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Montoya: ‘The 24… would be an ideal scenario’

August 16, 2013, Staff report, NASCAR.com

Ousted EGR driver tells Autoweek: 'The No. 1 thing for me is being in a winning car'

Two days after Earnhardt Ganassi Racing announced Juan Pablo Montoya would not return to the No. 42 car next year, the driver had the inverse of that number if he could ‘do anything as a race driver,’ according to an interview with Autoweek.

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“The 24 [Jeff Gordon's car at Hendrick Motorsports],” Montoya told Autoweek. “That would be an ideal scenario because to be honest, how many years Jeff's got left? But it's timing. The timing is not there to be there.”

The two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winner and 2009 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup participant also explained the difference between his current team and Hendrick.

“If you look at the bigger picture, how many employees are at Hendrick [Motorsports]? More than 600, and we have 170,” Montoya said. “Somebody told me that there's more engineers at Hendrick than personnel at Ganassi.

“So when you're racing every week against them, yeah, you might have a shot a couple weeks a year because they screw it up and you got it all right, but being realistic, year-round ain't gonna happen. You might get closer and closer. In 2009 we found something in the aerodynamics that nobody else did and our car had a lot of downforce, and we were good, and we were good every week.”

After winning a CART championship and the 2000 Indianapolis 500 with Chip Ganassi, Montoya said his relationship with his owner was “even way better than it used to be.”

“[Ganassi] wants to win and he's changed a lot of things. For the long-term they're gonna be probably good changes.”

When asked about his next move, the seven-year NASCAR veteran said, “one side of me of course wants to stay in NASCAR, I've put a lot of effort and time into it. But the No. 1 thing for me is being in a winning car.”

Montoya was in Detroit on Thursday for the Woodward Dream Cruise presented by Chevrolet and met with Autoweek, Univision and other media en route to Michigan International Speedway, where he finished 20th in June’s Quicken Loans 400.

“Our Target Chevy was actually pretty good the last time we were in Michigan,” Montoya said. “The guys worked on the handling and just when we had it under control a caution came out right after we made a green flag pit stop, and we went a lap down.

“Otherwise, we would have had a top-10 finish. So, I’m looking forward to heading back there and getting the finish we deserve. We need to keep our momentum going and make that final push to make the Chase.”

In 22nd place in the Sprint Cup standings, where he was when NASCAR’s premier series left the Irish Hills after the last race, Montoya is 15 points out of 20th place and a couple of wins away in the final four races of the regular season from his second career Chase berth.

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