Transcript of Montoya, Kanaan going off on Milwaukee IndyCar traffic

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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.

Coyne transitioning from underdog to Indy 500 threat

Photo: IndyCar
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For most of the team’s existence, Dale Coyne Racing has been the Chicago Cubs of American Open Wheel Racing – a team whose history was more defined by failures, at times comically so, than success.

The last decade, however, has seen the tide completely change. In 2007, they scored three podium finishes with Bruno Junqueira. In 2009, they won at Watkins Glen with the late Justin Wilson.

The combination won again at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012, and finished sixth in the 2013 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. That same year, Mike Conway took a shock win for them in Race 1 at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit.

Carlos Huertas scored an upset win for them in Race 1 at the Houston double-header in 2014, and while 2015 and 2016 yielded no wins, Tristan Vautier and Conor Daly gave them several strong runs – Vautier’s best finish was fourth in Race 2 at Detroit, while Daly finished second in Race 1 at Detroit, finished fourth at Watkins Glen, and scored a trio of sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Race 2 at Detroit, and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

And 2017 was set to possibly be the best year the team has ever had. Sebastien Bourdais gave the team a popular win in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and then rookie Ed Jones scored back-to-back top tens – 10th and sixth – at St. Pete and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to start his career.

But, things started unraveling at the Indianapolis 500. Bourdais appeared set to be in the Fast Nine Pole Shootout during his first qualifying run – both of his first two laps were above 231 mph –  before his horrifying crash in Turn 2.

While Jones qualified an impressive 11th and finished an even more impressive third, results for the rest of the season became hard to come by – Jones only scored two more Top 10s, with a best result of seventh at Road America.

But, retooled for 2018, the Coyne team is a legitimate threat at the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Bourdais, whose No. 18 Honda features new sponsorship from SealMaster and now ownership partners in Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan, has a win already, again at St. Pete, and sits third in the championship.

And Bourdais may also be Honda’s best hope, given that he was the fastest Honda in qualifying – he’ll start fifth behind Ed Carpenter, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, and Josef Newgarden.

“I think it speaks volumes about their work, their passion and their dedication to this program, Dale (Coyne), Jimmy (Vasser) and Sulli (James Sullivan) and everybody from top to bottom. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity, for the support,” Bourdais said of the team’s effort.

Rookie Zachary Claman De Melo has been progressing nicely, and his Month of May has been very solid – he finished 12th at the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS Road Course and qualified a strong 13th for the “500.”

“It’s been surreal to be here as rookie. I’m a bit at a loss for words,” Claman De Melo revealed after qualifying. “The fans, driving around this place, being with the team, everything is amazing. I have a great engineer, a great group of experienced mechanics at Dale Coyne Racing.”

While Conor Daly and Pippa Mann struggled in one-off entries, with Mann getting bumped out of the field in Saturday qualifying, Daly’s entry essentially puts three Coyne cars in the race – Daly’s No. 17 United States Air Force Honda is a Dale Coyne car that has been leased to Thom Burns Racing.

Rest assured, the days of Coyne being an “also ran” are long gone, and a Coyne car ending up in Victory Lane at the biggest race of the year would complete the Chicago Cubs analogy – the Cubs won a World Series title in 2016, and an Indy 500 triumph would be the crowning achievement in Coyne’s career.

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