Juan Pablo Montoya says he feels the pressure is off him now that he is in the Chase and is enjoying his maiden shot at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title.
The Colombian starts 11th in the standings in the first race of the play-off, and the 100th of his Cup career, at Loudon this weekend. He is only 40 points behind leader Mark Martin and despite not having won a race this season yet, he feels no pressure by being one of the title contenders.
"I'm loving it. It's kind of nice having like zero pressure right now. It's cool," said Montoya, who hopes to be in the hunt for the title at Homestead in 10 weeks' time. "You can't change what's going to happen, can you? You just go out there and do your best and hopefully your best is good enough. I think as long as you go home thinking and knowing you did all you could, that's what you can do.
"You've got to look back and say okay was it good enough and if it wasn't why and learn from it and make ourselves better every week. Hopefully by the end of the 10 races you've still got a shot at it."
Montoya -- who turns 34 on Sunday -- will run a new car at Loudon this weekend and believes his team is ready to provide him with the best equipment it has for the final ten races. He visited Earnhardt Ganassi's headquarters on Wednesday and said the mood in the team is at its best.
"We're going to be bringing our best cars every week to make sure that we don't leave anything on the table," said Montoya. "In Richmond we took the same car we ran there in the spring, everywhere else we've been bringing new cars and new things. I think here we're supposed to have a really good car. We think we are bringing our best equipment and everybody else will as well. I don't think you are going to see much more of a difference.
"The mood in the team is incredible. They're pumped up, they're excited and they can see that we can do it. We're competitive and they see that so it's nice."
The Colombian is the first non-American driver ever to reach the playoffs in the Sprint Cup series. When asked if he would like to have the distinction of being the first foreign driver to win the title, he said that is not something he is aiming at.
"If I win the Cup, cool. That's it," he said. "That's not a big deal for me. I don't get any special treatment or anything. I wouldn't mind getting some but I don't."
Montoya started the Chase for the Sprint Cup by setting the pace in the first practice session at Loudon on Friday.