JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Talladega Superspeedway and discussed racing at Talladega Superspeedway, his season to date, working with his spotter and other topics.
TALK ABOUT YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THIS WEEKEND AT TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY: «It’s really quiet for most of the day, then, it gets really out of control the last 30 laps. It is always exciting. It is always, it is all about picking the right people to be line with. It is key to have fast cars in your line and people that are willing to push and go to the front. It is important to be with people that aren’t going to do anything crazy, I would say stupid. I think that you just, it gets out of hand pretty easy here and there is always a fine line on how far you can go. Since I have been here, this place (Talladega Superspeedway) was paved the first time I came here in the ARCA car, I remember. Since then, you could always like hit people, all the way through the corner you could push them. Now we have got to a point you touch somebody in corner, it is starting to get sideways now. It is a little bit different now. I think the cool weather will help.»
WILL YOU RACE ANY DIFFERENTLY HERE NOW THAT YOU ARE IN THE CHASE AND DO YOU SEE THIS AS THE LAST CHANCE TO STOP JIMMIE (JOHNSON)? «I don’t know, to be honest with you, I think Jimmie is doing his thing, we are doing our thing. You can only do the best you can, we are doing the best we can every week. We just think about what we have got to do. Here you have got to run, try to lead maybe a lap early to get the bonus points. Just put yourself in a good position and look after the car all day for the end of the race.»
IS BLOCKING AN ISSUE HERE? «For me, it is not an issue; it is just part of racing. I never heard anybody complain about blocking. Most of the time when somebody blocks here, something bigger happens. When you block in an open wheel car, the guy behind you needs to lift, here, when you block, it is a little bit different.»
LOOKING AHEAD TO PHOENIX, CAN YOU EXPLAIN HOW YOU APPROACH THAT TRACK? «It is pretty interesting because, it is one of the few tracks where both corners are very different. It makes it interesting and pretty hard to set up the race car. If you can get a good race car there, it is key. Last time we were there, we had a pretty good car and we had a speeding violation. So hopefully this time, we can have a clean day there.»
WE HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING YOUR CHASE WITH YOUR SPOTTER, TAB BOYD IS FROM THE GULF COAST AREA, I ASKED HIM THIS QUESTION, HOW CAN A GUY FROM THIS PART OF THE COUNTRY WITH A VERY DISTINCT DIALECT COMMUNICATES WITH YOU IN THE RACE CAR WITH THE DIFFERENCES IN THE ACCENTS, HOW DO THE TWO BLEND? «You would be surprised when you hear him on the radio; you couldn’t tell he is from anywhere. He is like a robot. His voice is very clean and very clear and he makes it really easy. It is a very unique voice and it is actually a pretty cool voice. He is always very steady. We have a very good relationship and we understand each other really well on the radio. It makes life really easy. When I need something, he knows what I want. We understand each other very well. We’ve been working together for three years now.»
THE COMMENT THAT BOB GRIESE MADE ABOUT YOU, HE HAS BEEN SUSPENDED FOR THE COMMENT, DO YOU HAVE ANY THOUGHTS ABOUT IT? «It is not my responsibility and it is not our sport. It is completely out of my hands. I never paid attention to the comment and I as I said, I didn’t really care. If they wanted to suspend him for what he did, it is their problem. I don’t think it is either NASCAR or myself. I was good with it.»
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT HOW THE RACE AT MARTINSVILLE WENT LAST WEEK? WAS IT MORE AGGRESSIVE OUT THERE? «Well, you do what you have to. It is always a fine balance. A lot of people don’t mind pushing people around, but they hate it when they get pushed around. It is always the same dilemma. You have got to give people room. The cleaner they race you, the cleaner you are going to race them. When they don’t, you won’t. It is simple. Sometimes, there has to be a line drawn there and say these things need to stop and it did.»
IT IS MIND BOGGLING THAT A GUY CAN FINISH FOURTH OR BETTER FIVE TIMES IN SIX RACES AND LOSE POINTS. «We lost 100 and something points in one week when we finished 35th and he (Jimmie Johnson) so that didn’t help it. It is kind of frustrating to finish second and third, fourth…thirds and fourths and have those results and lose points. It really shows you have to win races. We are getting closer. It is hard because at the end of the race especially in short tracks, track position is so important. My pit crew has done a really good job. It was kind of weird last week. I even commented on the radio, I don’t get it how we pull beside the No. 48 out of the pits and all of a sudden he accelerates faster and he was still under the speed limit. I didn’t get that, but it’s ok.»
HAVE YOU HAD A CHANCE TO SPEAK TO JEFF GORDON, BECAUSE YOU SAID SOME THINGS ABOUT HIS DRIVING AND YOU WEREN’T HAPPY WITH HOW HE GOT A RESTART AT CHARLOTTE, SO THERE IS NO PROBLEM BETWEEN YOU AND JEFF? ‘No! At the time, he started racing me really hard and can do the same. If he wants to race hard, I can race hard. I have done that all my life, so I am good with that. Why you do it, I don’t get it, but, I’ve been pushed around, moved around and try to give them room, then he’ll give you room and he doesn’t. At the end of the race, he came and got inside of me, we never touched, I gave him enough room. After about three laps side-by-side, I said he is faster than me and I needed to let him go. And then he let me go afterwards. It is ok. Problem solved. What are you going to talk about it? Are we going to kiss and make up? No, we’re not. We are big boys here, we understand each other.»
IF YOU SIT DOWN WITH YOUR TEAM AND SEE HOW WELL YOU HAVE DONE THIS YEAR, WHAT IS MISSING? CAN YOU PUT YOUR FINGER ON ANYTHING THAT WOULD MAKE YOU MORE COMPETITIVE WITH THE NO. 48? «Do we need to be more competitive? I think we are there every week. We have probably been the closest car to be competitive against the No. 48 and I think if we didn’t have that problem in Charlotte, we could have been pretty close in points. But, ifs and buts don’t count. If you could get 10 points for every if, and 20 points for every but, it would be a lot different. But, you don’t. You look at what this team has accomplished, everybody says you need to have a four-car team, big this and a big that and a big thing. We have shown that you just have hard working and determined people to get the job done and we have got all that.»
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