Reigning Ford 400 Winner Notches Win No. 2

Chain-reaction wreck Takes out Top Contenders including Montoya

This chain-reaction wreck eliminated many of the top contenders for the race victory at Texas including Juan Pablo Montoya, Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart (Photo Courtesy: Todd Warshaw, Getty Images Sport)

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 last year, Mark Martin seized the opportunity with a fourth-place finish that shaved 111 points off of his second-place deficit in a Championship Chase that annually is decided at Homestead-Miami Speedway. For ticket information on 2010 Ford Championship Weekend (Nov. 19-21), stay tuned to THEChampionshipTrack.com or call (866) 409-RACE.

And while JJ took home the season hardware in Miami last fall, it was Denny Hamlin who took the checkered flag at the Ford 400 and will look to defend his win at Homestead-Miami Speedway this fall. But with his win at Texas in Race 8 of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, he may be in the running for a Championship of his own.

Hamlin claimed his second win of the year at Texas after rain postponed the race until Monday. He claimed the lead of the race following the final restart, which followed a multi-car incident that took out some of the main contenders of the day with 17 laps remaining. including South Florida’s Juan Pablo Montoya (see sidebar).

“It was just one of those days where every run, we got our car better,” said Hamlin. “Every run, the pit crew did a good job of getting us some spots. It all paid off in the long run. We had one of those days where it showed how strong our race team is.”

Four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Jeff Gordon led 124 laps and looked to be the favorite to grab his second victory at Texas; his first came last season to leave Homestead-Miami Speedway—site of NASCAR Ford Championship Weekend Nov. 19-21—as the only NASCAR track to hold Gordon winless.

But following a four-tire change on Lap 317, Gordon made contact with Tony Stewart while charging to the front. Stewart was then hit by the Roush-Fenway Racing Ford of Carl Edwards, which turned into Gordon and ignited the chaos on the frontstretch that collected Montoya among others.

Said Gordon: “I got clipped in the right rear, and [it] turned me in the wall. Just glad I am OK. Man, what a race car. Gosh, what a race car we had. That is what I am bummed out the most about right now, is that we just had such an awesome race car.”

Johnson had luck on his side late in the race, as he was forced to alter his pit strategy due to a damaged left front tire, a consequence of contact with teammate Gordon while battling for second place on Lap 241.

“We had that left front tire go down, and then we were fortunate enough to catch a caution when we did,” said Johnson, who finished second. “There at the end, the car was just dragging the nose too bad for the first couple of laps. I think we sat too long and the front tire pressures dropped.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. had been a factor at the front of the field for most of the race but found himself shuffled down to eighth place after leading seven times for 46 laps. The No. 88 jumped three places to seventh in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings, the Champion of which will be crowned this fall during Ford Championship Weekend Nov. 19-21.

"We have a lot to work on still,” said Earnhardt Jr. “Right there at the end, I just couldn't hold them off. We're getting better, but we still have a lot to work on to get better. AMP Energy and National Guard, I appreciate their support. We're a good team. We can be a great team, and we just have to keep working."

Perennial fan favorite Martin jumped to 10th in the NASCAR Championship standings after finishing sixth in the first race for the new Sprint Cup Series spoiler on a 1.5 mile oval—the same distance as Homestead-Miami Speedway, where a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion will be crowned Nov. 21.

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.

Talladega Superspeedway is the site for Race 9 of 36 in NASCAR’s 2010 Sprint Cup campaign (Sunday, 1 p.m. on FOX), which culminates with the crowning of a Champion at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 21.

On The Move: South Florida’s Montoya

Montoya at Texas

“We’re behind on points from where we need to be, but we've got a car capable of the win.”

South Florida’s Juan Pablo Montoya believes that he has a car capable of winning every race, and he showed it again in Race 8 of 36 in NASCAR’s 2010 Sprint Cup campaign en route to Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 19-21).

Montoya ran up front for most of the race at Texas until being forced to pit after brushing the wall. His Earnhardt Ganassi Racing team effected quick repairs and put Montoya back into contention for the race win. Unfortunately, however, the No. 42 was collected in a wreck that ended his day.

“We’re behind on points from where we need to be, but we've got a car capable of the win,” said Montoya. “So, that playing into account, that helps us. Where you look at last year, we needed to finish the races because a good week was a 10th place [and] a bad week was a 15th place; where now, a good week is a Top 5.

“So that allows you to get away with mistakes and crashes and things, but we're still behind where we need to be. We still need to finish the races. And we still need to score pretty big."

On a restart with 17 laps to go, some cars had four fresh tires and others had two. And that’s when the major scrambling ensued; Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart got to arguing over real estate, and Carl Edwards weighed in for the spot on the race track when Stewart got sideways. The resulting wreck decimated some very competitive cars, including that belonging to Montoya.

South Florida’s NASCAR hometown’er continues his pursuit of the Sprint Cup Series Championship—to be crowned Nov. 21 on his “home track” of Homestead-Miami Speedway—on Sunday, April 25, at Talladega Superspeedway. The race will be broadcast on FOX at 1 PM.

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