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Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images
Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA — 3rd finisher

The Moderator: Our third place finisher today has joined us here in the interview room in the garage. That’s Juan Pablo Montoya. Tell us about your run today.

JPM: When it was cool, we were really good. We had the fastest car, and I could just had drifted through the corner enough, just pedalled the car through the corner, got really fast.

As it got harder, I got looser, and couldn’t get on the gas. We got off the corner. We tried to fix that. And the more we fixed it, the worst it got in the corner. We went in circles for a little bit. In the end it got better, but it was a little late.

I think I had a car good enough to beat the 24. He pinned me down here in the last lap and got me really loose. Just a bunch of momentum. But, hey, it’s what it is. We finished third. That is good for the Chase, so we’ll just move on.

The Moderator: Sounds good. You are now third place in the points. 58 points out of the lead.

JPM: Yeah, I was seven.

The Moderator: You are now in third place.

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images
JPM: It’s incredible. We have four or five in a row and I’ve been losing points to the leader. It is what it is. I think it’s what you said before, you ain’t going to make any points on anybody. Everybody that runs good is going to be there. You just got to make sure you don’t lose any.

If you make a mistake, I think the 11 made a huge mistake coming down on me. I was surprised. When I saw it, I was like» What is he doing? What is he doing?» And he was fifth in points and took him out of contention.

So I was kind of surprised when he did that. I don’t know if the spotter didn’t tell him I was there or something. I couldn’t do anything. I had the 48 just pushing me all the way. So just trying to avoid something, you end up wrecking yourself. But, you’ve just got to go to the next one.

I think as I said before, you know, once you pass Martinsville and Talladega and you look at the points you say okay, what do we need to do for that? Doesn’t matter how many points. We’re doing Top 5s every week. We hope to keep doing that. It would be nice if we can get a freaking win soon and we can move on.

The Moderator: A quick wrap up, if you would in Spanish.

Q: Does it not get frustrating though the fact that you have, you would think, four Top 5s to start the Chase, you would be the leader?

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JPM: No, I had, remember when we started the Chase I was 40 points behind already. So against the five car I should have been like four points. But at the same time we’re getting Top 5s, and Top 5s here left and right. You know, we’re getting close to our first win. We know it’s going to happen. But I think that’s why we fall behind in, you know, the Chase.

If you ask me, ask anybody, ask yourself, did you think we were going to be this competitive when the Chase started? No. We just wanted to make the Chase. And we played our strategy to make the Chase.

If I could run this good every week next year, then you can win races, take risks, and it doesn’t matter. You know, if you DNF one race, you go out the next one, you get another Top 5 and you keep running. But when you’re running 10, 12 every week, you cannot take any chances. You’ve got to keep finishing, keep that average up.

Q: What I don’t understand about this whole run you’ve put together is where did it come from and were you capable of this with the whole season?

JPM: No.

Q: Is this something that you were sand bagging early in the season?

JPM: (Laughing) I wish. If you look before the Chase started we finished third in Atlanta. We ran second in Bristol, and we blew a tire. We should have finished second in Pocono. We should have won Indy. It was a lot of races we were good, and there were other races we went not with our best cars. We were building better cars. Our cars at the time were good enough for what we needed to do.

We’re not going to go to Richmond with a brand new car hoping, and you never know what it’s going to do, you know. We tried to bring our best equipment
every week. We normally do. It’s just everything’s clicking. It keeps clicking, you know.

I’m driving the car a lot better. I understand the car a lot better. Just something clicked, you know what I mean? And I figured out a little bit here, a little bit there.

Once things start clicking, you understand. And they tell you it’s like Jimmie Johnson told me the same thing. This is what I do. And you try it, and you don’t get it. Three years, three and a half years down the road you go, oh, I understand what he was saying, and it works.

NASCAR California Auto RaceQ: The contact with the 11, do you feel like that impaired your car at any point?

JPM: No, no, no. I think it hit the corner of the bumper. We were going so slow, it’s just a slow spin.

Q: I know on the last restart you were pushing or you were behind Jeff on that restart. What do you see out of that 48 car that gets that run in? I know you led a ton of laps today, but he led more laps of the do you feel he was the dominant car by far?

JPM: I think when it was cooler I had a better car than him. When it warmed up, he had a better car than me. I think I had the second fastest car. At the last pit stop we made a change in the car, and we lost a bunch of ground. It’s okay. It’s what happens. You’re second, third, fourth, it doesn’t matter. You gamble to try to win the races.

Q: Jimmie said he was actually nervous out there sitting on turn four during the red flag. Thought he might not have enough laps to on pull that out. Curious what each of you were feeling and thinking at that point?

JPM: For me I knew the only way we could do something was making sure the 24 got beside him. But I think, how do you call that? The Speedy Dry.

When I was in turn one I was freaking sideways. It was like I was turned and I was just like trying to hang on to the car. And Jeff was doing the exact same thing. I think the speedy dry hurt us a little bit. But it was fun. He had the fastest car all day.

JEFF GORDON: He chose the inside lane, there was a lot of Speedy Dry up there as Juan Pablo said. Up there in the outside lane I got a perfect restart, and I was right down on the outside of his door. I was hanging right with him, and as soon as we hit that, I slid up and he was able to put the power down a lot better than I was. And I just fell in behind him. I knew at that point we were done.

Q: I was wondering, did you guys see debris during the debris cautions? And if not, how did that disrupt the momentum of the race?

JPM: For me, I never pay attention. Unless they tell me there’s a door or freaking bumper in the middle of the road, I just slow down and, you know. I’m sure there you know the problem I know sometimes it’s frustrating when you’re leading and pulling away and they say debris caution. It could be simple. It could be a screw, you know. And where were we? In Bristol I had a flat tire from a washer, you know, with 20 laps to go. What can you do? Nothing. It is what it is. So I don’t know.

JEFF GORDON: Well said.

Q: I understand what you’re saying about the top 5 still. But let’s say you got ten top 5’s at Homestead
and you don’t win. Would that piss you off?

JPM: No.

Q: So nothing’s going to piss you off?

JPM: If I would have wrecked with the 11 today, I would have said, Well, it happens. It could have happened, and it happened.

We’re doing our best. We’re enjoying ourselves and we’re racing hard. We’ve got great race cars, you know. There were four or five Hendrick cars and us racing today in the front. So to be able to do that is huge.

Q: So as long as you do what you can do

JPM: We’re doing the best we can. If it’s good enough, it’s great. If it’s not, well, move on. There is another year.

The Moderator: Thank you, Juan, good run today.

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