Another Points Shake-Up on Cup Horizon?

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Last fall at Texas, the race began with Jimmie Johnson holding a 184-point lead in the race for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship, which again will be crowned this year at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 21). But when the No. 48 crashed on Lap 3, Mark Martin seized the opportunity with a fourth-place finish that shaved 111 points off of his second-place deficit.

After the race, Johnson was left to wonder what was left of his Miami Championship aspirations as the early race accident saw his formidable lead evaporate: “It’s still a respectable lead,” JJ said. “Seventy-three [points] with two to go is a good position to be in, [but] I hate that we gave up all theses points tonight.”

With this weekend’s race back on the same southwest asphalt, there will be an entire field of Sprint Cup drivers hoping for déjà vu, with South Florida resident Juan Pablo Montoya among them. Montoya entered last weekend’s race in Phoenix ranked 25th in the point standings but jumped four notches after leading 104 laps and finishing fifth in a race won by Ryan Newman. The driver of the No. 42 will be looking to gain a little more ground this weekend on current points-leader Johnson.

Texas is the site for Race 8 of 36 in NASCAR’s 2010 Sprint Cup campaign (Sunday, 3 p.m. on FOX), which culminates with the crowning of a Champion at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 21. For ticket information, stay tuned to THEChampionshipTrack.com or call (866) 409-RACE.

NASCAR’s most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., is considered a strong contender for race victory on Sunday in hopes of gaining ground on hoisting the shiniest hardware on Nov. 21 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2000, he captured his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory at Texas.

Earnhardt Jr. sits 10th in the Sprint Cup Championship standings after seven races and the No. 88 is looking to rebound from Phoenix, where he was wounded early in the race after hitting debris. A gutsy two-tire pit stop put Junior solidly in the Top 10 on the restart and he wound up 12th.

“We have got a long way to go, I’ll tell you that,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “We feel pretty confident about getting better, but we still feel like we have a lot to work and a lot more that we can do better.”

All three of NASCAR’s premier racing series—the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series—again will crown Champions during Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 19-21). For ticket information, stay tuned to THEChampionshipTrack.com or call toll free (866) 409-RACE.

On The Move: South Florida’s Montoya

Montoya at Vegas

Juan Pablo Montoya’s fifth place finish at Phoenix was his second Top 5 of the season and jumped him four spots in the points standings (to 21st). The South Florida resident heads to Texas this weekend for Race 8 of 36 in NASCAR’s 2010 Sprint Cup campaign, which culminates with the crowning of a Champion at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 21. Nineteen races remain until the 12-race Chase for the Sprint Cup begins.

"Texas is going to be interesting; it's going to be the first 1.5-mile on a spoiler,” said Montoya. “That is going to make it quite challenging for everybody to see how the car changes. I don't think it will be that different, but it will be fun, I think.”

With the fifth-place finish at Phoenix in Race 7, Montoya and his crew picked up two Contingency Awards, serving notice the No. 42 team just might be a force to be reckoned with this year. Montoya, who started seventh at Phoenix, was presented with the “Mobil 1 Command Performance Driver of the Race” post-race, while veteran crew chief Brian Pattie picked up his second “DIRECTV Crew Chief of the Race” award of the season.

“We are a Top 5 team, easily,” said Montoya, who has led laps in five of the seven races this season, including 104 of the 375 at Phoenix. “We run in the Top 5 every week. We’re there [and] always one of the fastest cars in practice, qualifying, even at race pace.”

Indeed, Montoya’s strong performance in the desert showed signs the team is starting to regain the form that propelled it into NASCAR’s 2009 Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, crowned annually at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 19-21, 2010). For ticket information, stay tuned to THEChampionshipTrack.com or call (866) 409-RACE.

 

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