JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET IMPALA SS met with media and discussed upcoming season finale at Homestead, goals for final two races of year, team consistency, and more.
THE MODERATOR: We’re joined in the infield media center by Juan Pablo Montoya, currently sixth in points. Juan, thoughts on coming to race this weekend here in Phoenix?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: You know, it’s a cool place. Over the years, normally get decent results here, not that great. I think you can’t really go and say that’s a comparison, because everywhere we’ve been lately we seem to run really good.
I think we just got to keep doing what we doing every week. Hopefully we can have a clean day again. Last couple of weeks have been kind of rough for us. But it’s okay. Overall the team keeps doing an amazing job, brings good racecars, good motors. Can’t complain.
THE MODERATOR: We’ll take questions from the media.
Q. Juan, want to get your thoughts on running a flat track as opposed to a banked track at Homestead next week. Do you have a preference?
JPM: I enjoy more the mile-and-a-half’s because you can run anywhere. Here, when the race goes on, you can move to the second groove. The bottom is the primary groove. Some of the mile-and-a-half’s, you’re starting to get that. As it cools down, tires live a little longer, you can stay on the bottom for longer. But I just enjoy more a little faster, to be honest. This one is actually kind of a tricky racetrack, because you can run the apron in a lot of places, make up a lot of lap time with it. It’s always fun.
Q. It was only about three years ago that you started your first race at Miami. Have you had a chance to think about next week when you go there, three short years, look how far you’ve come?
JPM: To be honest with you, no, I don’t think about things like that. But it’s been fun because I can tell you it doesn’t feel like three years. You know, it feels like we started doing this yesterday. It’s been I would say a great three years. Made a lot of progress with the team, everybody involved with the program. It’s been exciting. It’s been exciting. I think the key now is to try to keep that momentum going for next year. I think if we can do that, we’ll be looking pretty decent.
Q. Juan, assuming Jimmie goes on to win his fourth straight championship, you’ve raced in a lot of different series, seen a lot of different people accomplish great things, what would that mean to you, to see somebody do something like that?
JPM: Uhm, I don’t know. I think, you know, as a team, they’re doing an amazing job. They got everything together. You know, when it comes to the Chase, they’ve run really well every week.
You know, I know they had one bad week, but a lot of us have more than one bad week. It’s still very open. But, I don’t know, I think if they do good for them I guess. You know, they deserve it. They’ve done everything they had to do to win every single one of them. We move on to the next one, I guess.
Q. With the way that the last few weeks have gone for you, now being out of title contention, how do you view these two weeks? Are you trying to get a win? Are you testing for next year?
JPM: No, we are trying to, you know, run as good as we can every week. It doesn’t matter whether we’re in contention or not. We got to try to finish as high as we can, high in points.
It’s been cool because, I’ll be honest with you, last week our car sucked. I thought we sucked, and we were running fifth. If we can do that and have a good-handling car, you know, when it sucks, fifth, we’re going to give ourselves plenty of chances to try to win some races. It would be nice to try to get a win this year. It’s been a great year otherwise. I couldn’t really ask for more. I think anybody that looked at us at the beginning of the year, they thought we were going to have a horrible year. I believed in them, they believed in me, and we really pulled together.
Q. Of the two tracks, where do you think you have a better chance of winning?
JPM: At the beginning of the year here, we ran pretty good here. We had a speeding violation here. That kind of killed our chances. But we had like a fifth- or sixth-place car. I’m hoping here we’re going to have a little better car and see what happens.
Miami, same thing, we ran about eighth to 10th. Last time we were running like fifth, had to come in for fuel. This year with the Chevy, we’re getting a lot better fuel mileage. That goes a long way.
Q. Juan, as somebody who went through the crew chief change you went through last year, when you look at the 48 team, same crew chief over this championship run, the last few years, same car chief, engineer, they’ve had a few changes, but a lot of the core guys are the same. Can you appreciate and talk about your feelings about keeping a group together, what that can mean in helping the driver perform?
JPM: I think consistency’s very important here. You know, the cars change a lot. But I think if the crew chief really understands what the driver needs and wants, it really helps out. They had a great run again this year. You know, they didn’t really look as strong as they normally do. You know, beginning of the Chase, everybody was wondering if they even were going to be in contention. You know, they started getting wins, second place, stuff like that, when it really mattered.
It is what it is. You know, they had strong racecars and they used them well.
Q. Of the premiere series you’ve raced in, which do you think is the toughest or most difficult grind to win a title and why?
JPM: I think all of them are hard. I don’t think there’s one where you say, This one is a little easier. This one, it’s a little different because, you know, it doesn’t matter how good you run the first 26 races, you look at Tony, Tony killed everybody in the pre-season or whatever you want to call it, pre Chase, during the normal season, he had everybody covered in points. The Chase started, and he’s, what, fifth in points or something, fourth. I don’t know where he is, but he’s completely out of the championship.
It’s crazy, but it’s what it is. You know, this is a little different from anything I’ve done before. But I think it’s great for the fans. It makes it exciting, you know, because we do so many races, by the time the Chase starts, somebody normally has so much in the points lead that it kind of changes everything.
THE MODERATOR: Juan, thank you. Good luck this weekend.
JPM: Thank you.
credit: gm racing