Daytona 500: Montoya — Friday media visit

Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Daytona International Speedway and discussed the two-car draft and expectations for Daytona 500, overheating issues, changes to Phoenix and other topics.

WHERE DO YOU WANT TO BE AT THE END OF THE RACE TO HAVE A SHOT AT THE WIN? «With the restrictor plate, you have got to give yourself a chance. First of all you have to put yourself in that position, I thought we did yesterday. We got screwed with that green-white-checkered. It goes both ways. As good as it could be being in the lead, being in second can be very useful. It all depends on how you make the move. Is anybody else coming? Do you have your teammate in front of you and a group along side of you? You have to push your teammate to the line. It is a hard judgement call.»

ARE YOU PRACTICING TODAY? «No, we aren’t doing anything today. We will run tomorrow a little bit. These races are really hard on the engines so the less you do is better.»

IS IT A RISK VERSUS REWARDS THING? «I thought we were pretty what we did in practice yesterday. I believe the rules are staying the same. We are comfortable.»

CAN YOU COMPARE MICHAEL SCHUMACHER TO JIMMIE JOHNSON IN THEIR ACCOMPLISHMENTS? «They are different. Different series, different things. I think they are both great. I don’t really care in particular for either, you know what I mean? I am here to do my job, not cheer for somebody else.»

DO YOU THINK JIMMIE’S WAS MORE DIFFICULT? «I think both are as hard, you know. I wouldn’t put one on top of the other.»

DID YOU LEARN WHO YOU WILL OR WILL NOT DRAFT WITH YESTERDAY? «Normally when you have a good car and we do, everybody is happy to draft with you. It is harder when you car is not as competitive as it needs to be. Right now we have really good cars. They are really good pushers and they run strong and people are normally pretty happy.»

DID YOU WATCH THE SECOND DUEL AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN? Yes I did. Just seeing what works and what doesn’t. Moves and things. I recorded both Duels, I will probably watch both of them tonight just to make sure I am well prepared for the race.»

Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images
HOW IS IT THAT YOU COME UP WITH PEOPLE TO WORK WITH? You push. Honestly, that is the way you do it. We restarted with the 27 in front and we were fourth. He never backed up to my bumper and by the time he decided to come to my bumper, we were at the back of the back. We regrouped. I looked for a guy and was patient to be comfortable with the guy I was going to push. We got Kasey Kahne in front of me and I was happy to push him. We pushed and pulled away for the big pack and got to the leaders and ran all day with him. We did really good swaps and at the end, we could run our car a little bit hot and it was really good.»

DID YOU HAVE AN AGREEMENT AHEAD OF TIME WITH ANYONE? «I’ll tell you, I talked to a lot of the guys. I was really looking forward to working with Kurt Busch to tell you the truth. He pulled in front of me and I was being pushed by the No. 29 (Kevin Harvick) so I was kind of screwed. I actually went on the radio and apologized to the No. 22 because I was being pushed by somebody else right now. I felt like we worked with Kasey really well all day. On that last restart, I thought the smartest thing to do was to just keep doing the same thing. I thought it was ok. I think we were screwed by being the front pair but that is the way racing goes.»

COMING DOWN TO THE FINISH LINE, WHERE DO YOU WANT TO BE? «Both races the guy in the front won. It is hard to know, and I think the 500 is going to be different because you are going to have double the packs. You had what, four or five packs per race, now you are going to have 10 packs of twos. Ten packs of twos, three wide, there is nowhere to go. It is going to be hard. You are going to have to be patient. The pit stops are going to be a key factor. Working well in the pits making sure you come together, make sure you come out pushing. I think that goes along way.»

DO YOU THINK WE WILL SEE A LOT OF BLOWN MOTORS BECAUSE IT WILL BE SO CROWDED GUYS CAN’T SWITCH? «Occasionally we switched running two wide. One dropped to the middle. It worked ok. It’s not ideal but you have to do it. It is going to be harder with 43 cars. You either unplug yourself and wait and see where you can swap, by the time you are done with that, you are going to lose four seconds. It is all about timing. You have to remember it is 500 miles. It isn’t 120 miles, it is 500. I think you have to be calm. You have to take you time. You don’t want to get the car too hot too early. We’ll see.»

DID NASCAR REACT TO THIS QUICK ENOUGH? «How do you react? If you look at Talladega last year, the race was decided the same way. The first one was the same thing. It is what it is. It is the way the bumpers line up. It is what we got. I think they are good changes to make it harder to stay together. I think in the Shootout the people had the equipment, we didn’t, but the people that had the right equipment could stay locked on all the time and not even come out of their bumper. That was crazy. Right now it seems that the Fords are the best car for a pusher because they don’t have a heating problem. At least it seems that way. They changed everything they could change. They closed the grill opening. I think in more traffic, you are going to get less air the guy in front is not going to cool down as well. I think it is going to be a little be different in the 500.»

Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images
WHAT IS YOUR IMPRESION OF THE CHANGES THEY ARE GOING TO BE MADE TO PHOENIX? «I haven’t seen the proposal. I have heard they are going to change the two corners, turns three and four. I don’t know how much banking they are going to put in it. Hopefully they don’t screw it up. I drive where ever they take us. I’m a big fan of some tracks, not a big fan of others. Right now Phoenix is a cool place. It is really tricky. Both ends are very different. They are probably looking for better racing or something different. They were always pretty exciting there I thought.»

HOW CROWDED IS THAT PHOENIX FRONT STRETCH. IT SEEMS LIKE IT IS SO TIGHT, THERE IS NO WHERE TO GO IF THERE IS A PROBLEM? «That happens in about 80% of places we go to. It does, doesn’t it? Richmond, you have the same issue. New Hampshire you have the same issue. Bristol, Dover, Martinsville and I just listed half the season already.»

ON THOSE EXCHANGES, YOU PRACTICE WITH YOUR TEAMMATE, DURING THE RACE HOW MUCH TRUST IS THERE WITH OTHER DRIVERS THAT THEY KNOW HOW TO DO IT AS WELL AS YOU DO? «It depends on who you pick. You hope the person you pick is smart enough and good enough to get the job done. Especially early in the race you have to have somebody who knows exactly what the plan. What we did with Kahne as soon as we got together, I told my spotter to make sure he talked to Kahne to make sure he knows what we are doing and how we have been doing it and it has been working so make sure he does the same thing. We did it and it worked flawlessly.»

DANICA (PATRICK) AND SAID SHE DOESN’T HAVE A REAL FIRM COMMITMENT TO EITHER/OR NASCAR OR INDYCAR. IS THAT POSSIBLE? «I admire what she is doing. But seriously it is way harder than just doing one. The cars are so different. I did the Rolex 24 Hours and I got back in these cars the first time and it was whew, what the heck happened? I think she wants to do it. She just wants to make sure that she is good enough to do it. I think she has the talent to do it. But Dario (Franchitti) struggled when he came here and he has the talent to do it and he struggled. It is not as easy as people think.»

SO WHEN YOU CAME HERE YOU KNEW YOU HAD TO GO ALL IN? «Yea. I went all in. I said, what the heck. Some places it took a little time and some it didn’t. To really get up on how the whole season works here, yea, it takes awhile. But I knew it would.»

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