NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES: DUEL #1
February 21, 2013INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA
KERRY THARP: We have the Budweiser Duel 1 in the books behind us. We have our third?place finisher, that is Juan Pablo Montoya.
Juan, you weaved your way up through there towards the second half of that race. Looked like you had a strong racecar. Talk about how things went out there for you today.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: It was kind of a weird race. The second or third lap, we talked with Dale before the race, we both wanted to get to the front, I'll just follow him. I went into turn three. Our car has been pretty good. If anything it's been a little loose. Went into turn one, it headed towards the fence. I felt the chatter, I put on the brakes, and even like that, I just ran out of room.
I just had to run at the top. Rode for a while. Had the pit stop. We decided we were doing four tires. It was just too slow. We lost ground. Then at the end it was good.
KERRY THARP: We'll take questions for Juan.
Q. Saturday night the lower inside lane looked weak. People said there weren't enough cars down there. Today it looked very weak again.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: The bottom won; the leaders were on the bottom, as far as I remember. I was following them. I was on the bottom.
Q. But he was up high most of the race.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: The problem is most of the restrictor plate races, when you're in a big pack, it's easier to control the pack when you're on the top than the bottom.
Usually when it comes to close the race, the bottom is the way to go.
Q. So you don't think the bottom is a dead issue, it still remains to be seen whether the bottom lane can be stronger?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Yeah, I don't know. The problem is there's never enough cars on the bottom. You know, you start on the bottom, somebody bails out, somebody bails out, somebody jumps in front. It never gets enough momentum.
Don't you think?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: I agree. I like the bottom. If there's enough people go down there, the bottom will beat the top, is my opinion. It just matters who is down there.
A great example is on the last couple laps. I thought we were going to have a chance to win. We were lined up with Jimmie. We got Biffle stuck at the bottom. He just stopped us. His car is so strong, he was able to just run right with us. It bogged us down and here come the whole world.
Wherever the fastest cars go, it will work.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: That's where it works.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: Also the 500 last year, I think Matt, he just ran around the bottom. In July, that's when it was. He was so fast, everybody had to follow him.
It will be interesting 'cause handling went away today. That was cool.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Were you tight?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: I got tight.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Really tight. A lot of people, you could hear the guys running the top. I felt the top was way tighter than the bottom.
Q. Juan, you stopped late for repairs. What was wrong with the car? And where did you come from? You were far back on the restart.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: We came in. Actually wasn't too bad. When I came to the stop, something fell out of the right front, like split open. So the fender split open. When I came in, they put tape on it and fixed it.
The restart, the car felt like it felt yesterday in practice. Had a lot of speed. I was going to get in line on the top. I felt I had good momentum, I'm just going to give it a go. I went to the middle, had a great run. Went to the bottom, Tony came with that, that helped.
Like Michael said, you got cars on the bottom, it makes it look good. It's fun. That's what shows. You just got to be there at the end to have a chance.
Q. It seemed like regardless of bottom line, top line, which one worked, it was mostly a parade, then everybody started to go about 10 laps to go? Is that the pace you are electing to run?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: You know, I think it's hard to really make any moves. For the 500, you're going to have double cars. There's going to be people running the bottom all the time, people running the top all the time. You are going to have two proper lanes. I think it's going to be a little bit different.
You know, it's hard, you don't want to tear up the car, and at the same time you want to go. The bumpers are a little fragile. You have to be careful with that. You want to have a good car at the end.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: The choice was made by a bunch of us to run around in circles and log laps. It would have been stupid for me to pull out of line and do anything. I'm just trying to make the race.
That's what you had. There was a lot of apprehension, too, from all the drivers, listening to them talk, about what we would have, how we would race each other, how effective and dangerous even side drafting is and can be.
So there was a lot of people that just wanted to get through some laps and understand what was going on. There were some of us that would have run like that till they threw the checkered just to make the race. Then there were some that decided it was time to go and they made it work.
Harvick leading the bottom, like we said earlier, that's a no?brainer, he's going to the front, he's got a fast car.
Run the bottom, it's the fastest way around. You put the fastest car on the bottom, it will outrun the top every time.
KERRY THARP: Michael, into the Daytona 500. Congratulations. I know that was an exciting and memorable moment when your car was unveiled. How does it feel now knowing you're going to be out there representing all these great people for the 500?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: It's just an honor to be able to race this car. We went to Newtown a couple weeks ago and met with the town. Couldn't wait to give them something to smile about. It's been obviously a tough couple of months. Obviously all the fans are texting Newtown, 80888, rebuilding the town, whatever they need that money for, we're glad we can help out.
Secondarily, we know we're going to give them something to cheer about in the 500. There's so many race fans in the northeast, it's an honor to race it.
Q. Michael, even though two cars are going home today, how much pressure did you feel to make the race, given the emotional wait of what you're representing here?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: It's always something. It seems like every time I was carrying a lot of hopes and dreams, people that I wanted to cheer up on my car. So it meant a lot to us to put it in. Two cars are going to miss it. If I get wrecked in that crash, I could have been one of the two. It will be interesting to watch this race because it looks like it could be really tight to squeeze one more car in the field.
I'm happy. Tony, Jr. is so much fun to work with. Brandon Davis and those folks at Swan Racing, I think it's a great story for you guys. They said, We're going to come in and race, figure this out. David Stremme has been to every auction, shop, bought parts from Roush, from us, all over, just putting this team together.
Stremme is a great story. No one is working any harder, cares more, wants to be part of this deal any worse than David. I'm glad we got him in the race. That's a big deal for the team, for the sponsor, for the community. It's really rewarding to be able to accomplish that.
Q. Restarting on the outside, Kevin has done that several times. What were y'all thinking about?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: What are we, chopped liver?
GREG BIFFLE: What was the question?
MICHAEL WALTRIP: Harvick started on the outside. What are your thoughts?
GREG BIFFLE: I think everybody is going to start on the outside.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: There you have it.
GREG BIFFLE: He won the Sprint Unlimited race like that. I went all the way to the back when I started on the inside, worked my way all the way back to second. I was hoping that wasn't going to happen today. Four to go, starting on the inside, I thought I was dead in the water. If the bottom line wouldn't have gotten going, if Juan wouldn't have gotten his Army together, I probably wouldn't have been where I was.
When they finally got their run, I was able to move down, get a shove from them, stay up there in the top two.
It seems like the top is the fastest. When the four of us were out there lined up, we were faster on the bottom. I don't know if anybody knows yet. We'll keep trying.
MICHAEL WALTRIP: Do you want me to add? I have nothing to add (laughter). I'm just happy to be here.
Q. Greg, the early part of the race, everybody was just running laps. Was it just mere caution or do you think people were concerned about the lack of parts?
GREG BIFFLE: I wasn't thinking about parts because I thought my Sprint Unlimited car was pretty fast either way.
The reality was, is once everybody got on the top, lined up, the bottom couldn't do anything. Everybody that got out of line, Denny Hamlin got out of line running third or fourth, my spotter told me he got in line dead last. I was like, Well, I don't want to do that.
I just stayed in line till it came down to it, I was going to make a run at the leader. I think everybody knew if they got out of line, without half the field committing to the bottom, it wasn't going to happen.
Q. Greg, could you explain to fans about testing the vehicle and racing the vehicle, the biggest differences they might be interested in.
GREG BIFFLE: Well, I think it's really hard here. When we were testing, we really mostly did single?car runs. We weren't in big packs. When you are in big packs testing, you're not really trying as hard as you can.
Now we know people are trying as hard as they can because there's trophies on the line, starting positions and stuff. Now we're getting a feel for how it really drives.
They really stall easy. They won't suck up to the guy in front of you. You get a push. He pushed me up, I got close to Kevin.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: He had like a spring. I managed to get to his bumper. I pushed him. Then when I lost him, I mean, it's like three car lengths. It's not like you lift.
GREG BIFFLE: Yeah, I look in the mirror, Juan, where you going?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I mean, you can't get back.
GREG BIFFLE: It takes time and it takes cars, that accordion effect, to start bunching up again to where it starts pushing the front cars again is what ends up happening.
Q. What did you mean by 'stall'?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Side draft.
GREG BIFFLE: Side draft. When you side draft, the car will stall. You get a run on somebody, you run up close to their rear bumper, it just stops.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: You're pushing so much air with the nose. Open?wheel is different. In open?wheel you drop and you actually get the extra speed. Here you get the extra speed when you get close to the car in front, the air you get, you actually push the car in front forward. You actually make it go faster. For me it was really weird at the beginning.
Q. Different than what you've experienced before?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Yes.
GREG BIFFLE: Yes.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: This car you can notice it more, as well.
GREG BIFFLE: Absolutely.
Q. Greg, you've had two opportunities now to try to get around Harvick. Is there a Plan C for Sunday?
GREG BIFFLE: Got to get to his bumper. I was at his bumper in three and four there. But you just got to have some help. You got to get that accordion effect. I didn't know what was going on. I knew there was a lot going on behind us, so I didn't think about backing up to the bumper of the 42. I didn't think that was going to be a smart thing to do.
Man, you got to be in the right place at the right time. You got to get a big run. You got to have a couple cars with you, side draft the guy, get out front.
A bunch of people were like, Why didn't you turn him? Why didn't you turn him? Doesn't take any talent to wreck somebody for the win, and wreck 20 cars behind you.
You got to run as hard as you can and you got to trade a little paint. At the same time we all got to finish, you know. Thank you very much and good luck on Sunday.