Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates driver Juan Pablo Montoya is no stranger to the podium. From Indy to Formula One and NASCAR, the Colombian-born racer has won several major races since his rookie season, including the 2000 Indy 500, Formula One’s 2003 Monaco Grand Prix and two Sprint Cup races.
But Juan has also had his share of challenges—including this season, where he finished 22nd in the Sprint Cup Series. We sat down with the Target driver to reflect on the past year, his family’s plans for the off-season and what’s to come in 2013.
Juan Pablo Montoya before a race with our very own Dustee Tucker Jenkins
This season was a challenge for the team.
JPM: It’s been really tough, and I’ve been unlucky with a lot of crashes. We have a lot to work on for next season—starting with our engines. We know we’re getting new engines for 2013. Several things need to happen to get back on track, but we feel that the engine is a first and crucial step. Cars aren’t magic; cars are just cars. If the engine doesn’t work, you can’t win. So that’s a priority and focus for us right now.
What are your plans for the off-season?
JPM: First, we’re going to regroup as a team and delve into what we can do better for next season. Make sure we’re all on the same page. Despite the challenges this year, we’re really optimistic about next season. We want to win. Then, I’m going to spend some time with my family. I travel almost every single weekend—it’s hard to be away from Connie and the kids. Honestly, I’m excited to just sit still and go slow for a while.
Is your family excited for the holiday season?
JPM: Oh, we love it. It’s all “¡Feliz Navidad!” around the house. Connie has already been running around Target picking up presents for the kids… and hopefully me. Ha!
What’s on your family’s wish list this year?
JPM: My daughters, Manuela and Paulina, are all about the toys—everything from Barbie dolls to Furbies. I had no idea those were popular again! And Sebastian is actually racing already, so I think I’ll get him some gear. It’s mostly just go-karts, but he’s having so much fun.
So he’s already following in your footsteps?
JPM: Oh yeah—he’s been beating me at NASCAR X-Box games for years. It’s only a matter of time until he beats me on the track.