With a few days to reflect, even Juan Pablo Montoya admits it was one hell of a ride.
The normally unflappable Columbian spoke to the media yesterday about the fiery crash that destroyed both his Target Chevrolet and a track jet dryer at Daytona International Speedway late Monday night, saying, “I’m pretty lucky, to be honest.”
|Montoya exits his burning race car.|
A broken trailing arm sent Montoya’s Earnhardt Ganassi Racing machine slamming into the track dryer at an estimated 90 mph, puncturing its fuel tank and igniting 200 gallons of jet fuel in a horrifying mushroom cloud that soon enveloped much of the speedway’s third turn in flame.
“I was like, ‘Oh, this is going to hurt,’” recalled Montoya of his uncontrolled slide. “But it wasn’t too bad. (There was) a little flame for a second, but it wasn’t much. It didn’t even get hot. I saw the flames everywhere and said, ‘I better get out of this fast.’”
At first, he said others were more shaken by the crash than he. “People were kind of amazed that I walked out of that one,” he smiled. “Honestly, everybody was pretty amazed.” After watching video replays of the crash, however, Montoya said he understands the uproar. “There’s actually a shot that shows the impact,” he said. “I’m pretty lucky. The bright side is you can joke about it.”
Montoya and crew chief Chris Heroy both said NASCAR has examined the battered, blistered remains of the car and has no issue with either the materials or construction of the failed part. Sources say the sanctioning body may revise its requirements for trailing arm construction before the Sprint Cup Series runs its next restrictor plate race at Talladega Superspeedway May 6.
Montoya, meanwhile, continues to accentuate the positive, calling his 36th-place Daytona finish, “a very good team bonding experience.”