In search of a “4-peat” in Miami: JJ serves notice
South Florida’s Montoya up to 3rd in Championship standings with his fourth place finish at Dover (photo courtesy: Geoff Burke, Getty Images Sport)
Since the inception of the Chase format, the winner of the Dover Chase race has yet to go on to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship, which will be crowned Nov. 22 at Homestead-Miami. For Juan Pablo Montoya and Mark Martin, this may very well be a good thing.
The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship heated up Sunday at Dover as 50-year-old fan-favorite Martin and South Florida-resident Montoya came up short of three-time reigning Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson, winner of Chase Race 2.
Montoya—seeking his first Sprint Cup Championship Nov. 22 on his “home track” of Homestead-Miami Speedway—did jump to third in the NASCAR Championship points standings with just seven races remaining before a Champion is crowned in Miami.
With his fourth win of the year, Johnson cut the lead of his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Martin, to 10 points.
No winner of the Dover race in the fall has ever gone on to win the NASCAR Championship, to be crowned at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 22. That said, if any driver can reverse the “Dover winner doesn’t win the Championship” trend, it's Johnson. Should he capture the 2009 Championship in Miami, he’d be the first driver in the history of NASCAR to win four straight.
While Johnson won the battle, Martin (finished 2nd) and Montoya (4th) again served notice that they will be forces to deal with as the Chase bears down onHomestead-Miami Speedway for the Championship finale on Nov. 22. Montoya and points-leader Martin are separated in the Chase standings only by Johnson (2nd).
“At the end of the day, all 10 races pay points,” said Montoya, who was second only to pole-sitter Johnson in qualifying Friday of Dover weekend. “It’s not like you go to Loudon and they give you 10 points, and you come to Dover and they give you 100. You’ve got to run good everywhere. If you don’t, you try to rescue as many points as you can and move on.”
At Dover, Martin and Montoya made a sandwich of Matt Kenseth (finished 3rd), as Chase drivers took eight of the Top 10 race spots on the road to the Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 22. Kurt Busch finishing fifth, followed by Jeff Gordon (6th), Kasey Kahne (8th), Tony Stewart (9th) and Ryan Newman (10th)
“Everybody who is fighting for the championship was up there,” Montoya said. “Either you finish up there or you don’t have a chance. It’s that simple. … There’s no magic or anything. We’re doing the best we can, and so far, so good.”
Montoya was confident heading into the race: “The morale of the team is really good right now,” he said. “It has been good all year. It hasn’t really changed because we’ve run good….Everybody’s happy. We’re having fun, we’re pushing ourselves and we’re trying to do the best we can, and it seems to be working so far, so I can’t complain about that.”
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