Transcript of Montoya, Kanaan going off on Milwaukee IndyCar traffic


WEST ALLIS, Wis. – I’m not sure if Juan Pablo Montoya or Tony Kanaan has ever heard the term “FIBs” – something Wisconsin drivers jokingly refer to about Illinois drivers – but the two IndyCar veterans did well to hold back acronyms or expletives regarding traffic during Sunday’s ABC Supply Co. Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest Presented by the Metro Milwaukee Honda Dealers.

That said, neither the second nor third place finisher Sunday at the Milwaukee Mile were pleased with the way lapped cars raced them at Milwaukee.

Ordinarily, you’d look at just selected quotes, but both of these two were in rare form during the post-race press conference.

So here’s the transcript of said JPM/TK traffic talk. Unfortunately there were no microphones for most questions:

THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by Juan Pablo Montoya. Juan, tell us about your race today.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I don’t know. Really pissed off, disappointed. I mean, I don’t know. I felt we had such a good car yesterday, we made some changes today, it wasn’t as good as we wanted it to be.

I think everybody was with a green racetrack. I think we overadjusted at the beginning of the race to try to compensate for the setup. At the end had a little too much understeer on the car. But it’s OK.

Kind of frustrating with the traffic. Really got to come up with a formula. It’s understandable at the beginning of the race that you want to stay on the lead lap. When you have 20, 30 laps to go, you’re just in the way. You’re about to hit the wall every lap, it’s kind of embarrassing. But that’s what they did. I was pretty mad. Sorry.

Tell them how you really feel.

THE MODERATOR: Tony, we talked a little bit yesterday about how strong the team was here at the track, how strong your car was. Tell us about your race and another podium finish.

TONY KANAAN: It was OK. Like Juan said, a little frustrating. I don’t think towards the end we had the car to beat Will. I think we could have been a lot closer if we didn’t get the interference from traffic.

I think when you’re two or three laps down, there is no point of you holding people up for position. I just don’t understand that.

But it is what it is. I know who these guys were. What goes around comes around. Hopefully I won’t be in that position to hold anybody up, two laps down. But it’s really frustrating.
I understand if you’re fighting to keep yourself on the lead lap because you haven’t got a lap down. But you’re like two, three laps down, 30 laps to go, why you want to get in the middle of first, second and third place to affect the race, which nothing is going to change for you?

It was really frustrating. They’re trying to prove a point in the end, which in the end there’s no point to prove.

It is what it is. I think Will had a great car. Congratulations to him. For us, we’ll go home sad. Second loser, third loser, here we go.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I’m glad I’m not the only one pissed off.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Will you confront the drivers that were holding you up in traffic?

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: People that don’t learn will never learn. If you had a bumper, move them out of the way a couple times…

Q. Yeah, you had that [in NASCAR] but you gave it up.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Yeah, I used it a few times. It’s just frustrating. I think that’s where the people calling the race, they should help the drivers, say, Hey, you just went a lap down, this is second place coming. You know what I mean? I don’t know.

Q. How did the race compare to the race you won here in 2000?

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: To be honest with you, I don’t remember. I’m getting old (laughter). You were here, do you remember?

TONY KANAAN: Yes. I remember you won.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: We were really quick. I mean, it’s funny because you have to brake a little bit more back in the day so you could accelerate quicker out of the corners.

I do remember we bitched about traffic the same way. It’s just hard. With a flat racetrack, so many marbles, it’s what the track brings. I think in a place like this, the officials have to come up and do something a little more aggressive.

Once the leader gets within a second, give him five or ten seconds to stay there. It’s different than a street course. A street course is a long way around. Here, you get a caution, you’ll be behind the same guy within 15 freaking laps, Here we go again. Sorry.

Q. (No microphone.)

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: No. I had a really good car. But I really killed my tires trying to pass traffic, my front tires again. I started gaining on him. We got to Marco. Then Hinch came out of the pits right in front. I’m like, Thank you, again, another one.

You start sliding those front tires, they never recover. I don’t know. It’s kind of funny. If you asked me at the beginning of the year if I was going to be mad for a second-place finish, I would say, ‘You’re crazy.’ But here I am.

Q. (No microphone.)

TONY KANAAN: Yeah. But, you know, to be able to win, you’ve got to finish in front. That’s what we’ve been doing. I think we showed how strong we are. We’re there every weekend. Unfortunately we made our own mistakes in some of the races. In others, it was just luck. I mean, Iowa was unfortunate.

It’s hard enough to win a race in this series, it’s so competitive. We’ve been there. We’ve been on the podium the last four, like we said.

Yeah, like I said, you can hear our interview. I don’t think anybody here is happy about it. Yeah, it’s better than finishing 10th, but I’m still looking for that win. We have two more tries. I think they’re two good racetracks for us. We’ll do our best.

Q. (No microphone.)

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: It’s just the nature of the racing, you know. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the racing. The runs that you get, ’cause the motors are restricted for the ovals, the runs you get are too short. You don’t get a big enough tow out of the corner. You can come right off of somebody’s tail, you can barely make it there. Unless they make a mistake and lose momentum, it’s pretty tough.

Q. (No microphone.)

TONY KANAAN: I don’t think it’s the package.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I think it’s the person behind the package.

TONY KANAAN: You have to realize you’re not having a good day. That’s pretty much it.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: The problem is when you have street courses and road courses, it’s a lot closer, everybody seems to run a lot closer on setups. I think the ovals, the better teams understand. The drivers, you can tell the difference between a really good driver and an average driver on an oval. This is the hardest thing we do. These are the fastest corners we take. It’s one after the other after the other after the other. You can see the guys that have the talent and the guys that don’t.

TONY KANAAN: You have 22, 23 cars in one second on a mile track, it equalizes everybody like if you tried to put a fast lap together. But like as Juan says, the talent comes out when the green flag drops, how you keep the momentum up. The talent drops, too (laughter). That was his quote. I just repeated it.

So I really don’t think it’s a package problem. I don’t think it’s a track problem. It’s not a blame. I don’t think it’s a blame. It’s just frustrating because I don’t think I would do that. If I was having a bad day, I wouldn’t do that to somebody else if I’m two, three laps down.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: The 67 had to come in for a stop. If you look at my data, (indiscernible) ran into the back of me. I got out of the gas on the straight to let him go. I did the same thing with Dixon. He got there, I just got out of the way.

People a lap down will race you all the way into the corner. It’s like I got inside the 67 once. I let him go afterwards. He drove me nearly over the curb in one and two. I was there.

What do you do next time you’re beside him? You go all the way to the marbles. You want to stay there, knock yourself out.

Q. (No microphone.)

TONY KANAAN: We had the same problem, like he said. I remember us complaining about it back then. We always had.

But the discrepancy between the equipment, it was much, much bigger. You remember, it was four, five, six engine manufacturers, two tire manufacturers, different chassis. It was a little easier to pass the back markers.

I remember, it would get really tough. You could race side-by-side at one point before the Handford device. But I think it would get really tough when you got into the top 12. It wasn’t the entire field.

I think the packages are a lot closer. The quality of the drivers nowadays, it’s actually a little higher. Before you had four, five, six guys that were really good, good teams. You also had good guys with new engine manufacturers that were not good enough for them to do anything. There was a little bit of discrepancy.

Right now there is none. It’s equalizing everybody. It’s tough. It gets to a point that we can’t do anything.

Q. (No microphone.)
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I agree with that.

Q. (No microphone.)

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: How many Helio had? 80, 90?

TONY KANAAN: Will knows that.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Helio knows that, exactly.

Personally, I’m OK with that. Honestly, I think we deserve the championship this year. It’s not like we’ve just been scoring points. We’ve been good everywhere we’ve been, ovals, street courses, road courses, we’ve always been there. We’ve always given ourselves a chance to win.

To me to be fifth the first year back, I’ll take it.

THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, we will see you next weekend.

NHRA: Looking at where things stand at midpoint of Countdown

Top Fuel's Antron Brown has been the most dominant driver in the current NHRA Countdown to the Championship.
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The NHRA is now halfway through its six-race Countdown to the Championship and there have been a number of surprises – both good and bad – thus far.

When the series gets back to racing next weekend at Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Texas, those drivers who have dominated their respective categories in the Countdown so far stand a good chance of pulling away.

Not to mention potentially see several drivers start falling by the wayside and be eliminated.

Let’s take a look at each of the four pro classes and analyze the haves and have not’s thus far:


Biggest surprise: Antron Brown. It’s not so much a surprise that Brown is leading the standings, but it’s more so the way he’s doing it. The 2012 Top Fuel champ has been on fire, having won all of the first three Countdown races and a personal-best seven races overall this season. Brown set a NHRA record of 12-0 in final elimination rounds this past Sunday at Reading, Pa. You can’t get much more perfect than that. Brown has been so dominating that only teammate and defending eight-time champ Tony Schumacher is within reach points-wise. The other eight drivers still in contention are between 194 and 274 points behind. At the rate he’s going, Brown could potentially clinch the championship in the second-to-last race at Las Vegas.

You Go Girl: Brittany Force, daughter of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, has been a surprising upstart in the Countdown. While she’s 194 points behind Brown, Force is ranked third heading to Texas. She’s shown significant confidence and moxie in the first three races and if she keeps it up, she could potentially overtake Schumacher at some point for second place.

Different Team, Same Drive: Shawn Langdon lost his ride at the worst possible time, just before the Countdown began, when team owner Alan Johnson suspended operations. But give credit to fellow team owner Don Schumacher, who “borrowed” Langdon from Johnson for the Chase to replace Spencer Massey, who was released just before the Chase. Langdon has done well, but time is running out if he hopes to make one last shot to win yet another championship.


Biggest surprise: Del Worsham won the first two races of the Countdown and appears headed towards becoming only the third driver in NHRA history to win both a Top Fuel and Funny Car championship in his career. Worsham has been absolutely solid this season.

That’s The Fact, Jack: Jack Beckman has enjoyed arguably the best season of his career, a complete turnaround from last year’s draining struggle. Having left John Force at the end of last season, co-crew chiefs Jimmy Prock and John Medlen have reinvigorated both Beckman and his car. Worsham has been strong, but Beckman is only a mere 16 points back in second place. And with his win this past Sunday at Reading, momentum could potentially turn in Beckman’s direction heading to Texas.

The Numbers Game: Kudos to third-ranked Matt Hagan (90 points behind Worsham) and fourth-ranked Tommy Johnson Jr. (-98) for their strong efforts in the Countdown. Ditto for Ron Capps (105 points behind Worsham) and John Force (-150), who are both still within striking distance. However, two drivers have uncharacteristically struggled thus far in the Countdown: Alexis De Joria (ranked ninth, 207 points back) and Robert Hight (10th, 221 points back). Unless they right their respective ships, they run the risk of being eliminated at Las Vegas.


Biggest Surprise: Chris McGaha (third, 104 points behind series leader Erica Enders) and rookie Drew Skillman (sixth, -173) have definitely opened eyes this season, with each earning wins thus far in the Countdown. Also enjoying a strong run in the Countdown and a welcome resurgence overall this season is veteran racer Larry Morgan (fourth, 145 points back). Enders could potentially have her hands full in the final three races to keep these three hungry drivers at bay.

You Go Girl: Defending champ Enders has looked cool, calm and collected – just like she did en route to becoming the first female Pro Stock champ last season. With a 72-point lead over former champ Greg Anderson, Enders has become one of the best drivers when it comes to reaction times at the starting line, having won close to a dozen or more rounds just because she got the jump on her opponent at the so-called “Christmas tree.”


Biggest surprise: It would be hard to find two riders who have not been more surprising than Hector Arana Jr. (ranked third, 101 points back) and Louisiana alligator farmer Jerry Savoie (fourth, 119 points back). Arana is one of the most promising young riders on the circuit, while Savoie – after a 30-year layoff from racing – is proving that 53 (years old) is the new 23.

Back in the saddle again: Andrew Hines is gunning for his fifth bike championship, and second straight, and has done what he’s needed to do thus far in the Countdown. While Arana and second-ranked Eddie Krawiec (-89) are proving to be formidable foes, Hines appears to be ready to start pulling further away for the title.

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NHRA: New book a celebration of life, love and drag racing

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The overpowering smell from nitromethane that powers Top Fuel dragsters and Funny Cars in the National Hot Rod Association oftentimes brings fans to tears after getting a whiff of the stuff.

Now there’s a new inspirational book that will also bring tears to the eyes of die-hard drag racing fans.

Veteran crew chief Jim Oberhofer has released “Top Fuel For Life, Life Lessons From A Crew Chief,” a touching homage to both his late wife and persevering and overcoming adversity in the highly competitive world of NHRA drag racing.

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Oberhofer wears a number of hats as vice president of one of the sport’s most veteran and successful teams, Kalitta Motorsports, including serving as crew chief for Top Fuel driver Doug Kalitta’s dragster.

Oberhofer relates a number of stories about overcoming adversity in the book, but none more touching than how he watched his beloved wife “Tammy O” lose a long and painful battle to stage 4 metastatic lung cancer.

While Oberhofer has spent his life using wrenches and tools working on 10,000-horsepower engines, his new book shows that he is also a very gifted writer.

Known in the sport as “Jim O,” Oberhofer describes the fight his wife went through in gritty and descriptive prose, but with a foundation built upon what the love of his life meant to him – and continues to mean to him more than two years since she passed away.

“When you take a long hard look at your life, I guarantee you that being a winner has little to do with crossing the finish line,” Oberhofer said. “After many mistakes and a whole lot of heartache, I learned that happiness comes from a deeper, simpler place. That’s the big win.”

“Top Fuel For Life” is available on Amazon for $19.95.

Follow @JerryBonkowski