Many look at Juan Pablo Montoya as one of the most skilled road course racers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, but neither Kasey Kahne nor Brad Keselowski would likely agree following Sunday’s race at Infineon Raceway.
After Montoya pitted late in the going for tires and fuel, the former Sonoma winner was mired mid-pack and eager to race his way back to the front. In doing so, Montoya utilized his bumper on more than one occasion, beating and banging his way through the field.
With less than 15 laps to go, Montoya was racing hard with Kahne for the fourth spot. Kahne was able to pull ahead of Montoya’s No. 42 heading up the hill into Turn 2, but Montoya drove into the side of the No. 4 Toyota and sent Kahne back to the 22nd spot.
“Montoya just drove through me at the top of the hill, that’s just obvious,” Kahne said. “Last year when (the Earnhardt Ganassi Racing) cars were really, really good and Jamie McMurray was the man, Juan still couldn’t win a race. That shows about what he can do here in NASCAR anyways.”
Kahne said he gave Montoya plenty of room going into the corner and was simply hit from behind.
“He got mad probably because I beat him into Turn 1 when he was beside me off of (Turn) 11, so he just got mad and wrecked me into (Turn) 2,” he said. “That’s why he got mad – he didn’t get mad because I didn’t give him any room.”
Just a handful of laps later, Montoya battled Keselowski for the fifth spot with seven laps to go. As Montoya made the move around the No. 2 Dodge, Keselowski hooked Montoya and sent him spinning. The incident sent Montoya back to the 12th spot.
“We (went) through the corner and I just got on his bumper a little bit and moved him a little,” Montoya said. “Got a good run and I guess he didn’t like it. I mean, it is just hard to run with people who have never run well on road courses or have no experience at it. It cost us a ton of points today.”
Keselowski said he didn't take pride in taking Montoya out, but felt it was a necessary evil given the circumstances.
"It’s eat or be eaten sometimes on these road courses, and when that guy behind you opens his mouth and is about to put you down his throat, you better make a move,” he said. “(It is) nothing I take pride in, but more or less survival more than anything else.”
Keselowski said based on how Montoya raced him earlier in the race, combined with the incident with Kahne just laps prior, led him to believe he was about to be wrecked.
"The body language of Juan’s car said he was going to wreck me," Keselowski said. "I just made sure that didn’t happen.”
Montoya said the incidents stemmed from people not giving him enough room and believing they know how to race on road courses when they actually don't.
“I got beside (Kahne) and he knocked me a couple of times, and they just don’t give me any room so it was hard,” Montoya said. “The No. 2, I got on his bumper moved him a little bit, got beside him and passed him and he just plain and simple wrecked us.
"It’s hard when people don’t know how to race on road courses and think they do. It’s OK.”