Despite finishing third at the first race of the Chase at New Hampshire, Juan Pablo Montoya remains upbeat.
The Colombian lead the most laps in the race after staring from pole position setting a new lap record along the way and finishing top of the tables in every practice session over the weekend.
“We started really good, really strong,” said Montoya. “Like the first 30 laps or 40 laps of the run, we were the fastest car, then it seemed to go away; we just got really tight. Tried to work on it, couldn’t really do too much.
“At the end we took four tires pretty late. I thought, ooh, not the right call, P11, P12, and then we restarted at P9 or P10 or something like that. I passed a ton of cars every restart, like three or four cars every restart, and I got to Mark [Martin]. “
“I thought I had him. I was running beside him, I was like, I think I’m losing power but I think I can get enough just to the line. He cleared me coming out of [Turn] 4, and then when he went to 1 and 2 he just stopped on the bottom.
“It’s okay. I didn’t expect that. I was expecting him to run pretty hard. He just ran very defensively, and I just got caught by surprise.”
Although he didn’t win in a race that he had a great chance to, Montoya was happy with third place.
“If you go back to like 30 laps from the end and you look and see us running 12th and being able to pick up 11 places or 10 places in, I don’t know, 20 laps, I wouldn’t be pissed off. I’m more than happy. I thought, man, I’m running 12th and I see Kurt and Denny and the 48, the 5 ahead of me, the 24. I’m like, this sucks.
“And all of a sudden it’s like boom, boom, boom. I had two good restarts. That’s all it takes. We were very good on the restarts. We’re all out here. There’s no prisoners. We’re not taking any prisoners.”
Montoya remains positive heading in to the second race of the Chase, sitting in fourth place in the ranks, the highest he’s ever been in the Sprint Cup standings.
“I mean, what’s the pressure? We made the Chase. From now on, anything about that, it’s a balance,” said Montoya. “To come here, first Chase race, put on the pole, finish [third]. Can I ask for anything else? Not really. A win would be nice, but that will come.”