Our weekly series of interviews with drivers who are currently outside the top 12 in points continues. This week: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing's Juan Pablo Montoya.
What's the best race you've ever driven in?
JPM: Probably Monaco. Yeah, definitely Monaco. It's just a different weekend than anything else. It's a little like the (Coke) 600. You run one day, then a day off. The track changes a lot because the road, every time you're on the track, you run about a second a lap quicker. It's just really interesting.
Who is the most talented driver in NASCAR?
JPM: I don't know. There are a few of them, I would think.
If a fan wants to get your autograph, what's the best ––
JPM (cuts off question): There's times for everything. I think if it's in the middle of practice, it's kind of crazy, but they do it. They ask for them. And normally I won't do it when I'm in the middle of practice or when I'm in a rush to go get somewhere. Otherwise, it's not a problem.
What do you think is something fans don't know or understand about you?
JPM: I don't know. I would think a lot. I don't know, I don't think about it.
What's the worst track on the NASCAR circuit?
JPM: I don't know. Of the (current) ones, I don't have one. I tested once in Kentucky and I thought, ‘There are a lot of races in the middle of nowhere, but that one is exceptionally in the middle of nowhere.' I was shocked. But it's not on the schedule, so screw it (Told it will be on the schedule next year, Montoya shrugs indifferently).
Is there one driver you particularly admire outside of NASCAR?
JPM: No. When I was a kid, I was a big fan of (Ayrton) Senna. That's it.
How long do you envision your career lasting?
JPM: I think until the day you get in the car and you start to doubt what you're doing. Or you go in the car and you think, "Ooh" (Crinkles nose as if smelling a foul odor). Like you don't commit to it. I don't think I'll get as far (as Mark Martin), but I do want to race quite a few more years.
What's the first thing you do when you get home from a long race weekend?
JPM: Most of the time when you come home from a race it's freakin' 2 in the morning. You know? There are races like (Michigan) that are a little better, and you get home at 10 o'clock. But normally it's a little later. I get in, brush my teeth, watch TV and go to bed. Nothing else.
Who wins the Sprint Cup in 2015?
JPM: Hopefully us.
If you were in charge of NASCAR, what's one thing you'd change?
JPM: I don't want to go there. What would you change? SBN: The schedule? Fewer races, shorter races? I wouldn't do less races. I would do shorter races. I'd rather come race every week than test.
You know what I would probably do? I would make Fridays a little different to get rid of testing completely. Maybe once a month, open an afternoon up. Like Friday afternoon from 1-5 is Cup practice, like an open test and you can run telemetry and everything. I think that would be the best.
If a new driver came into NASCAR and asked you one driver he should learn from and one he shouldn't, who would you say?
JPM: You want to learn from Mark Martin. He'd be one of the best guys to learn from, because you can go and ask questions. Not to learn from? I don't know. Me. (laughs). I'm actually trying to help a lot of people, but... (shrugs)
Would you rather be known as a great driver or a great person?
JPM: (shrugs indifferently)