JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Martinsville Speedway and discussed racing at Martinsville, if he has changed his goals after a tough week last week, getting advice from other drivers and more.
MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY, WHAT DO YOU THINK? «Great. It’s okay. It’s a very different race track. It’s really, really slow. It’s kind of weird. If you look at our average it’s supposed to be my best race track but I think we’ve only got like one top-10. We just run decent every time we’re here. I’ll be looking forward to trying to run well here. There are a couple of race tracks where I think we are still missing a little bit of patience. Richmond is one of them and this one as well. The numbers, sometimes you look at where we qualify and what we do, look pretty good but I don’t think they act right. I don’t know, we’re always like an average, decent car here. We never really had a great car here. You look at everywhere we’ve been and look at my numbers and they look horrible and we run great. I don’t really care to tell you the truth.»
YOU SIZE UP OTHER DRIVERS, YOU KNOW HOW TO AGGRAVATE THEM, I THINK ITS TIME TO RATTLE JIMMIE JOHNSON’S CAGE, HOW WOULD YOU RATTLE JIMMIE JOHNSON’S CAGE? «I don’t know whether he has or he hasn’t. I don’t really care. You’ve got to worry about what you’re doing not what everybody else is doing. I think people keep worrying about what he is doing and as long as you keep worrying about what he’s doing you’re not doing your job properly.»
HOW WOULD YOU RATTLE HIS CAGE THOUGH? «You can go out and win the next six races and you will rattle anybody. Otherwise what’s the point? I think for us right now after our bad week last week, we’re going to have fun, we’re going to run harder and see what happens. I wouldn’t really care.»
I JUST DON’T GET THE I DON’T CARE PART. «We came here, we made the Chase and we’ve been competitive, we had a bad week. You’ve got to look at the positives. The positives were we probably had the second fastest car last week. I would say the No. 11 (Denny Hamlin) had a faster car than us. Apart from that nobody had a faster car than us. Neither the No. 11 or myself had a good week. What can you do? We lost a ton of points, you move on. We come here and we’re ourselves and do the best we can. Anything we do is a bonus. If I came here to defend the title and that happened last week I’d probably about kill myself but right now hey we lost some points we can still come back and have good results. If we don’t we’ve got to learn from it. It’s all about learning. Was it our fault? No. Was it anybody’s fault? I don’t think so. Was Mark Martin at fault because he ran into the back of me? No. We all checked up and he didn’t slow down fast enough and its part of racing. I’m good with it. It could happen to anybody.»
YOU’RE NOT SAYING I DON’T CARE WHAT HAPPENS, YOU’RE SAYING I DON’T CARE ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED LAST WEEK. «I don’t care what happened last weekend. Whether we have a good week here or not, it’s not going to change anything. We’ve got to run as hard as we can. If we run great it’s going to be awesome and we’re finally going to run good in Martinsville. If we don’t we’re going to go back and see why we’re not fast here when we’ve been fast everywhere. It’s all about learning. The way you guys with the media you always look at what happened last week and what’s going on this week. I look at the bigger picture. I look at what’s going to happen two years down the road. You know you’ve got to look at two years down the road, where we are, what we’ve achieved and why we missed. So we know next time when it comes down to it, make sure you don’t get on the gas, make sure nobody gets on the gas. The things that you’ve got to put in your head and you’ve got to learn when it’s time to go and when it’s not time to go. I don’t know what happened last week. I didn’t even look at it. Whether you look at it or not it’s not going to change anything. They all checked up. We all checked up and that was it. It was very early on for an accident like that to happen.»
YOU MADE A DRAMATIC COMEBACK HERE, YOU GOT DOWN, YOU CAME BACK. «Actually I was talking to Brian (Pattie, crew chief) and Billy (??, engineer) this morning and asking because I get notes every week for the next race and I was looking at them and we were running like 23rd or something and I said what happened? They said no the car was just horrible. We always finish decent here but we never have a great car. I’ll be excited to try to have a good car here.»
DO YOU KIND OF CHANGE YOUR GOALS AFTER WHAT HAPPENED LAST WEEK? «It’s the same thing we’ve been doing. Have fun, run hard, make sure everybody sees that Target car running hard and up front and see what happens. If we can go out and win some races that would be awesome. I think we’re way overdue but as I say that it could take a year before I win a freaking race so I don’t know.»
WHAT TAKES A DRIVER TO BE QUICK AROUND HERE? «I would love to know that. This place is hard because it’s always a tough balance between how much the car turns through the center of the corner and how much traction you’ve got off the corner. If you can have a car that turns well and puts the power down good you can have a chance of winning this. Last time we were here on Friday we were really fast because the car turned through the center, you could get on the gas. By the time race came we couldn’t turn through the center and it wouldn’t put the power down so what do you do?»
YOU SAID LAST WEEK THAT YOU COULDN’T JUST PLUG YOURSELF OR ANYBODY ELSE INTO A HENDRICK CAR AND EXPECT TO AUTOMATICALLY BE GOOD, SO DOES THAT MEAN JIMMIE JOHNSON IS THE BEST DRIVER OUT HERE RIGHT NOW? «I think he’s been around with the same crew chief and the same people so long that they understand what needs to be done. For some reason and it’s kind of weird, you look at them before the Chase and they were not that competitive. You couldn’t say they were not trying so they have something. They’ve figured something out.»
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED WITH YOUR IMPROVEMENT THIS YEAR AND THE TEAM’S IMPROVEMENT THIS YEAR THAT YOU NEED TO DO FOR NEXT YEAR TO KEEP MOVING FORWARD? «A fast car always makes your life easy. Honestly, having good race cars it makes your life so much easier and right now we’re building such a good race cars its making me look really good so I don’t mind.»
JIMMIE JOHNSON WAS TALKING A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO ABOUT AT CALIFORNIA WHEN YOU WERE CHASING HIM DOWN THAT HE KIND OF CHANGED HIS LINE, LET YOU GET BY, BACKED OFF AND THEN WATCHED YOU DO YOUR LINE, SAID HE KIND OF LEARNED SOME THINGS WATCHING HOW YOU WENT ONCE YOU PULLED AWAY, WHAT ARE THINGS THAT YOU SEE AND WHO ARE THE GUYS YOU’VE PICKED UP THE MOST FROM? «No, you don’t. I ask Mark Martin a lot of questions and he helps me out a lot. Whatever I need and it’s very helpful. On the race track, whoever is doing something different you’ve got to see how they are doing it and how they are making it work, anybody from the front of the grid to the back of the grid. For example, Robby Gordon is one of the best cars to run against the wall. He runs high. He really understands it and you can always learn from him. If you want to run against the fence you better look at that guy. It doesn’t mean the guy has to be really fast to learn something. You’ve just got to pay attention to what they’re doing and how are they doing it.»
WAS IT AN ADJUSTMENT FOR YOU WHEN YOU INITIALLY CAME OVER HERE TO TALK TO DRIVERS AND GET INFORMATION BASED OFF OF OTHER RACING SERIES, A LOT OF PEOPLE SAY WHY WOULD ONE GUY WANT TO HELP ANOTHER? «Yeah, it makes no sense. It’s crazy but he does and he helps. There’s something great about this sport. People are really open about it. Once you’re on the race track you are by yourself. You’re on your own. Off the race track you can go to anybody and they’ll help you. That is great to see.»
SO IT SURPRISED YOU THE FIRST TIME YOU REACHED OUT? «Yeah, I was surprised. The first person that did it was Kevin Harvick. We were testing in Miami for that first Cup race and there was an open test there and he came down and said you’ve got to try to do this. I didn’t even go to him, he came to me and said you’ve got to go a little deeper and do a little of this and a little of that. I was like, are you kidding me? You actually came here to help me? It’s crazy because in Formula One if you see somebody doing something wrong you probably actually enjoy it and don’t help them. You would. You would get a kick out of it. It’s great, it’s great to see that. That people are that open about it but when you’re on the race track it’s time for business. That is cool to see.»
ARE YOU A TOP-12 TEAM, CAN YOU START THE SEASON KNOWING YOU’RE GOING TO MAKE THE CHASE AND THEREFORE YOU CAN EXPERIMENT A LITTLE BIT, THAT’S THE REASON JIMMIE JOHNSON IS SO GOOD HE ONLY HAS TO RACE 10 RACES? «I don’t think he’s (Jimmie Johnson) is only racing 10 races to be honest. I think they are being very good every week and that really helps them out. If we can start next season the way we are running right now we’re going to be probably in the top-five in points when the Chase comes around.»
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