Martin, Montoya eye Miami: “It's closer than you think, and you're standing on the brink”
Mark Martin rallied for a second-place finish and maintained a 10-point lead in the Sprint Cup point standings heading into Kansas(photo courtesy: Jeff Zelevansky, Getty Images Sport)
In the 1970s, rock band “Kansas” released a single that included the lyrics “’Cause it's closer than you think, and you're standing on the brink.” How applicable for the contending drivers heading into Chase Race 3 at Kansas Speedway this weekend—with just seven races remaining before it all culminates in Miami with Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 22.
The man leading the Chase pack, Mark Martin, actually may enter Kansas feeling more confident after overcoming what looked at one point like it would be a rough day at Dover International Speedway. Despite some struggles with restarts in Chase Race 2, driver and crew stepped up to rally for a second-place finish and maintain a 10-point lead in the Sprint Cup point standings, the winner of whom will be crowned at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 22. Great seats are available right now for Ford Championship Weekend, starting at only $55 .
"I'm really happy with the result," said Martin, who cut into Jimmie Johnson's lead in the closing laps. "You know, we missed it just a little bit. Our car was just not right on, and it showed itself quite a bit on the restarts.”
Mark Martin overcame very windy conditions during Friday's qualifying at Kansas Speedway to capture the pole for Sunday’s 400-mile race-- the third race in the "Chase for the Sprint Cup" Championship which will be crowned at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 22.
Martin, the current points leader and 2005 race winner at Kansas, turned a lap around the 1.5-mile track at 175.758 m.p.h. for his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series- leading and career-high seventh pole of the season. The 50-year-old driver also recorded his 48th pole in his Sprint Cup career.
“Today was a tough day on my heart, and it's making it very strong," Martin said. "That was such a stressful day and a very stressful lap. If my heart survives the next couple of years, I'm sure it will make it to 100."
Martin’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. qualified second while South Florida’s Juan Pablo Montoya will roll off 14th for Sunday’s race at Kansas
"It's a good front row starting spot for us and we need that type of performance and have needed it for some time," said Earnhardt Jr. "It's got all the guys on the team excited and we'll see how that rolls over in tomorrow's practice and see if we can carry some momentum throughout the day and try to turn out a pretty good race car for Sunday."
While Martin has the utmost respect for his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Martin isn't buying into the fact that just because Johnson won at Dover he is going to run away with what would be an unprecedented fourth consecutive Sprint Cup title in Miami.
"I'm pretty sure that dude's Superman," Martin said of the driver of the No. 48. "And, you know, I have had the opportunity to see up close. I'm telling you, I see why he is so successful; I see why. He works harder at it than anybody else, I think, on the circuit."
That doesn't mean, though, that Martin is willing to hand Johnson the Sprint Cup Trophy that will be crowned at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 22, following the Ford 400.
"Only been two races," Martin said of the Chase. "All depends on what happens in the next four or five [or] six."
Another confident driver on the road to Championship Weekend in Miami is South Florida resident Juan Pablo Montoya, who sits third in the Sprint Cup Championship standings entering Chase Race 3.
“I think our car so far seems to run good everywhere, so I couldn't come and tell you we are not going to run good here or there,” Montoya said heading into Kansas. “We are bringing our best equipment every week, and we are hoping that's good enough.
“You know, I'm sure there's going to be a week where it's not going to be fast enough, and I think everybody is going to go through that,” he added. “And then when that happens, you've just got to see how good you go and how far off you're going to be, you know what I mean? You can't hope to try to win a Championship and run 20th.”
…Certainly not on Nov. 22nd in Miami, you cannot. And you can be there, in great seats that 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.