps of the run, we were the fastest car, then it seemed to go away; we just got really tight. Tried to work on it, couldn’t really do too much.
At the end we took four tires pretty late. I thought, ooh, not the right call, pit 11, pit 12, and then we restarted at pit 9 or 10 or something like that. I passed a ton of cars every restart, like three or four cars every restart, and I got to Mark.
I thought I had him. I was running beside him, I was like, I think I’m losing power but I think I can get enough just to the line. He cleared me coming out of 4, and then when he went to 1 and 2 he just stopped on the bottom.
It’s okay. I didn’t expect that. I was expecting him to run pretty hard. He just ran very defensively, and I just got caught by surprise. I think if I would have would have been prepared I probably would have jumped to the outside. It’s one of those days.
Q: Can we please also have that in Spanish?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: (Answers in Spanish.)
THE MODERATOR: We’ll open it up to questions.
Q: You’ve mentioned that you have a lot of respect for Mark. If it had been anybody else, would you have been a little bit more aggressive and maybe put a fender on him to try to knock him away?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: He always runs very clean, so I was kind of surprised when he did that. I know it’s the Chase and everything, but you just learn from it. I would have done the same thing. I think you’ve got to do it to somebody that you trust is not going to knock you out, because I think if I would have done — if the second place guy wasn’t me, I think somebody else would have been a little bit more aggressive. But you learn from it. It’s one of those deals that you’ve got to do what it takes, and he did.
Q: To follow up on the same thing, out there on TV you said, «Mark kind of screwed me there.» So you basically —
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: That’s the smart thing to do. You’ve got to learn from it. I haven’t fought for enough wins. Did I get screwed, yeah, because I got 11 beside me the last three laps, and he drove away.
I think when that happens, you’ve just got to go — you don’t want to spin the guy out, but if you slow down like that you maybe want to move the guy a little bit and get the bumper inside. You’ve just got to learn from it.
Q: So you think it’s pretty much a calculated move on his part?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Oh, yeah. How many races has he been around here? It’s good, I’ll learn from it. He’s probably the guy that I respect the most here.
Q: So does this constitute a signal that maybe for the Chase and smelling the championship that maybe the all-time Mr. Nice Guy is no more Mr. Nice Guy for Mark?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: He is. He gives me a lot of space always. With two laps to go, I would have done the same thing. It’s frustrating when they do it to you, but when you do it to somebody else, it feels good. So I got screwed this time. (Laughing.)
Q: Obviously having a good car helps, but listening to you guys on the radio, you’re kind of joking with each other during cautions. Are you guys really feeling any pressure right now, or is this just kind of gravy?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Not really. I mean, what’s the pressure? We made the Chase. From now on, anything about that, it’s a balance. Come here, first Chase race, put on the pole, finish second. Can I ask for anything else? Not really. A win would be nice, but that will come.
Q: Sort of along those same lines, as good a car as you had all weekend long, is there any disappointment at how you guys finished today?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: If you go back to like 30 laps ago and you look and see us running 12th and being able to pick up 11 places or 10 places in, I don’t know, 20 laps, I wouldn’t be pissed off. I’m more than happy. I thought, man, I’m running 12th and I see Kurt and Denny and the 48, the 5 ahead of me, the 24. I’m like, this sucks.
And all of a sudden it’s like boom, boom, boom. I had two good restarts. That’s all it takes. We were very good on the restarts. We’re all out here. There’s no prisoners. We’re not taking any prisoners.
Q: Just two things: Did you find it kind of ironic there at the end that you were the guy that was there pressing Mark Martin and he was the guy who said of you that you were the most dangerous one in this Chase, and how much —
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I want to tell you guys, he keeps saying that, but I think he’s the most dangerous guy. He’s the guy with the most experience here. He hasn’t won a championship, and he wants one pretty bad. I mean, I know the 48 is going to be there every week and everything, same thing as always, but if somebody wants it really bad, it’s that 5 guy. We’ve got to show up and we’ve got to give it everything we’ve got. We ain’t leaving anything on the table; I’ll tell you that.
Q: On Pit Road you talked about the trust you will have now in Brian, I guess. Can you expand on how important it is to have that, especially now in the Chase, between a driver and a crew chief?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: It’s always important. I trust him 100 percent, it’s just sometimes he makes some calls, I am wondering, it’s like, this guy is saying, the other guy is saying, and I’m like, man, why are we pitting? They come out — because it’s not a lot, so they come out and they drive by you, you pull away; by the time you come out you’re going to be that much further behind. We were lucky we had that yellow.
THE MODERATOR: Juan Pablo, congratulations. Thank you for your time.