Juan Pablo Montoya and his Earnhardt Ganassi Racing team-mate Jamie McMurray have settled their on-track incident from last weekend at Las Vegas, but the Colombian believes it has put him in a difficult situation in the points standings.
Speaking at a media event in Bogota, Colombia, where he will be taking part in his own celebrity pro-am golf tournament, Montoya revealed he and McMurray have vowed to put the incident behind them, while admitting his initial reaction just voiced his frustration about the crash, which followed his first DNF of the season a week earlier at Fontana.
“[McMurray] said I’m sorry and I said OK,” said Montoya when asked about what his team-mate told him after the race. “In the moment I was really angry about what happened because last week we had an engine failure and then to lose a bunch of points again is not good for the championship. We need a lot of points now.
“Daytona is one of those races where you expect anything to happen and we finished that one OK, but then we expected two normal weekends [at Fontana and Las Vegas] and they weren’t. Now we need to recover from that.”
The Colombian said McMurray texted him following the race, and he replied accepting his team-mate’s apology despite still being frustrated, as he believes a top-five finish last Sunday was possible for both of them.
“He send me a text message saying ‘Hey I’m sorry, I’m sure you’re mad at me, you want me to call you and talk through things’ and I said ‘Don’t worry, it happened, yes I was real mad, but let’s move forward’,” Montoya said.
“It’s frustrating because your team-mate is the guy you’ve got to race the smartest. You have to give each other a lot of respect because you don’t want to end up in a bad situation like last Sunday. He was running well and so was I. We were running in the top ten and were competitive and we both threw a top-five finish out the window.”
Montoya now ranks 26th in the points standings, already 127 points behind 12th place, in what is statistically his worst start to a season since his debut year in 2007. The Colombian says it is still very early in the season to panic, but admits it will probably be harder for him to secure a place in the Chase this year.
“The goal we had with the team this year was trying to be safe into the Chase before Richmond,” Montoya said. “We wanted to avoid being on the edge of being in or out coming to the final race before the cut. But looking at the amount points we’re behind right now, I would say it’s not impossible but it’s definitely going to be harder.
“We’re only three races into the first 26, and I think if we can have four or five good races and we can finish in the top ten and get some good points, then things can change very quickly. But you never know. If I blow a tyre and hit the wall at Atlanta, then it can get worse.”
While Montoya is set to face a tough challenge recovering from two bad weekends in a row, McMurray currently ranks 15th in the standings, having lost ten places in the rankings due to his 34th place finish last Sunday.