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November 10, 2009

Juan Pablo Montoya

HERB BRANHAM: Welcome to this morning's NASCAR teleconference in advance of the ninth race in the 2009 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Coming up Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway, the Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 presented by Pennzoil.
Our guest today, Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the No. 42 Target Chevrolet. He's sixth in the current point standings and in the Chase for the first time since coming to NASCAR.
Juan, you have two races to go. What is the outlook for moving up in the final standings over these last two races? If you can give us a quick overview on that in English and then Spanish, then we'll go to the media for questions.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Yeah, it's been a great season. It's been a great Chase. We've just been involved in too many accidents, you know. I see two of them not even being our fault. You can understand the Talladega one. We had Mark Martin run over us in Charlotte. And last week, you know, carl ran really close to me, took the air out of the car, and I just got really loose.
You know, he came later and apologized and everything. But it just happens. It's what racing is all about.
But overall it's nice to see how good the performance of our cars are, you know. To be honest with you, we didn't have a great car over the weekend. But even like that we were running fifth, sixth place. And even with a car that was pretty bad balance-wise, we had a good chance to finish in the Top 5 again and scoring great points. So we'll see.

Q. On the heels of the double file restarts that NASCAR added this year, they've certainly added excitement. But given how boring some fans still think the single car qualifying is, and considering you've done both Formula 1 and NASCAR qualifying, do you think that given the right officiating and, you know, the right circumstances that the Formula 1 open knockout style qualifying could work in NASCAR?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: No. Come on. I think what we've got is great. I think the qualifying is great because there's no excuses. If you look at a Formula 1 qualifying and you hear interviews after, oh, this guy got in the way. And that guy got in my way. And I had a great lap but somebody blocked me, and this blocked me and that happened.
If you go to a different qualifying, the only thing you're going to hear is excuses. I tell you the truth, I think people that complain about a NASCAR race they haven't watched anything else of motor racing. Honestly, if you don't like what you're seeing, you shouldn't be seeing it because it's the greatest racing you can have in any Motorsport scene. It doesn't get any better than this, I'll tell you the truth.
I've been in Formula 1. I've been in IndyCars, I've been in Cart. I've been in you name it, Grand Am. And the best racing is right here. I'm not saying this because I'm here. I'm saying this because I've lived all of them, and nothing compares to this.
I don't get it. You know, I understand maybe complaining a lot of times. The Talladega race with people being very conservative and then a huge wreck. But if you go to Talladega, you can expect that. It's not something new. I don't know why people complain about it when the racing is so good.
Like last week was good racing. You know, it was a blast. A lot of things happened, so it's very -- I don't understand when people complain about things like that.

Q. How important is it for you to maintain continuity into next year regarding continuity of your team as it is set up now, and also regarding organization and technical level? I mean how important is this to maintain or improve the results you have achieved this year?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Well, for us that is mostly what we have been doing. That is the key to the future of this team, more so for next year than for this past one. Keeping the development and quality of this year's team will be the key for the future.

Q. At the beginning of the year it was apparent that a pilot like (indiscernible) was a favorite for the title. He won 9 races the previous year. Didn't win any this year, but that was before he was in Chase. What is necessary to maintain the drive and transfer performance from one year to the next?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Well that's a tough question. It depends a lot on the work that is done during the winter. I mean depends on the people here in the United States that work during the months of December and January. This is the time in between seasons. This time is very important because it is key to being positioned for the following year. It is key to achieve a good level and to be well prepared. It is also important to have good cars, good engines and good things. I think this is the key.

Q. Before the Chase in New York during the press conferences you said you think your team was close to being a championship team, but you weren't sure. Now that you've had a pretty good chase. I think five Top 5 finishes, just look ahead to next year. Do you feel you'll be one of the top contenders?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I guarantee a lot of people are going to be asking me. Now you're going to come here, and this is going to be the year you have to win the championship when we get to Daytona, people are going to be asking that. This is exactly the same question they just asked me a minute ago.
The key for our team is to be able to match the performance that we have this year next year. Of course we want to win races, and of course we want to do better. But if we can match what we did this year, I think the whole team is going to settle as a top team, and I think that's the key.

Q. You've adapted to stock cars, sponsorships, and now media, too, like Twitter. What do you like most about Twitter? And do you enjoy new challenges of any kind or is it just new ways to race and communicate that excite you?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: You know, the racing is really cool. I'll tell you, I'm very glad to have Target as a sponsor. It's a great sponsor, a great company. They really look after the driver. It's awesome. You know, racing for Chip and Target, it's an awesome experience for that side. It was when I was here ten years ago and it is now.
The Twitter thing, I think it's a cool thing to give the fans a little bit more. I know a lot of Hispanics complain because I only type in English. But I say, come on, 90% of the people, if not more, speaks English. You know what I mean? And 90% of the people speaks English don't speak Spanish. So I figure if I do it in English, I can cover both grounds. Of course they want to hear in their own language and stuff.
But if you start Twittering in Spanish and English, you spend so much time Tweeting that, you know what I mean, you stop actually thinking, you know what, I don't want to do this. So I figured if I just do it in English, people can actually understand what I'm saying as well in Spanish.

Q. With this experience with the chase, you hear drivers talk about kind of the stepped up pressure or the intensity of it. Is there a way to compare what this chase experience has been like with what you've gone through in other forms of racing? Is it really that much more intense? Or is it just like, you know, some other forms of racing?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I don't know. It's intense, but it's -- I don't know if I'm just used to it, and I know what it takes. You know, the good thing with being in ten races, you're either in it or you're out of it. There's no middle ground.
We were in it at the beginning, and I feel now that we're out of it. I think the weekend would have changed that if we had a good result, but we didn't.
Right now we're 230-something points away from Jimmie with two races to go. So the chances of being in it are very slim to none. You know, it's what it is. I know we wanted to have better results and we'll work very hard to finish a little better. But I think as a team we've done a great thing this year.

Q. Also want to ask you about your involvement with RC airplanes. My understanding is it is something that you got involved with this year as well as the last year. Can you just kind of talk about that? Is that as much as anything a good way to kind of get away from the bubble of the racing world at times?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Well, I do, I'll tell you. I was playing a lot of golf this year. I played that much golf than I normally did. And RC airplanes I used to do years ago. I picked it up again. I picked up wind surfing, something I used to do years ago.
It's just fun. It's relaxing. I love working on the planes. I spend a lot of time in my warehouse building and fixing and figuring out how you're going to run this and how you're going to do that. It works good. It's a good balance. A good compromise, and it works really well.

Q. How good of a pilot are you with those?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: A decent one. I'm not going to say I could go out and compete. But I fly them, I land them, I do things with them, fly them upside down. I'm just getting into Jets. And I do a decent job with the jet. I like them.

Q. Getting back to the stock car qualifying. I was referring just to on qualifying, not racing. I think everybody thinks the racing is exciting and I agree with them. We're specifically referring to just the qualifying. Just the single car qualifying as other posed to the knockout style?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I tell you, if you go to a knockout style, somebody would always complain that they didn't have a good enough lap or a clean enough lap or the track wasn't good. It's very easy if you have maybe in a road course to have a knockout qualifying. But on an oval, you would have to allow the 43 cars or 48 cars or 50 cars that show up every week to go out on the track at the same time.
And everybody would like to be the last car running on the racetrack, because it's when the track is going to be the best. You wouldn't be able to fit all of them.

Q. I'm not going to ask you about Danica Patrick questions and whether she can do it. There is a certain amount that draws females and draws males at the same time when you have a pretty girl that is very talented and driven. Do you think that Danica is going to bring or are you aware or do you think the public is aware of what's going to happen if she succeeds?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I think you're going to have a lot of traditional NASCAR fans hoping she doesn't. That the good old boys show them how it's done. But at the same time, you're going to have a huge amount of people hoping she does well.
From my personal opinion as another driver, I hope she does well if she decides to come. And if I can help her in any way, I would. It's simple, come and ask a question, I'll give you an answer. But it's easier said than done, like I always said, you know.
So I would think it would be cool if she comes. And if she does well, I think she would love the sport. I think the sport is also the racing, but it's not easy.
HERB BRANHAM: Juan, thank you so much for taking time out to join us today and best of luck at Phoenix and Homestead as you try to get back up there a little higher in the standings.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Thank you very much.

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