Phoenix, AZ. Montoya — Friday media visit

Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Phoenix International Raceway and discussed racing at Phoenix, the season to date, upcoming Texas race, driving injured and other topics.

TALK ABOUT RACING AT PHOENIX: «It is always a good place. It is always hard to pass here. Track position is always key here. For us, at this point, we want to start finishing some races. We have been having such bad luck that it is hard. Out of six races we have had four pretty much DNF, you know, 30-something place finishes. It makes it hard for points. We have fast race cars every week and we should be good here.»

ARE YOU GLAD THERE IS A LONG STRETCH OF RACES NOW, NO MORE OFF WEEKENDS? «It is always hard because you kind of start getting a rhythm and then you stop, then two races and stop. You never really get in a rhythm. Now this stretch of races is really important for us so it will be good.»

DO YOU THINK THE EXTRA LAPS HERE WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE? «You go to a track, whether it is 500 laps or 200 laps or 400 or whatever it is, it is what it is. You get in the car and you drive, work on the car. You are still going to have 50 to go or 100 to go. It is fine.»


SIX RACES IN, WHAT WOULD YOU GRADE YOURSELF AND THE TEAM? «We are a top-five team, easily. We run in the top-five every week. We’re there. Always one of the fastest cars in practice, qualifying even at race pace. But, we had blown tires last week, the week before, something else happened, they wrecked in front of us. The week before we had a good week. There is always something. Blown motors. Everything that can go wrong has gone wrong so far. Hopefully it will change a little in the next few weeks.»

WHEN YOU ARE IN THE CAR AND YOU HAVE AN INJURY, HOW DOES IT CHANGE YOUR STYLE? «I was injured when I was in Formula One with my shoulder and a couple of injections solved the problem. It’s bad afterwards, but during it is fine.»

THE DISAPPOINTING FINISHES, DO YOU JUST SHAKE IT OFF, DOES IT BOTHER YOU? DOES THE FACT YOU ARE RUNNING GOOD HELP? «It sucks because we should be top-five in points if we would have finished every race. We are, I don’t know, 20-something, I don’t even know where we are in points to be honest. I don’t even look. Whether I look or not doesn’t matter, it sucks. The bright side is it sucks not because we are slow; it sucks because we have had a lot of issues. I think both cars have the potential still to be in the Chase. It is still very early. I think last year it would have been harder because we were finishing like 10th or 12th every week. Now we have cars that can finish in the top-five and I think if you can do that, you can a gain a lot of points pretty fast.»


AT WHAT POINT DO YOU START PAYING ATTENTION TO THAT? «I think it is going to get to a point you either know you are in it or you are out of it. You take it race-by-race, score as many points as you can and see what happens. It is completely out of our control. We come here and they wreck and we have nowhere to go. We haven’t really made a mistake ourselves to say, this one is on us yet. I don’t feel we have. It can happen and that would really set us even further back.»

TALK ABOUT THE SUN YOU WILL HAVE IN YOUR FACE DURING QUALIFYING HERE TODAY: «It is the same every year you come here. It is not something that you never experience and then all of a sudden you have. You have it here, we had it in Atlanta. It sucks, but everybody goes through it and nobody complains. We run a lot of tape on the windshield to help it a little and that is it.»

IS TEXAS GOING TO BE THE TRUE TEST FOR THE SPOILER? «I even forgot we had a spoiler, to tell you the truth. (LAUGHS) Yes. We have tested already. Here it will affect things a little more than Martinsville. It will handle a little bit different. But, yes, I think Texas is going to give us a little bit better perspective of where we are.»

OK, YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE YOU ARE IN POINTS, YOU DON’T KNOW ABOUT THE SPOILER, WHAT… «I know we’re bad because we are on this side of the garage and that really sucks. (LAUGHS)» SO WHAT ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION TO? «The focus is running well. Focus is making sure we have a good handling car. It is good on long runs. We have good brakes. As long as we do that and we make good race calls and everything goes well, the results should be there. But when five cars wreck in front of you and you can’t stop and you tangle with them, what do you do? That, or you blow tires. At Martinsville we blew four tires. We never have problems there. I completed every lap there except one until this time. We were running 10th when it started happening. It sucks.»

WHAT ARE THE KEYS TO SUCCESS AT ATLANTA? «Good race car to tell you the truth. I think track position is key. It is not as dramatic as Atlanta where you have to run all the way against the wall. You can do it a lot more in three and four than in one and two. It will be pretty interesting.

IS TALLADEGA A SCARY RACE TRACK TO YOU? «NO! No, not really. I think it is fun. I think every year it gets harder because the track gets slicker. When the track was paved for the first time, you could run so hard. You could hit people and things. Now they start hitting you and you start getting sideways. It is going to be pretty interesting. We didn’t go to the test because we didn’t think we could find too much. I don’t think they know yet what they are going to run for the spoiler and restrictor and stuff so we will see.»

HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE FOR THE RACE FANS WHAT IT IS LIKE BEHIND THE WHEEL AT TALLADEGA? «Most of the time it is pretty calm but when it is really time to go, it gets really hairy. It is four-wide, five-wide, it is like you are squeezing just to go through things. It is hard because you want to keep your foot in it to stay in the draft so it is pretty interesting.»

HOW DO YOU THINK THE SPOILER WILL AFFECT YOU HERE AT PHOENIX? «It will affect it a little. I think it might affect a little more in three and four than one and two because they are a little faster. It will be interesting to see. Martinsville is hard to compare, but it will interesting. Hopefully racing is better and we will see what happens.»

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