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Juan Pablo Montoya: On the championship charge...and no regrets about that TV blowoff

  Juan Pablo: maybe he needs to talk with Richard Petty about some of the finer points of NASCAR fan etiquette (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   DOVER, Del.
   Juan Pablo Montoya. Just when you think you're starting to under him, he changes on you.
   Now, three years into this part of his career, the Formula One star is not only a full-fledged real stock car racer, but he's bidding for the NASCAR championship.
   And he's racing for wins. Indianapolis. Loudon….
   On the front row for Sunday's Dover 400, Montoya says this high-grip concrete track – though it's a bear for many drivers – "has probably been one of the easiest tracks for me, because it actually has a lot of grip….so you can actually feel like you are driving the car like what I was used to. This is the closest feeling I get."
   Remember last week's TV blowoff, that faux pas, when Montoya, after an hour's worth of satellite TV interviews with various stations around the country to help NASCAR promote the championship race?
   Well, Montoya is expressing no remorse.
   He – and NASCAR itself – was roundly criticized by the Fox affiliate station in Sacramento, Calif., for the short-shrift, which the broadcaster said was part of the reason for NASCAR's general decline over the past two years.
   Montoya's side:
   "It was simple. It was a deal we did with NASCAR from four to five and I told them this was the last interview and it was five minutes until five o’clock and I finished the interview and they plugged somebody else without telling them I was done and that was it. NASCAR made an honest mistake and it was a misunderstanding. That was it."
    Any remorse about being portrayed in such a bad light, and the sport too? Is he bothered by it all?
   "Not really," Montoya said. "It really doesn't.
   "NASCAR knows what happened. I know what happened. The team knows what happened.
    "I don't care. If they like me, good. If they don't, I can't help that everybody here likes me, can I?
    "Come on, like they say, stuff happens I guess."


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