NASCAR Media Conference
Juan Pablo Montoya
March 3, 2008
THE MODERATOR: We will start off with our first guest, Juan Pablo Montoya.
Juan, if you could just give you a brief update on how your morning went so far.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I think pretty good. We run probably 20, 25 laps straight, couple different things in the car, trying to understand where we need to go with the car and make some changes.
But generally it's been a pretty good morning. We ran pretty good in the morning. Right now the track is a little slicker than when we started, so just trying to catch up a little bit.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions.
Q. How do you like the track out here in Phoenix, racing out here?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: It's pretty challenging because it's one of the few tracks that actually both corners are completely different. To actually make the car work is one of the hardest tracks. Most of the ovals, both ends are pretty similar. Where here, there's nothing common with one corner and the other. Turn one and two is pretty banked and tight where three and four is flatter and wider.
It makes us work really hard to make sure we can get a decent car on both ends.
Q. Talk about the 24 hours turning around from Vegas to here. Good run in Vegas.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Yeah, it was weird because we tested there and we were so strong in the test. It was actually very disappointing from the beginning of the test. We crashed the car on Friday, not even up to speed. We run half decent on Saturday. And on Sunday we actually started really bad. We went a lap down really fast. We were always in the back of the line. We actually came into the pits, we were making camber changes, you know, big changes where you normally wouldn't do that in the race.
I told them, If we want to get any better, we going to go there. And we did. It was a little late, but we actually managed to get back into the lead lap and pass a couple of guys. So from what looked to be a 35th-place car, we brought it all the way to a top 20, so it was pretty good.
Q. Hard turning it back around from Vegas to here, short period.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Not really. I think it's harder on the guys. They work all weekend so hard. For us, yes, we raced yesterday, it was a little hard. But you just get here, you just drive the racecar, so it's not so bad.
Q. Looking back at Las Vegas, you along with a bunch of other cars had problems finding the wall. Was that a setup issue or was that the Goodyear tires or a combination of both?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Normally there's a lot of grip out there. Race day was a little better. But the first two days, especially when it was hotter, there's just no grip. You know, when you have no grip, you start having a lot of issues.
Our car worked really well when he had had a lot of grip. When we had little grip, we would really struggled. It was a combination of everything, you know. The tire seemed to be very edgy. But, you know, we didn't really have any tire issues, to tell you the truth, in our cars. It was just more lack of grip. And it was a real handful.
Q. Are you finding the same thing at Phoenix?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Here is pretty good. Here it's about normal. We ran pretty good this morning. As it gets hotter, always gets slicker. But that's pretty normal.
I think what's good about where we're testing now, the weather is a little bit more similar than when we run normally. I think that's going to help it.
Q. When the race starts here, it's daylight. It ends at night. Is there a big transition from day to night here?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: It starts at 5:00. Yes, it does changes a little bit, but it's not as bad as you'd think. Like right now, whatever we practice right now is not really going to simulate the race. We trying a lot of basic things right now. We going to wait till the evening to really try a lot of things specific for the racetrack.
Q. How big a factor do you think age plays in a driver being able to race in the Sprint Cup? Do you think an 18-year-old is too young to be driving in the series?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: It's hard to say. I think racing, the age is not such a big deal as the amount of experience the guy has. You know, if the guy is 18 and run two years in Busch and a year in the Truck or something or whatever, you think he's got enough experience. I don't know.
I think whatever it is, it's on the NASCAR judgment to make that decision. You know, you never really see any of the series race such a young drivers on the top of the series. You know, I think like when I won the IndyCar championship, the CART championship in 1999, I think I was the youngest guy there and I was like 24 years old. I think it's a big difference.
Q. Do you think maturity plays a factor at all in decision making on the track?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Yeah, I think, you know, you just -- with time and more things you become a wiser driver. You understand what's some risks worth taking and what's not. I think when you're younger, you go for anything.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Thank you.
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