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Juan Pablo Montoya is looking ahead to the playoffs, not behind at his Indianapolis heartbreak

  Juan Pablo Montoya: can he win the NASCAR championship? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   POCONO, Pa.
   Juan Pablo Montoya's run at Indianapolis was amazing.
   He was on the verge of one of his biggest wins ever…..and then that pit road penalty.
   And for a few moments after that Montoya was livid.
   "I don't blame him for being upset….when one of the races of your life slips away like that," Mark Martin said.
    However Friday at Pocono Raceway Montoya insisted it was all behind him, he didn't have to question or second-guess anything.
   "It was frustrating at the time…but by the time I got out of the car, it was okay," Montoya says.
   "Do I gain anything by wondering or saying or thinking 'Was the speedometer right, or the tach right?' 'Was NASCAR right?' 'Was I wrong?'
   "Who cares?
   "I moved on. Can't change it.
   "Even if they came to me today and said 'You know what, we made a mistake,' it wouldn't change anything."
   NASCAR has caught some 75 drivers speeding on pit road already this season, and six men were penalized at Indianapolis.
    Some drivers say NASCAR needs to tweak the system of timing the cars.
   "First, I don't know exactly how they determine pit road speeds," Carl Edwards says. "I think they need a transponder on the pace car, so everyone is certain what the pit road speed is, including NASCAR."
   One part of the issue: As difficult as it is to pass out on the track, drivers and teams have been putting increasing emphasis on beating rivals on pit road, dangerous as that can make things for crewmen.
   "There are times you've got to push…but I think when you've got a five-second lead with thirty laps to go you don't have to push it," Montoya says.
   "And I wasn't pushing it."
   Montoya, 10th in the standings, says he prefers to concentrate now on making the championship playoffs: "I think name of the game is consistency. At the end of the day it's all we've got to do.
   "We had the fastest car by a mile there, and that was nice to see.
   "Last week was a heartbreak for us. But at the end of the day you look at it and we finished 11th.
    "If we finish 12th or better every week, we should be good enough.
    "That's the way we see it, and that's what we're trying to do: Try to stay out of trouble…and so far so good."
   Why not just put speedometers in these cars? Drivers have to rely on tachs, and they are not digital readouts.
   Why not a simple GPS speedometer: $100. 
   "I think the way we do it is good," Montoya says. "We checked our stuff after the race, and it seemed okay. Everything seemed to be in the right place.
    "For some reason, they said we were speeding, and that's what it is.
    "I've moved on.
    "At the time it was really frustrating, especially when you believe you didn't do anything wrong.
    "But something good was we had to keep racing; we had to race for 20 more laps. So my head went into race mode again: You've got to make up some places, we've got to take some points home.
    "It's frustrating because the team really needs a win like that. But we're really showing everybody how much potential this team has and where the team is heading."
    At Phoenix NASCAR penalized Montoya for speeding on pit road, but did not penalize Brian Vickers, who was running right with Montoya on pit road. NASCAR later apologized to Montoya for that discrepancy.
    Montoya Friday didn't want to talk about Phoenix: "The Phoenix incident is a past incident.
    "Things like that -- whether you're right or wrong, or they're right or wrong, today we can't change it."
   So Montoya wants to accentuate the positive: "At least we showed to everybody how much potential this team has. The team is doing an amazing job. We've just got to keep doing it.
    "Making the chase is right now a realistic possibility. When I said at the beginning of the year our goal is to make the chase, probably 90 percent of you guys were laughing. But realistically I think we can.
    "In this sport you need a lot of consistency, a lot of team work. And we are better now -- From myself driving better, the crew chief doing a better job, engineering.
    "We're building better cars, we're getting better motors.
   "It was nice to see the performance in Indy…but this is one of our worst tracks. Yes, we finished eighth last time, but it was pure luck because it was a fuel mileage race. I got lapped here – It's a 50-something-second lap, and I got lapped. That's how bad we were.
   "We're bringing the Indy car here; that doesn't mean we're going to run as well as we did at Indy.
    "Anyone who finds any similarities between this track and Indy, well, I don't see it."


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