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A Conversation With ... Juan Pablo Montoya & Chip Ganassi

MODERATOR: We're now joined in the infield Media Center by the pole sitter for the Brickyard 400, the driver of the No. 42 Target Chevrolet, Juan Pablo Montoya. Juan, if you could first in English and then in Spanish tell us about your lap.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: It was a good lap. I think in (Turn) 2, I got a little bit tight and I had to brake a little bit coming off, but I don't think it was a major deal. I don't think I made up any time, but I don't think I really lost much of a lap time there. Everywhere else was pretty good. I thought it was a good lap. The car has been pretty good. You know, we came here and tested and when we got off the truck, it was good; put it in the truck, it was good; brought it here, was good. So just got to make sure, you know, like Chip says, do everything right tomorrow and see what happens.

MODERATOR: If you could, also in Spanish, please.

MONTOYA: (Answers in Spanish).

MODERATOR: We're also joined by team owner Chip Ganassi. Chip, obviously Indy is a special place for you. You've been here several times here this year already, your thoughts about the 42 on the pole and coming back to Indy?

CHIP GANASSI: I'll tell you, it's a pretty special thing to come back here each year. You know, this is where racing started and where obviously where my career got jump-started, if you will. Good performance today by the team and the driver. Boy, I saw how everybody was saying how hot it was going to get and it seemed like it was cooling off a little bit with the clouds coming over.
I think like Juan said, we tested good here. We came off the truck good, showing up for this weekend and, you know, to be honest with you, if we weren't up near the front, I would have been pretty disappointed because we were up there during the test and in the practice session. So we'll see what happens tomorrow. You know, it's a long day and we have a lot of things we have to do yet. You know, this is just one step in a long flight of steep stairs for the weekend.

MODERATOR: We'll now open it up to questions from the media.

Q: Chip, is there any other racetrack that you hold in the same esteem as this one? 

GANASSI: You know, I don't -- like I said, Jenna, I got my career started here. I mean, Daytona has been pretty good to us over the years. I mean, I don't look at it in terms of tracks that are good or bad to us. I think when you start doing that, you're going to feel jinxed or something when you get there, and I don't worry too much about that stuff. So I like coming here. I mean, I think the fans are great here. The fans are great, the people that own the track here have maintained a lot of tradition over the years. And, you know, it's one of the places you can go in the country that you're well-respected to be in this business in this city. That's what makes it special. So I hope that answers your question.

Q: Is there any place you would rather win other than here?

GANASSI: No, I don't know. I haven't thought about that much. I'm sorry. A lot of places, yeah, I'd like to win, you know, but certainly winning here would be good, sure.

Q: Juan, last year you were so disciplined and determined to stick to the plan, and it paid off for you down the stretch. This year, given where you are in the points, do you feel more urgency to just go for it and throw caution to the wind or are you still trying to stick to a plan?

MONTOYA: Well, it's hard. We had so many problems earlier in the season, and we lost so many points that to make them up; you can't really stick to a plan. You've got to try to score more points, and more things wrong came. It's just been the season. We had a lot faster cars, both of us, Jamie and myself had really good cars. And I think both cars had ability to be in the Chase, and neither of us are in the Chase. So it's hard for the team, and I think Jamie might still have a shot at it; I think I'm completely out of it. I think it's a good lesson to learn that it doesn't matter how fast you are, you have to execute and do all the things right, and we haven't this year. We have to be smart about it. I think it's a good lesson for the whole team to prepare ourselves for next year. I think it's going to push everybody a little bit forward and make sure we've got faster cars and do a better job in the pits and myself do a better job, and just everybody.

Q: Juan, last year your car was unbelievably fast when you were in the lead, but then when you got put back in the field, it was tough getting past anyone else. Is that something you can concentrate on this afternoon or is that something you were able to look at yesterday?

MONTOYA: It's traffic, always happens here. That's why everybody makes such a big effort for qualifying. You know, you go to like Chicago or somewhere else like where we were last week or where we're going next week, you know qualifying is important, but you can pass people. Passing here is a lot tougher than normal. I think track position is big and, you know, the pit stop selection is big here. So we have that and just got to, you know, execute right and see what happens. You know, if we have clean air, it's great. If we're in dirty air we've got to find a way to make the car work and go based on that. The ideal, you know, you've get in the lead and lead every lap and go home happy. But to be realistic, one bad restart or one bad pit stop or anything, it puts you a little bit behind and you've got to find a way to pass people and you've got to be smart about it.

Q: Juan, everybody knows that last year you had the dominant car in the race until the pit stop mishap. Coming into this year have you taken time to practice pit road speed during practice and are you going to set your --

MONTOYA: No, it's the same thing. We looked at it, we understand what happened. You know, I mean, I think we were just too close to the limit. Just back it down a little bit like, you know, 40 or 50, and that's it and move on. There's nothing you can do about it.

Q: Why do you have such success at this track? What do you remember about the first time that you turned laps here at Indianapolis?

MONTOYA: Nothing. Honestly, I don't. I really don't. (Laughter) I remember I got in it and when I got up to speed, I thought: “Oh, man, these are really 90-degree corners. They said it's supposed to be wide open, so you've got to try it.” Yeah, it was wide open. We had a good car, we won the race. It was great. This is very different. It was funny because you know when we did that Jeff Gordon swap here? They wanted to run the oval, and I said, "There's no way in hell I am going to drive the oval in a Cup car," and here I am on pole. (Laughter)

Q: Why didn't you want to run it?

MONTOYA: Because I hadn't driven an oval for like four years, never driven one of these cars, and it would have been a shock. If I had any recollection of what you had to do here, it was like, you know, an Indy car; they run wide open the whole time. Here you're braking, lifting, twitching, moving. Hell, no. (Laughter)

Q: Juan, let me follow up on something you just said. Since coming over to restrictor plate racing, is there some adjustment that you can share with us that you haven't been able to master yet in this kind of racing?

MONTOYA: No, not really. You know, we, I think restrictor plate racing for us is really good. You look at last Daytona, we were running really fast; Talladega

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