Interview: Juan Pablo Montoya

For the low down on Montoya's crash at Daytona, click here.

Juan Pablo Montoya has been driving in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for five years, but he is still mostly thought of as a Formula One and CART driver. Born 36 years ago in Bogota, Colombia, Montoya began driving go-karts at age 6. He moved to the Formula Renault Series in 1992 and to Formula One in 1997.

Montoya came to Earnhardt Ganassi Racing in 1999. He made four NASCAR Nationwide Series starts in 2006 before making his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut. His best season in the Spring Cup Series was 2008 when he finished eighth in championship points.

Last season he finished 21st in series points, a 13-point drop in driver rating from 2010. In 2011 Montoya was still running at the finish of all 36 races he entered. He had a total of two top-five finishes and eight top-10 finishes, his least since 2008.

Montoya met with members of the media at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 16. Following is the transcript.

Q: There are considerable changes this year at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. Are you charged up? Is this going to be the best year ever?

Juan Pablo Montoya: Well, there have been a lot of changes; it has been a very interesting off season for us. I think the road crew changed like 90% of, engineering, back in the shop changed, there are a lot of really good changes. I don’t want to go out and say “Oh” but they have done a great job with the car. The car seems to be pretty fast, pace has been OK. I don’t know…have to wait and see. I think Daytona will not tell us much, it never does. We have done a good amount of testing, I think we have prepared ourselves the best we could and see what happens. We go to Phoenix and start seeing how good and how much we have evolved over the winter, I know we have made some numbers and things. We have evolved a lot and I think we are going to be way more competitive, but we will wait and see, we need to be.

Q: What do you want to see that would give you better results?

JPM: Faster race cars. I think our car was so far behind last year that it is hard to perform. It does not matter who you put in a car, when the car doesn’t perform, it doesn’t perform. It was a frustrating year, but in a way it was good because a lot of the changes were needed and Chip (Gannassi, car owner) really got into making sure we had the best we could. It is interesting.