JPM, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Bristol Motor Speedway and discussed racing at Bristol, his season so far and other topics.
JUAN, YOU HAVE DONE PRETTY WELL HERE AT BRISTOL, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT COMING BACK TO THE SHORT TRACK AND THE SEASON IN GENERAL SO FAR? “It’s been cool. I think our season has been……..you know, we had a good Daytona, in Phoenix we sucked really bad but last week was really good. You know we have been trying a lot of things to understand where we need to go with the cars and what to do and I think we are making a lot of progress and everybody is pumped and everybody is working hard to make sure we run good. This is normally a good track for us so I am excited to come out of here with good points.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THE NEW POINTS SYSTEM AND HOW FAR YOU CAN FALL BEHIND WHEN YOU HAVE A BAD DAY AND HOW DO YOU COMPARE IT TO FORMULA ONE POINTS? “I don’t even think about it. The way we look at it is that if you are a 20th place or above in the finishes then you are in the good side of the points and if you finish below 20th, you are on the bad side of the points. So we know that, and our goal is to make sure we stay on the good side. You know, we are going to have good weeks and if we continue to run like we ran last week, then we won’t have to worry much.”
GIVEN THE WAY YOUR TEAM RAN LAST YEAR, DO YOU THINK YOU CAN HAVE STAYING POWER AND STAY THERE THROUGHOUT THE SUMMER?
“I would think so. That’s our goal. Our goal is to…we had a good start and last year we didn’t, and we know what it takes and there is a lot of good races coming that are good races for us so I am pretty pumped up and right now for me it’s all about……….like last week. We thought we had a good car, we didn’t know how good it was. And I told my guys, ‘look, if we get out of here with a top-fifteen, we are good’. But of course we want to do better, but you just got to make sure you bring the car home. I think DNFs are pretty bad right now.”
REGARDING NASCAR, WHAT DO YOU KNOW NOW THAT YOU DIDN’T BEFORE? “I think the hardest thing that I didn’t know was how the top-35 worked at that time. Right now you don’t have as many cars, so it’s not as bad but when I came in you had a lot of good cars going home. So if that was the case, I would have been like, ‘oh, I am not sure I want to do this’. But we had good cars and we did what we had to. You just have to finish the races. It’s all about consistency. It’s incredible. You get on a roll and it just doesn’t stop, it is nice.”
GIVEN YOUR ROADCOURSE BACKGROUND, HOW WAS IT COMING TO BRISTOL AND HOW WOULD YOU RATE IT IN DIFFICULTY? “I will tell you the truth, the first time you come here it’s really hard. Especially when I came here with the old track and it was tough. But once you get in the rhythm it is okay. It’s all about rhythm. I think when they redid the track they improved the track a ton. As a driver it was great for driving and racing and you didn’t have to be on the line and I think the guys that were here from the beginning understood the old track and what it needed and I think they had a huge advantage against the new people like me. Younger guys and newer guys. I think when they redid it, it reset the ballgame.”
CAN YOU GIVE US MORE DETAILS ON BRISTOL AND HOW CRAZY IT GETS DURING THE RACE? “The thing is that it’s so different than anything that you have seen before. The place, the size and from the driving side you don’t have any time on the straights. You come out of the corner and you are going into the next one, and so on. Especially at the beginning. In the beginning you don’t even have time to look at the gauges. Everything simplifies the more you do it.”
DO YOU FEEL YOU HAVE A NEW ATTITUDE ABOUT FINISHING RACES THIS YEAR? “Last year was a big wake-up call for us. 2009 we ran where we could run and we made the Chase and then last year by race five we had three DNFs. And when you look at it, and you have put yourself in such a big hole, you never come out of it. So this year, we knew what we had to do and we are doing it. We are running a little bit smarter and trying to make better choices. You know, in Phoenix we thought we made the right changes with the car, but we didn’t and we learned from it. As long as we keep learning from it and making ourselves better, that is all we can do.”
REGARDING THE ROLE THAT CONFIDENCE PLAYS IN EVERYTHING FOR YOU? “I think every person takes it a different way and everybody wonders if they are doing a good enough job sometimes but you do what you can. The way I look at it is that everybody here has two arms, two legs; one head, two eyes, and they go out there and drive. If they can do it, you can do it. That is the way I look at it. Some people have cars that are better than other and cars that are a lot better to you than someone else and what you have to do is make sure your car is comfortable to you.
I think being in a small organization sometimes helps so you can really focus on what you need. You know when you are in a big organization, they are like ‘oh, this guy is winning and is running this, and you have to run this’, and if you can’t drive that setup you are never going to drive good.”
BECAUSE OF THE DNF’S LAST YEAR, AND HOW FAR YOU WERE BEHIND, HOW DID THAT IMPACT HOW YOU GUYS DID THINGS OR HOW YOU DROVE? “I always put myself under the gun to make sure I perform 100%. But last year the thing that put us behind last year was that we were involved in a lot of wrecks that weren’t our fault and we had a lot of problems and things. And when we were running fifth we tried things to get more points and we went from finishing fifth to 15th or 20th or even worse and created another DNF. You have to take what it gives you and that is all you can do. We learned that from last year and this year I think we are doing a good job with what we have to do. With this sport you get to the point where the car will give you what it gives you and you can get a little more for three laps but it would cost you the next 15. There is always a fine balance and you have to see how far you can and when you go too far, it will bite you and it did last year to us.”