While he's 37 and while he had a magnificent open‑wheel career, why is a 37‑year‑old, in your opinion, able to come back after so many years away from open‑wheel and run against these young kids? And also, Juan, any regrets in the fact that you spent seven years in NASCAR and perhaps didn't live up to the potential that you came in with?
TIM CINDRIC: Yeah, I think just to answer my part of the question, I look at Helio, I look at Dario (Franchitti); I look at the fact that Juan has been a winner in everything he's been in, and I think that what convinced us was really, you know, his overall dedication to this program. We didn't have to drag him along and we didn't have to beg him. We didn't have to convince him that open‑wheel or Indy was anything different than NASCAR or any of those discussions. It was for him more about, "I want to drive for you guys and I want to try and figure out how to win for you guys," and that's really what we're looking for.
You know, the age and all the rest of it, I think you can make arguments both ways. I look and Helio is sitting there leading the points, and he's not a young pup, either. But I think that time will tell for how all that plays out. The bottom line for us is that Juan has been a winner.
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: For me personally, you can't say that – I don't feel like I wasted seven years in NASCAR. I think it's been a great experience for me. It made me a lot better driver. I learned things that I think if I would have stayed in open‑wheel I would never have learned. You become a lot smarter driver. I mean, we didn't have the success we wanted, but we did win races; we made the Chase. If you look over the Ganassi history, the only driver that's ever made the Chase for that team, it's me. So, do I want more success? Yeah, of course I want it, and the reason we are here today is because I want more success. I want to win races, and I know that it's going to be a an uphill battle mentally, physically, and learning everything again. But I have no doubt in my mind that I can do it.
How seriously did you consider the Furniture Row offer, or was it just the allure of Penske just make it pretty easy decision?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: With Furniture Row, we made some progress there and I went and visited their shop. It's a small shop but they really have all the tools to get the job done and they showed it this year with the car making the Chase and everything. It comes down to the same thing: Winning. They are a very good team, but they are there, and I've been there, and from there to win, it's a long step. They are giving me here at Penske all the tools to be able to get the job done, and I think, again, having Will and having Helio as teammates it's going to be for my benefit and I hope that I can bring a lot to the table to help them as well.
Tim, would there be any consideration in bringing Juan in for any NASCAR races, particularly Daytona, the road courses or the Brickyard?
TIM CINDRIC: I've learned in this business never to say no; never to say never. We certainly haven't had any of those discussions, but just like with all of our drivers, if there's something that makes sense out there, we certainly wouldn't close the door on it. But certainly, his focus will be on IndyCar racing with us.
Many people around the world will be watching with excitement and interest. You talked about your age and conditioning and all that's going to be required to re-adjust to IndyCar racing and so forth. But let me just be a little rude and put it in the words of your rudest fans, Juan, who say that you are too old and too fat to race and win in IndyCars. Again, you had touched on it, but what do you say to people that say that to you?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Part of them are right, and the difference between rude and being realistic is when you're realistic, you work on it, and I know what I need to do. I've been there before and I can do it and I already started now.
Even before I agreed to make this deal, I was working on it. My goal has been to be in a winning car and to be in a winning car anywhere you have to be ready. Let's put it this way, when we get to St. Pete (season opener next spring), then we'll talk.
For your career in NASCAR and IndyCar, you've been in red cars with the mindset against the Penske cars. How much of a mental shift will it be when you go against your old team?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: It's exciting. I mean, if you think about it, I lived that before in Formula 1 between Williams and McLaren, and that was fun. Honestly, when I raced the IndyCars, the guys to beat – you were looking where the Penskes are, and to be driving one of those, it's fun. I'm really excited. But the No. 1 thing is the mental preparation. We know how we need to do this, and I think here with everybody at Team Penske, we can work together to get to that goal.
I know you said you have a great relationship with Chip, but is this going to be awkward at all, like at the end of this season? I know sometimes you tweet about your support of the Ganassi IndyCar drivers. Are you now going to be rooting for the Penske IndyCar drivers going down the stretch here at IndyCar while you're still driving for Chip and NASCAR?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: I think I'm going to have a little white flag – I'm going to be very neutral there. For one side, I'm still committed with Chip and the NASCAR program for the next nine races. We all are working very hard to get that oval win for the end of the year and keep running as good as we can; get a couple poles and do whatever we can to the end of the year. I mean, this is something that in my time off I'm going to focus on; I mean, do all the training and do everything necessary to get ready for next year. But I think it's going to be fun. It's going to be like mixed emotions watching the last few IndyCar races.
You'll be returning to open‑wheel next year and getting to play with some of your old friends like Franchitti, (Tony) Kanaan, etc. Have you had a chance to speak with some of them and get a feel for their interest in revisiting the CART battles from a decade or so ago?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: No, they told me to keep it quiet. I think I had signs on my forehead coming out trying not to say anything. You know, I'm definitely going to talk to Dario and Scott (Dixon), as well as Tony. It was funny, because the other day, I put out a Tweet that I was in the gym, and Kanaan responded, “Oh, training for IndyCars” or something. No, actually Marino Franchitti put "IndyCars?" And then Kanaan responded to that and said, "Watch your shoulders, the steering is really heavy."
You are a driver with credentials that with the work you've put in, could do the double over Memorial Day weekend – the Indy 500 and the Coca‑Cola 600. Would you like to have a crack at that?
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: Right now we are focusing on the IndyCar program for next year, and as Tim said, if something comes up and something makes sense that we can work, we'll do it. But I've really got to focus in on what I'm going to do next year. I don't want to be too distracted. We didn't come here to play. We came here to get the job done and that's what we want to do.