Juan Pablo Montoya says he is solely focused on the points standings as he continues to aim at making the Chase for the Sprint Cup this year.
The Colombian finished sixth last weekend at Sonoma, running an unusually conservative race in the first road course event of the season, which allowed him to get back inside the top 12 in the drivers' standings.
The 33-year-old, who is having his best season thus far since he switched to NASCAR from Formula 1, says he is trying to be wise in order to achieve his goal of being one of the title contenders.
"You've got to be smart about what you do," said Montoya. "I felt we had a decent car, I didn't think we had the best car there but I think if we would have pushed we probably could have had a little better result but at the end of the day I'd rather finish sixth than 25th being spun by somebody.
"That happened last year. [Marcos] Ambrose spun me last year and I wanted to avoid that especially in a place like Sonoma, where everybody runs on the lead lap. You get spun, you don't go back to 15th or 20th -- you go back to 35th, and you don't want to do that with 10 laps to go."
The Earnhardt Ganassi Racing driver says he does not find his conservative approach to side by side racing to be frustrating given his usually aggressive style. He believes his team does not yet have the speed to be contending for wins regularly, so his focus remains on trying to be consistent enough in order to be safely in the top 12 in the points when the Chase field is set at Richmond in September.
"It's all about making the Chase and we're doing everything in our power from the team to myself to the crew chief making the calls and being smart," said Montoya. "I think if you could run like top five every week then you could get away with being a little more aggressive. We're not. We're running top 10 not top five. We're making a lot of changes in the car, finding new ways to make the car faster.
"I don't think we want to bring this to the wire. It might happen but if we can avoid going to Richmond being on the bubble, that would be awesome."
Montoya is currently 12th in the drivers' standings, three points ahead of Kasey Kahne and nine behind 11th-placed Mark Martin.