Any time the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to the road course at Watkins Glen, Juan Pablo Montoya is mentioned among the favorites. Yet the defending race winner enters this weekend in a must-win situation if the No. 42 team has any hopes at making a run for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
After a strong start to the season, Montoya has scored only two top-10 finishes in the last 15 races, falling from as high as third in the standings at one point in the season all the way to 21st with only five races left before the 12-driver Chase field is set.
When opportunities to score solid finishes and potential wins at Infineon and Indianapolis produced disappointing results – 22nd at Sonoma and 28th at Indy – Montoya's chances for a Chase berth began to narrow.
Admitting the last three weeks have been "rough weeks" for the team, Montoya knows the organization has a lot of room for improvement, but is focused on scoring the win.
"Overall, we have cars that will run in the top-five, top-10 and we end up with 30-something-place finishes," he said. "We went from 13th in points three weeks ago to 21st, so that kind of sucks."
With three straight finishes of sixth or better at Watkins Glen, including last year's win, Montoya said this weekend has the potential to turn things around for the team that has battled inconsistency and struggles throughout the season.
Last week the team had a number of meetings at the shop in which Montoya said there were "good ideas and good planning" for the coming weeks.
Among some of the more unexpected planning that came up this week was the surprise news that two EGR crew members were arrested in a marijuana bust. Heading to one of the team's best tracks at one of the most crucial times of the season, Montoya said he and the crew have tried to look past the news and remain focused on this weekend's race.
"It's something the team had to deal with and NASCAR had to deal with and we left it at that," he said. "We made some changes on our crews and that's it. We get on with our business and try to win here and that's it."