Say what you want about Chip Ganassi and Juan Pablo Montoya, they’re cut from the same cloth.
By that I mean both of these guys are straight shooters. Arguably that isn’t always a good thing. One thing is sure though, you always know what they’re thinking and feeling.
After the conclusion of the “regular season” at Richmond, Lee Spencer quoted a very animated Ganassi.
Personally I wish she would have used the preferable AP style for expletives (first letter of the word and then hyphens for each of the letters). I’d like to know exactly “what” finally learned to drive. This quote though is classic Ganassi: passionate and honest.
During interviews if he doesn’t want to talk about something, or just flat out won’t talk about something, he’ll more than openly tell you not to waste your time asking the question. There are many reporters out there that have been on the receiving end of this. While he can certainly be difficult, he’s honest; and to be honest with you I kind of like that.
And how about Montoya. This is a guy who is known for speaking his mind to the press. If he’s pissed off he’s going to tell you. If you don’t believe me check his radio audio from the Brickyard this year: “I swear on my wife and kids!”
Or how about when ESPN/ABC’s Vince Welch asked him about some troubles with Kasey Kahne after the race at Pocono, and Montoya chastised him for trying to create a conflict that wasn’t there.
The best though, and you may have missed this, is the walking out of the interview before it ever began.
Let me set this up. Montoya was doing satellite interviews for NASCAR during the little New York trip last week. He was apparently told the interviews would be done at 5 p.m. Without fail Montoya held them to that. With one interview to go, and the little hand on the 5, as a random sports anchor got ready to interview him, Montoya said he was done, took off his mic and left.
As a side note check out the video if you can. The sports anchor at this Fox station in Sacramento, clearly put off by Montoya walking out on him, goes on a tirade against NASCAR. He starts off by saying he isn’t going to make a ‘federal case’ of the situation and then goes on to do just that. He says NASCAR’s popularity is waning and says the money is leaving and stuff like this is probably the reason why. Needless to say it was a little more than pitiful this guy created a story about not getting a story (don’t get me wrong, I would have been pissed too, but get a grip). The moral of the story is, Montoya hates fans in Northern California. I digress.
This too is classic Montoya. He has very set expectations of situations and you better be prepared to meet those expectations or he’ll let you know (often colorfully) he isn’t happy. Juan just recently got a new PR person, and I’ll tell you, I don’t envy her.
All the above said, I think it’s refreshing Montoya doesn’t conform to a polished image. He’s like the Tony Stewart of old. I think it’s good for the sport, though not always good for those covering the sport.
Good or bad, these two guys are a match made in Heaven. They’re passionate about and committed to their sport and while they’re upbringing was worlds apart, they’re actually very similar. And good or bad, no one will ever accuse them of playing coy.
P.S. You can probably add Felix Sabates to the above list. He’s generally not afraid to speak his mind either.