Montoya, Hollywood Celebs Take Center Stage in Miami
Montoya in just his third season proves to be a force to be reckoned with in 2010 (photo courtesy: John Harrelson, Getty Images Sport)
► South Florida-resident Juan Pablo Montoya made NASCAR history this year by qualifying for the Chase for the Sprint Cup. After achieving international success in open-wheel racing, the Colombia native-turned-Miami resident became the first non-American born driver ever to qualify for the Sprint Cup “playoffs”—in just his third full-time year of NASCAR racing.
In those three years, Montoya has increases his average finishing position: He had an average finish of 22.67 in his first full year and pushed it to 13.57 in 2009. While the driver of the No. 42 fell short of a bid for Ford 400 victory on his “home track” of Homestead-Miami Speedway—he and Tony Stewart made news with a spirited on-track tangle—Montoya did legions of fans in his home market proud.
► The stars of Hollywood collided with the pillars of NASCAR past at Homestead-Miami Speedway during Jimmie Johnson’s run into history.
Homestead-Miami Speedway celebrated the 40-year anniversary of man walking on the moon by honoring legendary astronaut Buzz Aldrin as Honorary Race Chairman for the Ford 400. The second human to step foot on the moon headlined pre-race ceremonies, leading the pace car and race field in a 1969 Ford Mustang.
Tony Award-winning actress Anika Noni Rose—star of “Dreamgirls” and voice of lead-character Tiana in Disney’s upcoming film “The Princess and the Frog”—performed the national anthem; and Mike Rowe—host of Discovery Channel’s Emmy-nominated series “Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe”—served as Ford 400 Grand Marshal.
► NASCAR legends were enshrined in the Homestead-Miami Speedway Hall of Champions in the Champions Club high above Turn 1 on Day 2 of Ford Championship Weekend. Inaugural inductees included Sprint Cup Champions “The Gentleman” Ned Jarrett, “The Matador” Bobby Allison and newly crowned four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson.
► Joey Logano etched his name in the record books in becoming the youngest driver in NASCAR history to be named Rookie of the Year. When asked what he would do for an encore in 2010, Logano said: “I’m always a day-by-day person, I never try to look too far ahead.”