Juan Pablo Montoya surprised himself by scoring the outside pole for the second race in NASCAR's Chase for the Championship at Dover International Speedway. Montoya was only 0.0096 seconds slower than pole sitter Jimmie Johnson, with a time of 22.974 and a speed of 156.699.
"When Jimmie ran those laps in practice, I knew unless he did a huge mistake, we weren't going to get that pole," Montoya said.
Montoya was the first car out on the track for the qualifying session. While Montoya planned to run two laps, he decided that he had had enough after his first one.
"When I finished the first lap, I told them (his crew) there's no way I'm going to get any more out of the car," Montoya said. "I didn't have anything else. That's what we got."
"You always think you can get a little more," Montoya continued. "But that little more can cost you."
"We did the right thing."
Montoya was one of the drivers that participated in the tire test at Dover International Speedway. He was not sure that it actually helped during qualifying but felt that Goodyear had improved the tire from the previous race.
"This year, they're doing a really good job," said Montoya of Goodyear. "They've improved the tires and are making a more competitive tire for everybody."
Montoya also addressed the tight pit road at the Monster Mile, acknowledging that pit road speed may be a factor in the race. That very issue bit Montoya at Indy, when a speeding penalty cost him the win.
Montoya advised that they have not changed a thing in relation to that speeding penalty. "We haven't changed anything," Montoya said. "We're still doing the same thing."
"We done the same thing all year and suppose you fail once when you didn't have to."
Montoya also acknowledged that Dover is known for long green runs, as well as plenty of cautions toward the end of the race. When asked how he would deal with that, he advised that he would just have to "take whatever comes."
"We got a good starting spot and a good spot in the pits," Montoya said. "That's going to be big."
Montoya also had a big time yesterday with a visit to Walter Reed Medical Center. "The hospital was very special," Montoya shared. "I was really amazed with the attitude of all the guys there."
"It's incredible how positive everybody is."
Montoya was most struck by how optimistic all of the patients were in spite of their disabilities and injuries.
"You complain and you moan about things, and you look at them and at their attitude, and it's a shame on me and on everybody who complains," said Montoya vehemently.
Humbled by this experience, Montoya seemed to have a bit of a new perspective on the race and on the Chase. He advised that his team is loose and "everybody's happy."
"We're having fun," Montoya said. "We're pushing ourselves and trying to do the best we can."
"And it seems to be working so far."
Montoya's words indeed summed up his experience in the Chase so far, as well as his qualifying efforts at the Monster Mile. He will look to continue his quest for the Cup from that outside pole position at the Cup race on Sunday.
Photo Credit: Mary Jo Buchanan