Miami momentum: Martin sits atop Sprint Cup leader board; Montoya serves notice with another Top 5
After a fourth-place finish today at Kansas, South Florida resident Juan Pablo Montoya sits third in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Championship standings(photo courtesy: John Harrelson, Getty Images Sport)
In Chase Race 3 at Kansas, Tony Stewart claimed his fourth victory of NASCAR’s 2009 season, but Mark Martin and South Florida’s Juan Pablo Montoya continue to show they may be the strongest players in an impressive field of 2009 Sprint Cup contenders. Only one will be crowned Champion at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 22, and great seats are still available.
With a fourth-place finish at Kansas, Montoya—the first non-American born driver ever to qualify for NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Chase “playoffs”—gained 14 points on standings leader Martin and 22 on second-place Jimmie Johnson.
Montoya is the only Sprint Cup driver to record a Top 5 in each of the first three Chase races and sits third in the NASCAR Championship standings, 51 points out of first place.
“The Target Chevy team gave me a great car, we just couldn't balance it the way we wanted,” said Montoya.. “It's OK—to finish fourth with the way the car was handling, I'm pretty happy.
“We fought hard all day to get the car handling right. It was a long day, but we got it together towards the end and were running fast lap times. Three Top 5 finishes in the first three Chase races is huge, you know. And it’s what we need to do every weekend.”
With a seventh-place finish (and 11 laps lead), fan-favorite and Florida resident Martin strengthened his lead in the Championship point standings to 18 points over three-time Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship will be decided at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 22, with Ford Championship Weekend tickets starting at just $35.
Four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Jeff Gordon finished second in the race to move to seventh in the standings. Just 103 separate the Top seven Chase contenders.
Two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Steward captured his 37th career victory to jump to fourth place in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship in Miami, just 67 points behind Martin.
“We got that track position at the end, and we had the luxury of being able to pick the inside or outside lane on the restart,” said Stewart. “I kind of struggled when I was stuck on the bottom on restarts today. So we took a gamble….and let those guys have to worry about catching us.”
Just six races remain on the road to NASCAR's series-crowning Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 20-22. Chase Race 4 is set for Sunday, Oct. 11, at Auto Club Speedway in California (3:15 p.m. EST/ABC-TV).
“We ran pretty good there last time we were there,” Montoya said of Auto Club Speedway. “It was very early in the season, and even then I think we had decent cars. Right now we’ve got much more competitive cars. Going to California, it’s going to be exciting.
“A Championship is beating everybody else. We come here to race and to win races, and to win races you’ve got to beat everybody else. We know that we’ve got good cars. We know we’re in a very good position, but at the end of the day it’s 10 [Chase playoff] races.”
Great seats are available NOW for the Nov. 20-22 Ford Championship Weekend. Enjoy the series-crowning Championship finales of all three of NASCAR’s top circuits: the Camping World Truck Series (Friday), Nationwide Series (Saturday) and Sprint Cup Series (Sunday). For Friday night’s Truck Championship, all kids 12 and under will be admitted FREE; on Saturday for the Nationwide Championship, all kids 12 and under are just $15; and for Sunday’s Sprint Cup Championship, adult tickets start at just $55. Click here to view great seats available for each race.