Juan Pablo Montoya has vowed to raise his game after clinching a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup for the first time in his NASCAR career.
Despite finishing a lowly 19th place at Richmond on Saturday he became the first non-American driver to make it through to the Chase.
Although it was a major achievement Montoya refused to celebrate as he talked about the weekend just gone.
“It’s weird,” said Montoya. “We work all year for this and today we run pretty conservative, pits were pretty slow but we did what we had do to get in. It’s kind of weird, because I should be really pumped up and excited and right now I’m just thinking about [how] we need to run better every week.”
“We are pretty close. We have been pretty good every week. So, I don’t know. We’ll see. I think three races into the Chase, you’ll know where you are and see what happens.”
Montoya’s consistent top 10 finishes have helped him secure the Chase spot as he’s still to secure a win this year.
“I think right now, it’s anybody’s game,” said Montoya. “I think you’ve got to finish every race. I think a bad result is going to be a 10th place if you want to win the championship and a good result is going to be like the last couple of weeks for us that we’ve been fighting for wins. That’s the only way to do it.
“The initial plan is to do the same thing we are doing, maybe a little more aggressive on changes. Like we had a good car but fell way behind on the changes. Tried one side, go back and changed it and that didn’t work there so we just kept falling back but that’s okay.”
Chip Ganassi was pleased with his teams first shot at the Sprint Cup title since the Chase format was introduced.
“This is a big thing,” Ganassi said. “The first year of the Chase they used to take 10 cars and we finished 11th. The second year they took 10, we finished 12th. So this obviously means a lot and we’re really happy.”
“We’ve been through a lot with Juan and there’s nobody on the planet I’d rather have driving our car and he knows that. That’s what this team is built upon.”
“We’ve worked hard to get to this point but obviously the goal has to change now. We have to get after it now. It’s a new race; you reset everything and start from ground zero again. Anything is possible and we’ve seen that before. I have my money on [Juan].”
Montoya starts the Chase for the Sprint Cup in 11th position, just 40 points behind current leader Mark Martin.