News & Media

Montoya hoping Watkins Glen is his answer

August 10, 2012, Seth Livingstone, Special to NASCAR.COM,

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- Two years since his last victory, he feels his team is headed in right direction

To say Juan Montoya is licking his chops could be an understatement.

Montoya is starving for a win and Watkins Glen is his kind of place.

"This is a good track for me," Montoya said, stating the rather obvious outside his Earnhardt Ganassi hauler on Friday.

"We've been working so hard and we really [needed] a little bit of light. We know we're working in the right direction."


Montoya has made 202 career Sprint Cup starts. Both his victories -- at Sonoma Raceway in 2007 and at Watkins Glen in 2010 -- have come on road courses. In fact, Montoya was dominant at The Glen in 2010 when he led 74 of 90 laps, including the final 28 on his way to Victory Lane.

Moreover, Montoya's lone Nationwide Series trip to Victory Lane came at Mexico City, another road course.

As disappointing as 2012 has been for the 36-year-old open-wheel champ, who has only two top-10 finishes and sits 21st in points, he's not dead yet in terms of the Chase. A victory Sunday at Watkins Glen could suddenly put a wild card spot within reach.

"[If we] win here and find something on the car, you could change your season in five minutes," Montoya said. "There are a lot of good tracks coming for us."

Montoya has genuine reason for optimism, having won the pole last week at Pocono. Although he finished 20th, his car was strong enough to lead the first seven laps.

"I think [winning the pole] was big," Montoya said. "It was a big boost for everybody on the Target team. We've been working so hard and we really [needed] a little bit of light. We know we're working in the right direction.

"It showed the car has a lot of potential. We just haven't been able to use it. "

Montoya said upcoming tests should help his team get a better feel. The recent tire test at Michigan International Speedway provided information critical to the pole-winning performance last week.

"I think we learned a lot about our cars [at Michigan]," Montoya said. "There were a few things we didn't understand. We went [to Pocono] and qualified on the pole. We're getting more speed out of the car. The consistency is just a little bit off from where we need to be."

Montoya says he finds Watkins Glen a more challenging road course than the tighter layout at Sonoma, the Cup Series' only other road layout.

"I guess he would know because he's a professional on road courses," said Cup points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is winless in 12 Cup starts at The Glen.

Like Earnhardt, other drivers just want to survive the New York road course weekend.

"If I can just hold my own and get out with a top-10 or top-five finish, I think that would be a reasonable expectation," said Greg Biffle, third in the points standings.

But Montoya, despite finishing no better than eighth in a Cup race this season, is dangerous this week.

"Our goal this weekend is to win," Montoya said. "Worst-case scenario for us would be a top-five."