Miami Resident Juan Pablo Montoya Makes a Push for the Chase

Montoya celebrates in Victory Lane

JPM celebrates his first NASCAR Sprint Cup victory at Infineon in 2007 (photo: Rusty Jarrett, Getty Images)

Miami resident Juan Pablo Montoya is lurking just behind the struggle for 12th-place in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.  David Reutimann and Jeff Burton are locked in the closest struggle for 12th-place since the inception of the Chase format in 2004.  Reutimann finds himself in 13th-place trailing Jeff Burton by three points in the standings after a 19th-place finish at Michigan. 

The Chase for the Sprint Cup is a 10 race playoff system used by NASCAR to determine the champion at season’s end.  After 26 "regular season" races, the Top 12-ranked drivers, as determined by points accumulated during the season, advance to contend for the Cup championship. The 12 driver's championship points are reset with a bonus of 10 points awarded to each driver for each race win during the regular season. At the conclusion of the 10-race Chase, the driver with the highest point total is the Sprint Cup champion.  The race to make the chase is just the precursor for the Chase for the Cup Championship which will be decided at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 22.

Montoya has an advantage over the drivers that he is chasing for the coveted 12th position.  Juan Pablo Montoya is still regarded as one of the best road racers in the world since making his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates in the 2006 finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway where the Championship will be decided during Ford Championship Weekend Nov. 20-22. Montoya has won in many disciplines of racing which include IndyCar racing, Formula One, Grand-Am Rolex Sports Cars Series and NASCAR. 

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Infineon Raceway in California’s wine country this weekend.  Infineon Raceway is a 2.303-mile road course where Montoya captured his first NASCAR Sprint Cup win in 2007.  Montoya exhibited his road racing prowess after slicing through the field for the win after a 32nd-place qualifying effort.  Before winning at Infineon, Montoya stood in Victory Lane following a Nationwide Series race at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City for his first victory in NASCAR competition that same year.  Just like the darkening skies before a South Florida thunderstorm, the conditions may be conducive to the perfect storm for Juan Pablo Montoya.

Chasing NASCAR’s top 12 contenders for much of the 2009 season, Montoya finds himself only 43 points away from a berth in NASCAR’s elite Top-12. He’s coming off back-to-back Top-10 finishes after placing eighth at Pocono and sixth at Michigan.  Those solid finishes moved him into 14th-place in the season championship point standings. There are 11 races remaining before the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup begins at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. At Infineon, Montoya will be in his element when he climbs into the cockpit of his race car with aspirations of capturing his second Sprint Cup Series victory and climbing into the Top-12 in the Championship standings.  Montoya has yet to make the final 10-race shootout for the Cup since making the transition to NASCAR but his consistent runs in 2009 may ensure a spot in this year’s Chase for the Cup.  Montoya has enjoyed an average starting position of 13.5, completed 99.68% of the laps run this year and has yet to record a DNF (Did Not Finish) result.  A win at Sonoma may put Montoya in a position to contend for the NASCAR Sprint Cup crown which will be presented at his hometown track: Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov.20-22 during Ford Championship Weekend.

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