Martin, Montoya have High Hopes for Homestead-Miami Championship
Miami’s Juan Pablo Montoya demonstrated why he is widely considered as one of the best racecar drivers on the planet. Montoya drove like a man possessed and was on his way to the record books as the first to win both an Indy 500 and a Brickyard 400 crown before being assessed a penalty. Montoya was the story of the day but Mark “The Kid” Martin, refused to allow anyone to drive away from him, as he stalks an elusive first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship.
Jimmie Johnson became the first driver to win the Brickyard 400 in back-to-back years and has locked his sights on another Championship that will be crowned at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 20-22. Jimmie Johnson stole a third victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway when a speeding penalty to Juan Pablo Montoya blew Sunday's race wide open.
Montoya led 116 laps and had a 5-second lead when he headed to pit road for a routine stop with 35 laps remaining. NASCAR flagged him for speeding on his way in, and the penalty knocked him out of contention.
"I swear on my children and my wife that I was not speeding!" Montoya shouted over his radio during the race. "There is no way!"
Montoya, 2000 winner of the Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR Championship contender, was relegated to an 11th-place finish at the Brickyard. Montoya slips to 10th place in the NASCAR Championship standings after his disappointing finish at Indy.
Homestead-Miami Speedway and Indy remain as two of the five tracks where fan favorite Martin has not found Victory Lane. Mark Martin restarted as the leader with 24 laps to go and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson lined up on his outside. Johnson sailed to the front and pulled away, only to have to hold off Martin over a nerve-racking final five circuits around the famed oval.
Martin, who at 50 became the oldest polesitter in Indy's 100 years, finished second and moved up two spots in the Championship standings to ninth.
"I would have liked to win it," Martin said following the race. "Just got beat by Superman."
Current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship points leader Tony Stewart, a two-time Brickyard winner, was third and could commiserate with Montoya's heartbreak.
"He never really was challenged all day," Stewart said. "He did a great job. I know what he's feeling like — he's got to be sick inside. He had the car, he had the talent to do it, he just made a mistake and it cost him."
The performance was reminiscent of Montoya's win in the 2000 Indy 500, when he led 167 of 200 laps in his first race at the storied track. His team celebrated his return Sunday with a retro paint scheme that duplicated that winning car.
"Actually reminded me of last time I led here to be honest," a calm Montoya said after the race. "I was cruise(ing). I was super fast.
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