Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series: Rolex 24 at Daytona
Topics: Rolex 24 at Daytona
Juan Pablo Montoya
January 27, 2013
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA
Q. Scott, your emotions for finally getting five, and the fact that Hurley was one of the first ones there to greet you and to congratulate you.
SCOTT PRUETT: It's just an incredible day all the way around, winning with these guys, winning with Chip, with TELMEX, with BMW, and then at the end of it, having gotten to know Hurley real well over the years by racing with him and just as a friend, and to have him there at the end was pretty special, very special thing.
Q. This is for Juan and Scott: How hard was it for you to watch someone else close this out today knowing what everyone had on the line? And Juan, how much did you want to do that and how much of a good feeling was it to close the deal like you did?
SCOTT PRUETT: Well, it's no secret that I've gotten pretty beat up over the years, especially in NASCAR‑‑ in IndyCar. I don't know, for some reason my left ankle was bothering me a lot. It was really painful, and sometimes that happens. I knew I could go out and run a fast pace, but I wasn't confident that if I had to go head to head, some real hard, close racing, that I'd have enough strength in my ankle to be able to get it done. I told Timmy, I don't want to do this, but for the good of the team, we need to do it because we don't know how this thing is going to unfold, we don't know who's going to be there at the end, and I got in and ran a couple stints right there at the end and put us in a solid position. Juan got in and just did a tremendous job.
That's one of the things when you get together with a group like this with Memo, with Charlie, with Juan, don't try to be Superman. We've got some very incredibly talented guys that can step in and close it out. I'm just proud to be a part of the team, and it was exciting to finish up on top.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: It was a lot of pressure. I thought we have a decent lead, we're just going to go out there and ride for two and a half hours or whatever is left, and then you realize there's a caution and another caution and another caution, and with the way the rules are and the speed the car had, it's like you didn't want to get into a pissing contest with anybody. You had to be smart about when you passed them and everything, so I was always careful on the restarts, and I took my time to pass people. When they told me 9 was going to get a penalty, I rode behind for a couple laps, and as soon as he went in, I caught up the 10 car in a half a lap, and a lap later passed him and drove away. We were kind of concerned about the 6 car, what they were going to do with fuel because they told me they could make it until the end and that we were going to have to push, and we pushed like crazy and opened up a hell of a gap. It was fun.
Q. Charlie, there are three professional race car drivers in the world that race as a diabetic. Coming into your first 24‑hour race, can you talk about what you had to change as far as your preparation for this race to stay in line with your treatment?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: Well, in an IndyCar race you're in the car for a maximum three and a half hours, and at a 24‑hour race they can call you to come jump in the car even though they've got a plan when you're going to drive and not, usually when the green flag flies, that plan goes straight out the window. So I had to make sure I was prepared and ready and conscientious about where my blood sugar was and when I was injecting and what I was eating and making sure I was getting the nutrition I needed, but also making sure my blood glucose was where it was supposed to be for that whole 24 hours. For the last four hours when Scott was finishing up his stints and Juan was getting ready to climb in and close it out, then I could relax a little bit. But until then, even all day Friday, Friday night, Saturday morning, I was really having to pay attention and focus on being prepared and as regimented as possible in a race that's typically very unregimented.
Q. Charlie, did you only do one stint?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: I did two stints, but once in the car, yeah.
Q. Your first time racing with a roof, and the pressure of this and the pressure of being with these guys, how do you find the whole experience?
CHARLIE KIMBALL: Well, I think the pressure side, having these guys as teammates takes a heck of a lot off my shoulders because I knew that I could settle in, and as long as I was smart and didn't make too many big mistakes and kept us in the race they'd put us in a position to win at the end. Overall what an incredible race, though. It's unbelievable, and with about four hours to go, I looked up and thought, we have the whole Indy 500 left to run as far as time, and my second thought was, why do they only do this once a year, because what an incredible‑‑ it's hard on everybody, mechanics, team, drivers, but it's such an awesome event and such a great race, and just to be a part of it with these guys and learn from these guys, I think it'll help me not only in this side with the roof but also without a roof.
Q. Staying in the pressure theme, moving down the table to Juan, a big year for you because I think you want to perform better in your full‑time job. Can you talk about what this means for you and what kind of momentum it can give you?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I think it's good. I think personally it's a boost getting the job done. The last few years we finished second, we finished fourth, we finished third, we've been there all the time, and it's been painful. It's like you get so close, and the last season caught pretty hard.
I think testing has gone really, really well over the last couple months with the new car, and it seems like we've got a lot more speed than we had last year. It's encouraging. I'm very conservative to see how good we're going to be, but we're probably 80 percent better prepared than last year, and that is good. Everybody ‑‑ we had to hire a ton of new people last year and now everybody is working together, everybody understands their job and what needs to be done, so it's been pretty good?
Q. Do you think you're racing for your job this year?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I think you always race for your job. It's normal.
Q. Juan, it's kind of what I was asking AJ, did it help you because you have raced AJ in the past, you knew what to expect on some of these restarts, you knew him?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I think we've both been doing NASCAR for a while, and you learn the give and take and you learn to share the racetrack, and that's something that here people don't do. You're beside them and they turn like you're not even there, and that's kind of shocking, but that's what it is.
Q. Juan, was it kind of frustrating in that last hour with the cautions and all the restarts, and did it almost remind you of a NASCAR race?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I don't know, you keep your head cool, and you know what you need to do, and that's it. You want to‑‑ with the speed we had on the car, it felt like we didn't have to take any risk. We had to go through a decent restart and then go for it.
Q. Just how good a feeling is it when you know you're faster than the guy in front of you and you know as soon as you get your chance that it's just a matter of time as long as you don't mess it up?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Well, that's one of the cool things about doing the 24 hours with Chip is every year you come here, you're a favorite, whether you win or not, you're always a favorite and you always have a chance of winning. Everybody that races for Chip that comes here finds that out. You know, it's fun, it's exciting, and it's‑‑ I feel bad for the guys in the 02 because they had a ton of speed and they could have easily won, too.
Q. Scott, it's been a little while since we saw you cross for the Le Mans 24 hours. The rumors are we might see Daytona Prototypes racing there in a couple years' time. Talk about having another class win.
SCOTT PRUETT: I think it would be tremendous. I think that's one of the frontiers that Chip hasn't yet conquered or really gotten himself involved in the middle of but one that he would like to take on for sure, especially with the relationship we have with BMW it would be a natural to head on over there, and I certainly would like to go back. Just like the Daytona 24‑hour, the Le Mans 24 is interesting because they're really different, the races themselves, one is on a three‑and‑a‑half mile track, one is on an eight‑mile track, as you know, and the ebb and flow is different. With everything coming together like it is, and I know one of those things that Chip hasn't achieved yet is going over to Europe and racing at Le Mans, and I know he would jump at that chance, and I would, too.
Q. Memo and Scott, just how important or how big of a deal is it to open the year with a win and get the points and go into the rest of the season like that?
MEMO ROJAS: Well, it is obviously the best way you can start the year because first of all we are in the points lead, and second, it's great as far as motivation for everyone in the team. The crew works so hard at the shop first of all to prep for this race, and our season ends at the beginning of October, and immediately they start working on the 24 hours. The cars get stripped away, and it's so much so that everybody really kind of needs this kind of motivation, and we won the championship last year, and the expectations are high, so we set ourselves a high goal and we were going to try to win the 24 hours first, and hopefully we can go for another championship.
SCOTT PRUETT: It's great to have the momentum coming out of this race, but when we come into this race we focus on this race. I shouldn't say we don't look at the championship, because that's‑‑
MEMO ROJAS: But you don't.
SCOTT PRUETT: We do. It's kind of in the back of your head. More than anything else it's to win this race and get out and get it done, and it's nice to get that momentum going this year as we head into Austin here in about four weeks.
Q. Scott, when you see the 02 go out permanently and know he's completely done at the end of the race, is it a little disconcerting to you, or are you able to‑‑ what are you thinking in the car when you know you have the most dominant race car out on the track?
SCOTT PRUETT: Well, from the standpoint of teammate, you always want to have your teammate out there with you. Things can happen, and it's nice to be in a position to have two cars most certainly. Chip enters two cars because you never know what's going to happen. Something could unfortunately happen to one car. With what happened to the 02 car, as we looked at the 01 car, any concerns on that front from their failure to the end of the race, no. That was we believed a byproduct of something that happened earlier, and certainly we weren't concerned with the reliability of the 01. I mean, the 01 is just a rock‑solid car. It's fun to drive, and I think AJ Allmendinger put it really well. We took advantage of a situation this year, and last year they took advantage of their situation with their engine manufacturer.
Q. Scott, how does this fifth victory in the 24 Hours rate or rank against your other victories here or any other significant accomplishments in your career?
SCOTT PRUETT: You know, they're all great. With the five championships that we've won and now the five overall wins here at the Rolex 24, five‑for‑five is nice. But they're all different, but they are all as sweet. I mean, winning a championship is different than winning this race. Winning this race the first time is different than winning it the second time. Every event that I've come here is significantly different. Sometimes you're faced with rain and sometimes you're faced with incredibly hot temperatures, and sometimes you're faced with a car that is certainly down from where you'd hope it would be, but you just kind of keep digging the whole time. So overall they're all very special.
Q. Scott, you once said after your accident in the IndyCar that the only time you really felt good physically was when you were driving a race car. Today it was clear you were pretty much in pain when you got out. To what extent does your injuries or do your injuries aggravate you or bother you, either regular day‑to‑day life or when you're driving the car?
SCOTT PRUETT: Well, they bother me from the time I wake up in the morning, and it's not getting any better. For sure it's getting worse, anything from shattering my ankles, to breaking my back, breaking my knees, and all the other stuff along the way, it was shoulders and elbows, and it all takes its toll. We were good for a long time, but I could still run really fast and a good pace. My only concern was going head to head and having to really stomp on the brake and maybe out deep somebody. I just wasn't 100‑percent confident, and with the talented group of guys up here who could get it done, that's one of those things where you don't want to step back, but the right thing to do is to go turn it over to one of these guys that can get it done, and Juan did.
Q. I think you were in the room when Angelelli made a comment about racing with his wrists tied. Is there any comment you can make about the GRAND‑AM's rules equalization program, how it may have benefitted you or not or any comment about that issue?
SCOTT PRUETT: I didn't quite hear his comment about that. I think we were still walking in the room.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I was here. He said he had his hands tied. We've been in that situation, and even in that situation we fought for the win, and even last year, last year even when we were down in power‑‑ I think that it's true. As I said earlier, you look at the other two BMWs, the 42 and 43, they were as quick as the field. I think as a team we did a really6 good job taking drag out of the car and understanding what needed to be done to get that top speed up. We did our homework, and it paid off.
MEMO ROJAS: They had the best cars last year, during the season, and it turns out we had a good car, and then they didn't win. I think it's one of those deals, it's not only speed, but you need to have a whole package, a good team, and no mistakes, everything. They were the quickest cars all of 2012. They just made too many mistakes. He needs to remember that.
SCOTT PRUETT: I think it's a great thing that GRAND‑AM continually looks to equalize the cars, as you saw all the Rileys had to add drag to the cars, and everybody knew that we were in a deficit on the engine side. We won two races, Chevy won eight races last year, so I think it was pretty clear where the dominance was, and I think what we've seen so far, if it's not right, they'll come back and fix it. The NASCAR regime has always been to entertain the fans with close competition, and our series is owned by NASCAR with the same philosophy, and if they feel‑‑ I guarantee you there's probably a chance our car will be impounded and taken back to the NASCAR tech center and they'll have a good close look at it and make any changes needed if they feel like they need to do it.
Q. Considering this is an endurance race, have any of you ever been in a better car for a 24‑hour race?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Than this year? I think the first year BMW came on board, I did think we had a big advantage then. I think today we had a big advantage because I think our aero package was better, more horsepower. If you see the infield we didn't have a big advantage.
The other thing is the 9 car, the sister car of the 10, I really struggled to pass them down the straight, and they had the same downforce as us. The 10 car had a ton of downforce to be quick in the infield and they paid the penalty, so it's all very, very relative.
MEMO ROJAS: I think our car, one of the strongest points was that it didn't really change the balance much from daylight to night. I think typically in the past we've typically struggled with having a car that's tight or under‑steers. In the day it gets loose, at night vice versa. This cars with very consistent. You could settle the car with the bars and compensate whatever lack of grip in the tires you were losing from rear to front tires. So it was very consistent. That was the thing. This car you could easily drive it consistently. It's something you work really hard, and it's easy to say but not easy to do. Ask the engineers. Sometimes you work as hard as you can and you don't get a car as good as you wanted, and this time I think we achieved it.
SCOTT PRUETT: It wasn't the best, but it was certainly up there with the top three that I've driven here. As Memo was saying, the thing that I was impressed with was the car was always the same. It changed at night, but the balance didn't change, it seemed like the grip of the tire just had longer longevity at night than during the car. You'd go further before you felt like you started to give up a little bit on the tires.
Overall every time I got in the car, the balance was the same. The bars were set the same, and the things we did while you're in the car was the same every stint for me, and I think these guys, as well. It was a wonderful car to drive.
Q. Those other two, did you win with the other two?
SCOTT PRUETT: The other year that we won here and one of the years that we should have won here I think was‑‑ I'm going to say '09.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: When Justin brought the car to the garage. You were leading by nearly a lap.
SCOTT PRUETT: It was '10. That car was really good, as well. We finished second that year. It was just a mistake that was made‑‑
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: No, first year of BMW.
SCOTT PRUETT: Yeah, so 2010. That would be for sure number two, and maybe even better than this car, as well, and then the year I won with Nissan. That was a good car. But it was a whole different pace, too. There was a couple cars that were going at it, and it was a whole different race.
I mean, what we've seen with the Rolex Sports Car Series, you've got to get it all the time. I mean, you're running hard 24 hours, and it wasn't until probably the last seven, eight years that it's been that way.
HERB BRANHAM: Thank you very much, guys. Congratulations.
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