Texas (Fort Worth, TX). Montoya — Friday media visit

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JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET DREAM AND COLOR IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Texas Motor Speedway and discussed his goals for the final three races, what has been the most difficult part of this season, the impact of the Earnhardt-Ganassi merger and more.

WITH THREE TO GO REFLECT BACK ON THE PROGRESS YOUR RACE TEAM HAS MADE AND WHAT YOU WANT TO TRY TO ACHIEVE IN THESE FINAL THREE RACES. «It’s hard to know exactly what you want. It would be nice if we could get a win out of these three races. We’ve worked really hard all year. I don’t know. We’ll see what happens. Overall I think it’s been a great season. If you sit down and look back a year ago where we were in points and where everything was going and where we are right now, I’d say it’s been a great season. I think we learned a lot. I think we’re a lot better than what anybody expected. Not only that we made the Chase but right now we’re not far from the Hendrick cars. We’re the only car running up there with them and that is great to see so I’m pretty happy about that.»

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO YOU TO HAVE A TEAMMATE NEXT SEASON? «I don’t know. You’ve got to ask Chip (Ganassi). I think somebody is going to be driving the car. I don’t know who is going to be driving the car. I don’t really ask that. I concentrate on what I’ve got to do myself. If Chip has a question or if he wants my opinion I’ll give it to him, otherwise he runs the team and I drive the car. You don’t want to get too involved in all kinds of things. I think we have enough going on our side to worry about who is going to drive the No. 1 car. I’m sure it will be somebody.»

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED ABOUT THE RACING WITH RUNNING UP FRONT A LOT MORE THIS SEASON? «When you run up front people have really good race cars and get to the front easier. If you make a change and it doesn’t work you’re confident enough that your car is good enough that you can give people a little more room. When you are running like 18th or 20th you’re at the point if it goes green for a long time you can get a lot so you’ve got to get going all the time and it’s a little harder. Just a different perspective.»

WHAT HAS BEEN THE HARDEST PART OF THE YEAR? «I don’t know. I think the harder thing and our weakest thing so far is making adjustments during the race and making sure we’re doing the right adjustments. We’ve gotten a lot better at it. During practice when you’ve got a lot of time to talk to Bryan (Pattie, crew chief) and we sit down and I think the car is doing this and it’s doing that and I need this and a little of that, so he gets really good feedback exactly what we need to do. If you look at it, 80 percent of the races we probably have always the fastest car this side of the races, by the end of the race we’re probably like third or fourth best. I don’t know if we start too good or if we don’t have much room for improvement and everybody else does. I think that’s our weakest thing right there.»

I’M SURE THERE ARE PEOPLE IN HERE THAT DO NOT DREAM IN COLOR, WHAT CAN YOU DO FOR THEM? «I think it’s a great campaign because it reflects and it shows people it doesn’t matter where you’re from or what you do. I know its Hispanic Heritage month and everything but it really shows people that you can achieve anything. I’ve done it and I know a lot of people that have been in the program. If you want something and you work hard enough for it you can do it. It doesn’t matter where you are from or how you got there. It’s a really cool thing Target is doing.»


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DO YOU LOOK AT NEXT SEASON AND SAY OKAY MAYBE WE’RE THROUGH THIS LEARNING PROCESS, WE’VE REALLY GOT A SHOT TO WIN SOME RACES NEXT YEAR? «I think if you sit down today with Bryan or if you sit down today and say what do we need to do next year, what have we missed? We missed winning races because we started too far behind and to close the gap is really hard. So you think you have to win races. And if you win races by the time you get to the Chase you should be in the top-five in points, that would be something that you should aim at. At the same time you can start next year and run 15th and you don’t even know what hit you. We know what we did, we know how hard we had to work over the winter last year to get where we were and to stay here we’re going to have to keep doing the same and Bryan understands it and everybody in the shop does. Hopefully we can keep improving and give ourselves a shot at winning races next year. That would be nice.»

HOW DO YOU BALANCE MAKING IT LOOK EASY ON THE TRACK AND BEING AGGRESSIVE? «It’s funny, everybody always says I’m aggressive. I don’t see myself that aggressive. Honestly I don’t think I drive aggressive. I don’t like being pushed around, I don’t think anybody does. That’s about it. I do what I have to.»

COULD YOU ADDRESS WHAT SORT OF IMPACT THE EARNHARDT-GANASSI MERGER HAS HAD ON THE PERFORMANCE THIS YEAR AND WHAT IMPACT THE MANUFACTURER SWITCH HAS HAD ON OVERALL IMPROVEMENT OF THE TEAM? «To tell you the truth I think it’s the whole package. You can say we ran this good because we went to a Chevy or we ran this good because we got together with them. It’s kind of weird because the start of the year by the time we were still bonding, we were running better than them but it’s hard to point at one thing. I think it’s the whole package. You know last year in a Dodge we were running pretty decent as well at the end of last year so I don’t know. I think it’s just everything is coming together really well and I think that’s the key. You know we have the same motors that Childress has and I know they’ve started to pick it up again but they’ve had an awful season. We run the same motors they do. So I don’t think you can point at one thing or another.»

IS THERE ANYTHING GOING INTO NEXT SEASON WHEN YOU ENTER INTO THE CHASE THAT YOU GUYS WOULD STRATEGIZE ON HOW TO BEAT JIMMIE JOHNSON OR IS IT MORE THAT YOU JUST FOCUS ON WHAT YOU’VE GOT TO DO? «You’ve got to run good every week. When Jimmie was running in the back he came in for four tires and stopped to be safe on fuel and everything and 80 percent of the field had to come in. By the time everything cycled around he was in the top-10 when he restarted and he was running about 25th. So a lot of things have gone his way. I think we’ve been pretty close at his pace we’re just a little bit behind and we finish behind him every freaking week. It’s not like we’re losing a million points but you keep losing 10 here, five there and eight there and seven there. We started 30 or 40 points behind him, it adds up. We had two really bad weeks, when Mark got behind us in the restart at Charlotte and the wreck last week. You might have one and get away with it, but two? Come on.»

IS THERE ANYTHING TO THE IDEA THAT JIMMIE JOHNSON SORT OF RUNS HIS OWN STRATEGY AND PEOPLE ARE SORT OF REACTING TO WHAT HE DOES? «I don’t. It’s simple if you want to win this you’ve got to win races and you’ve got to beat everybody whether his name is Jimmie or Jeff or Mark, I don’t care.»


YOU WOULD NOT TAKE THIS CAR TO EITHER ABU DHABI OR SHANGHAI? WOULD IT WORK AT ALL? «I wouldn’t take it to a road course at all to be honest. I’ve driven race cars like Formula One on road courses and open wheels on road courses. This is fun on an oval. This is not much fun on a road course personally. It’s kind of weird. I know a lot of people love road courses because it’s different from what you do all year and from a perspective its fun and the racing is cool but these cars really shine on an oval. Places like here or Atlanta or Miami.»

BUT WE HAVE TO RUN ROAD COURSES, WHAT WOULD YOU SUGGEST WE DO TO MAKE IT MORE FUN FOR YOU GUYS TO RUN ROAD COURSES? «Take about 2,000 pounds out of the car and add another 2,000 pounds of down force and they’ll drive really well on the road course.»

TALK ABOUT YOUR PERFORMANCE AT ATLANTA, YOU’VE DONE REALLY WELL HOW DO YOU TAKE THAT EXPERIENCE AND TRANSLATE IT INTO SUCCESS HERE AND BEING ABLE TO RUN TOP-FIVE AND POSSIBLY PULL OFF A WIN HERE? «We always run good here. In Nationwide we qualified decent. We’ve always been pretty decent here. At the beginning of this year we were not that good in the race here and we still finished like sixth or seventh. We were close but I think since our cars have improved a lot so it’s hard to tell what is going to happen. I hope we can go out there and win the race to be honest. Here you can run against the fence and make up good ground especially in (turns) three and four and I’m learning to run the bottom so it’s good. That’s something I suck at normally.»

WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO BREAK THROUGH AND FINALLY GET THAT WIN? «It’s crazy. You look at our first season and it was horrible. It really wasn’t horrible but we only had one top-five and then we won in Sonoma and everything. Since then our performance hasn’t been that great and through that year our performance wasn’t that great but we still won a race. Our performance is getting better and we’re getting closer hopefully it’s just a matter of time. How many top-fives do you have to run until you win a freaking race? You know, hopefully.»

IT’S BEEN ABOUT 20 RACES SINCE THE DOUBLE-FILE RESTART RULES CHANGES, STATISTICALLY LOOKING AT IT THE NUMBER OF LEAD CHANGES ARE ABOUT THE SAME AS LAST YEAR. «That’s cool. I love them. I think they’re great. I think it’s great for this sport. It sucks when you’re the leader and you have a bad restart or something happens but overall I think it’s awesome. It really shows people a lot better racing. The leader always still has an advantage because he has the jump on everybody but everybody else, you could be running third and finish seventh or you can go from seventh to third. So it always makes it a lot more exciting and you’re not dealing with the lap-down cars.»


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