Earlier this week, word got out that Juan Pablo Montoya would not be returning to the No. 42 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing seat in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series next year. At Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich., on Friday, Montoya spoke with the media about his time in NASCAR with EGR and what the future holds. Here is a transcript:
HOW DID THIS WHOLE DECISION COME DOWN? HOW DID YOU FIND OUT?
“Well to be honest with you I think I knew from quite a while ago to be honest with you. They had an option earlier in the year and they didn’t take it so I kind of knew it was going to be something different next year and that’s it. They confirmed it this week and that was it.”
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO DO NEXT YEAR?
“I don’t know. The only thing I said already is I want to be in a winning car. Whatever else I do, don’t know what I’m going to do, but I want to make sure I’m in a winning car. It was a fun seven years with the Target car and Chip (Ganassi) and everything. We worked really hard and we had our up’s our down’s, but at the end of the day I want to win races. He wants to win races and we want to try something different.”
COULD IT BE ANYTHING WITH CHIP (GANASSI) IN INDYCAR OR GRAND-AM?
“It could be with Chip it could be with somebody else. You know with Chip something we said is number one is make sure we keep our friendship. We are really good friends. We have a good relationship and that was it. It’s not that bad.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON SAID IT TAKES FIVE YEARS TO LEARN CUP. AFTER FIVE YEARS IT’S THE MAGIC BETWEEN THE CREW CHIEF AND THE DRIVER. DO YOU THINK WE WILL LOSE YOU OUT OF NASCAR AND HOW MUCH DO YOU THINK IT WAS LEARNING AND HOW MUCH OF IT’S TEAM?
“A lot of it was learning at the beginning, but I thought I picked it up pretty well. I run really well. I made the Chase in my third year. One of the hardest things and I just said it, it’s the amount of changes. There was never any consistency and I think that was one of the hardest things. It wasn’t because they were doing it on purpose they were just trying new things and trying to make things better. The problem is every time you make changes it makes it harder.”
ARE WE GOING TO LOSE YOU OUT OF NASCAR MAYBE?
“I don’t know. As I said the number one priority for me is trying to be in a winning car.”
IS GOING BACK TO INDYCAR IS THAT AN OPTION FOR YOU?
“I don’t know we will see.”
HAVE YOU TALKED TO OTHER NASCAR OWNERS YET?
“Oh ages ago.”
I KNOW YOU HAD TALKED TO SOME IN THE PAST…
“No I mean ages ago this year as well. I’ve been looking at all my options for a while. I wanted to make sure we had the door open to stay at Ganassi if the opportunity was here. I have a really good… a part from the relationship with Target, the relationship with Chevy is really important to me. It’s good. Right now it’s actually fun. As I said yesterday I did an interview yesterday and I said you know I’m really good friends with everybody on this team. They mean the world to me and we’ve still got 14 races to go. I mean we still have a lot of racing to go. Number one thing is to keep enjoying racing and go at it every week.”
WHERE DOES YOUR HEART LAY RIGHT NOW WHAT ARE YOU FEELING INSIDE?
“I mean at the beginning I was really disappointed, but we kind of knew it. From one side you knew it was going to happen, the other side, you know it’s not a bad thing. We wanted to win races and it hasn’t happened. We’ve been close this year, but you know what I mean for one reason or another it hasn’t really happened. I think a change will be good for him. It will be a good change for me. I think it will be fun.”
IN SOME WAYS DOES THIS TAKE SOME PRESSURE OFF FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR TO JUST KIND OF GO OUT AND LET IT HANG OUT NOW?
“Well I kind of do that every week anyway so that doesn’t change.”
ARE YOU LOOKING FOR AN INDYCAR RIDE?
“I have talked to a lot of people put it that way. I don’t want to be specific about anybody. I know some people are interested and I just want to make sure whatever I do as I told you I have an opportunity to win races. I grew up winning and I’ve won at everything. I won some races here, but I miss dominating.”
WHAT DO YOU THINK THE CHANCES ARE YOU WILL BE IN THIS GARAGE NEXT YEAR?
“I don’t know we will see.”
WHY DO YOU SAY CHANGE IS GOOD FOR YOU?
“Well you know what I mean we have been together for seven years and we had our up’s we had our down’s and I don’t know. I think if we keep going and the results don’t come we end up hating each other and it could be worse. We are really good friends. We respect each other as boss and driver and as friends as well. I think we want to make sure we keep it that way.”
DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHY THE DECISION WAS MADE?
“I mean he has made a lot of changes through the years. A lot of changes for him were logical for me were not. It is what it is. He feels we need to do something different and that’s it.”
WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU NEED TO GO TO THE NEXT LEVEL?
“A winning car. We had winning cars here a few weeks and I blew some, they blew some and it’s clicked, but it hasn’t clicked as much as it needs to click.”
DO YOU HAVE ANY POTENTIAL SPONSORS THAT YOU MIGHT BE ABLE TO TAKE TO A TEAM AT THIS POINT?
“No, you know what I mean at the moment I’m just taking my time looking at the options and I want to make sure I make the right decision.”
DO YOU THINK YOU COULD GO TO INDYCAR? IT’S BEEN SUCH A LONG TIME AND TECHNOLOGY HAS CHANGED. YOU NEVER EXPRESSED MUCH INTEREST…
“Well I was committed to NASCAR you know what I mean and when you are committed to NASCAR you want to make sure your head is in NASCAR. My heart always has been in open wheel. I had a lot of fun in NASCAR and you know we will see.”
I JUST WONDER IF THE TECHNOLOGY, IT’S BEEN SUCH A LONG TIME…
“Oh technology in IndyCar is probably not as advanced as it was in Formula 1. You know what I mean… not to worry.”
DO YOU KNOW IF PART OF THIS WAS TARGET OR IF TARGET WAS PART OF THE DECISION?
“I don’t know and I don’t ask you know what I mean. It’s what it is whether it’s Target or Chip (Ganssi) it is what it is.”
WHEN YOU LOOK BACK WILL YOU CONSIDER THIS WHOLE THING A DISAPPOINTMENT?
“Oh no, I had a great seven years. I learned a lot. Whether you believe it or not I became a better race car driver. It’s funny because you know we do the GRAND-AM every year and the more I do this plus my experience in open wheel the better I do. The wiser you become you know what I mean. My speed I believe is the same or better and I’m just a lot wiser making decisions. I think it’s been a good experience.”
WITH THE SIZE OF YOUR FAMILY AND THE AGES THE KIDS ARE NOW WOULD A LIGHTER SCHEDULE PERHAPS INDYCAR BE THE WAY TO GO?
“Number one choice winning car then we will worry about the rest.”
– photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR