An interview with: JUAN PABLO MONTOYA
HERB BRANHAM: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to today’s NASCAR cam video teleconference. We’re in advance of Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, one of the NASCAR’s true major events, the Coca-Cola 600.
Our special guest today is the driver of the No. 42 Target Chevy, Juan Pablo Montoya. Juan comes into the 600 19th in the standings, looking to move up.
Juan, to start off, obviously be a good time to get a little bit of a rally as you and your team look ahead to try to make the Chase. What do you think the chances are to get that rally going this weekend in the 600?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I’ll be honest with you, we were only 50 points out going into Dover and we had a failure on the rear of both cars. Really hurt us. We lost about 60 or 70 points more than where we were because we were actually looking pretty good there.
We seemed to have cars to run top five nearly every week. You know, races are running out, so we definitely have to have good results the next few weeks. Hopefully what we do is good enough to get us where we need to be.
HERB BRANHAM: Thanks for that opener. We’ll go to the media now for questions for today’s guest, Juan Pablo Montoya.
Q: Looking at the 600, you have run well enough on the mile-and-a-half racetracks to win. Is the 100 miles extra in this race a chance to continue to excel or is it a chance for more things to go wrong? Also there’s a $20 million bonus being dangled. With your success at Indianapolis, with your career building very well in NASCAR, how much interest would you have in attempting that, considering Earnhardt Ganassi would be one of the teams with the best shot at it?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: The first question, you know, there’s always more challenge to improve the car. I know it’s a 600-mile race. There’s more chances of things going wrong. You don’t think about it when you’re in the car, you just run, keep working on the car to make sure when it counts, you have a really good racecar.
Last year we had one of the fastest cars in the 600. It was cut short. Some people pitted. We had a car that was capable of running the race and didn’t even get a top five out of it. That was one of those racing deals.
So I don’t know. I think the chances are good, but we’ll see what happens.
The other one, to be honest with you, I don’t know. Not thinking about it too much at the moment. I heard some rumors about it. I haven’t really heard officially it’s going to happen. As you said, as a team, we would probably have one of the better chances, but I don’t know. I don’t even think about it right now, to be honest.
Q: This being a marathon of a race, the longest race of the year, is there anything you do personally to physically prepare for this, mentally, that kind of thing?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: No. You know, we run so many 500-mile races, an extra hundred, it’s not that bad. It will be 60 more laps, 50 more laps, maybe just a run of fuel. No, I think at that point you just run.
For me, I think harder than this is probably the Darlington race. The 500 miles in Darlington I think is a little bit harder than here. But that’s what it is.
Q: You will be at Pocono next week. The first two years in your career you struggled a little bit there, bad fortune last two years ago. Talk about what kind of things you learned about Pocono the first two years that enabled you to have some success there last year?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: To be honest with you, my opinion, more than anything it’s been racecars. You know, our equipment has improved so much over the years that a lot of results have come in places we struggled. I haven’t really thought that I’ve driven the car any different. We tested there before, compared with teammates and stuff. We found a little more speed in our cars, allowed us to perform better. That’s all there is to it.
Q: Juan, most of the drivers with the double week race in the Charlotte area, most of the drivers live in the area, yet you live in Miami. Do you think you miss out on anything or do you think maybe it’s kind of good because you get to get away from all that stuff and do something different?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I think the people that live here, like peep that run IndyCars live in Indy. When I ran IndyCars for Chip, I live in Miami. I used to go a lot to the shops. When I was in Formula One, they once told me, You need to stop coming here so often. I said, Why? He said, People would rather talk to you than work. Since then, I realized I didn’t have to be there as much.
Most of the things can be done over a computer or a phone call. Once the season starts, the team is so busy, I mean, there’s not really much to do here. If I need Brian, I can just call him and talk to him. That’s it. It’s pretty simple.
Q: When the finale happens, you’re home, though. You don’t have to stay in a hotel in the Miami area. Do you think that gives you an advantage for that race?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Not really. I actually stay in my motorhome. Every race I go, I stay in my motorhome. I live downtown Miami. If you think about it, Homestead is still like a 45-minute drive with traffic. I’d rather just stay where I am.
Q: Your teammate Jamie McMurray has definitely seemed to be running stronger this season than earlier in his career last few years. Has he helped your team overall become stronger, as well?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I think overall it’s great to have two cars running as good as they’re running. I think Jamie has done a really good job. I don’t think he was ever comfortable in a Roush car. When you talk to him how the cars were and things, you know, when you have so many drivers, unless you’re the number one, two or three driver, then you’re going to have a problem.
I think us with a smaller team, smaller organization, works really well. There’s a lot of focus on making sure both cars run well, to build really good racecars. It works pretty well. I got to say I’m really happy how he’s running, how we’re running as a company. It’s exciting.
Q: This is a potential huge weekend for Chip Ganassi. From someone on the inside, how do you see him, a pretty intense guy, dealing with the intensity of this weekend, something that we may not notice?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I guess I haven’t noticed either (laughter). He was kind of in front of the camera five minutes ago saying, Hi, in an interesting way. Put it that way. He seems okay.
You know, I think it’s been done over the years so many times, I think — I don’t think there’s anxiety. I think you just go out there the way you can. You’re as well prepared as you can be here and there. You just go out there and run and see. If you do a better job than anybody else, you’re going to take a trophy home. If you don’t, then you got to go back and look why you didn’t.
Q: Do you think Chip is a classic example of an owner who puts the best people in place and stands back and lets you do your jobs?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Sometimes he does that. Sometimes you need him to push more people. It just depends how everything is running, how everything is running smooth. I think the Indy program is running smooth. He’s been around that program long enough that it’s very stable.
I think the NASCAR program was a little more unstable. He needs to be more hands on and he’s done it, so it’s pretty nice to see.
HERB BRANHAM: Thanks to Juan. Much appreciated your time today. Best of luck in the Coca-Cola 600.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Thank you very much.