Race Weekend Central

Juan Pablo Montoya Reflects on Performance To Date

AVONDALE, Ariz. – Team owner Chip Ganassi, car owner with Felix Sabates for Chip Ganassi Racing, announced on Sunday that a decision would be made this week regarding a possible Cup Series qualifying attempt for Juan Pablo Montoya next week in Homestead: “We’ll see. We’re making the decision this week,” said Ganassi. “We’ll have our post-race review from this weekend and go from there. If we so decide, there is a car entered there.”

In the meantime, fresh off a top-20 finish in Saturday’s Busch Series Arizona Travel 200 at Phoenix International Raceway, Montoya was surprisingly candid in comments made Sunday morning. Never afraid to mince words, the outspoken Colombian spoke out on a number of topics, from thoughts on his own progress to his anticipation of finally getting a shot to race at the Nextel Cup level:

On Saturday’s Busch Series Race

“Yesterday was a bad day. We had a really bad car. We qualified well, but the car in the race was terrible. The car really never came to life. I think everybody else’s got worse than mine and we started making up a little bit of places. I started running the high line through three and four and some guys spun in front of me.

“That was pretty much our day. It was good in a way because we had to learn how to work all day with a really bad car and make it better all day. We really missed it a lot yesterday to where we needed to be with the car, but that was good. Everybody with the Texaco/Havoline Dodge at Ganassi has done a good job for me.

“Do we want to do better? Yeah, we want to do better. Do we need to improve? Yeah, I think when the car is good the speed is there, qualifying is there. It’s just learning how to race. I don’t want to get in trouble with people so early. I want to try to do it the right way, and if it doesn’t work, then you do it the other way.”

On His Progress in NASCAR to This Point

“I’m not racing for points or anything here, and I don’t want to [interfere] with anybody’s championship or anything. I’m out there to learn. When the car is good, I want people to race me clean. When they’re quick, I’ll race them clean at the moment. Next year when it gets down to business, it’ll be a different story. Daytona is all relevant. Daytona is what the car can do. You can win the race or finish 30th and you didn’t even know what happened.

“It’s a bit like Talladega. You’ve just got to have people work with you. I think that’s going to be hard to get people to work with me at the beginning, but that’s why we’ve got two teammates. From what I saw at Talladega, I was shocked that all three guys didn’t work more together. I think we need to do that.”

On Getting His First Cup Start Out of the Way

“I don’t care. It’s just a race. It’s getting in the car and driving it. What’s the big deal? For me the biggest deal, probably more than doing a Cup race, was probably the ARCA race in Talladega, because that was my first stock car race, my first NASCAR style race. It was just a race, get in it, drive the car and see what it does. I think Cup is a lot more give and take than Busch. In Busch people want to prove themselves to be able to get to Cup.

“When you’re in Cup you don’t have to do that. Even in Formula 1 you’ve got to learn to be patient. Here when things are going bad, just ride along and wait for the pit stop. I even told Chip yesterday it was bad the race wasn’t longer. They say the Cup races are harder because they’re longer, but in a way that’s better. You can make a difference. You make the changes wrong, the next pit stop you can just come in and change the car and keep changing the car until it gets better. You need to make sure you’re in that ballpark.”

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