Ex-Champ Busch Looking for Title 2 in Miami

Teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin Battle at All-Star Race

Reigning Ford-400 Champion Denny Hamlin and teammate Kyle Busch were battling for $1 million at Saturday's All-Star Race before Busch crashed in the wall in the late stages of the race. (Photo courtesy: Geoff Burke, Getty Images Sport)

After an exhibition stop for the annual All-Star Race, NASCAR’s top drivers are back on the points-racing road to the 2010 Championship finale in Miami this fall. Next up is Charlotte for Race 13 of 36 en route to Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 19-21). Tickets to see NASCAR’s Champions crowned go on sale to the general public on July 3 (renewals already have mailed). For more information, stay tuned to THEChampionshipTrack.com or call (866) 409-RACE.

All-Star Race winner Kurt Busch not only took home a cool $1 million for his efforts but also may have picked up steam looking to improve on his current ninth-place position in the Sprint Cup standings. Eight of the All-Star Race’s Top 10 finishers currently sit 18th or higher in the Sprint Cup Standings, with Busch among them. With 13 races left before the Chase for the Sprint Cup field is set, the Top 12 qualifiers will be seeded according to the number of wins they accrue in the season's first 26 races, with each victory worth 10 bonus points.

"It's an unbelievable experience,” Busch said of his All-Star Race win. “It's something that you sit there and you look at the greats that have won this race—the ones that have had so many years go by in between the wins. Just to have an opportunity to go for it tonight, I felt like our Penske Dodge was right where it needed to be at the end.”

The field for Saturday’s All-Star Race was comprised of former Sprint Cup Series Champions, All-Star Race Champions and Sprint Cup race winners from 2009 and 2010. In addition, a couple of “wild card” entry spots were claimed by Ford Racing drivers Greg Biffle (via second-place finish in Sprint Showdown) and Carl Edwards, who won the fan vote for participation. Biffle is currently 7th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship standings—to be crowned during Ford’s title-sponsored Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 21—while Edwards is 10th.

"First of all, thank you so much to all the fans,” said a gracious Edwards. “We didn't win the million bucks, but whatever I made tonight will be donated to Speedway Children's Charity, and it's an honor to be voted in.”

There was a bit of drama in the final segment of the race as Joe Gibbs Racing-teammates Kyle Busch and reigning Ford 400-winner Denny Hamlin battled for the lead. In an effort to protect his lead, Hamlin pinched Kyle Busch into the wall, allowing older brother Kurt to cruise by for the victory.

“We talked about it, and basically Kyle was just frustrated,” said Hamlin, the preseason favorite to unseat reigning Sprint Cup Champion Jimmy Johnson. “He felt like he had a really good car. Me, I just came from the back with no practice and got back to the front where we needed to be, and I felt like if I gave up the lead right there then I was going to give up the win.”

Hamlin—who sits fifth in the Sprint Cup standings with a season-high three wins— the Busch brothers, Ford Racing’s Biffle and Edwards, and all of NASCAR’s elite will look to gain momentum in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 (5:45 p.m., FOX TV)—Race 13 of 36 en route to Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 19-21). Tickets to see NASCAR’s Champions crowned go on sale to the general public on July 3 (renewals already have mailed). For more information, stay tuned to THEChampionshipTrack.com or call (866) 409-RACE.

Kids FREE: Homestead-Miami Speedway is the only venue ever to host all of North America’s premier motorsports Championships, and we’re doing it again in 2010 as THE Championship Track will be the site of IZOD IndyCar Series Championship Weekend (Oct. 1-2) and NASCAR’s Ford Championship Weekend (Nov. 19-21). Kids 12 & under are admitted FREE to three of the five Championship finales. For tickets and more info, please call (866) 409-RACE or visit THEChampionshipTrack.com.


On The Move: South Florida's Montoya

Montoya practicing at Charlotte

"…It’s amazing how the whole team is doing.”

--South Florida resident Juan Pablo Montoya, who has four Top 5s and two Top 10s in the six Sprint Cup races he has completed in 2010

South Florida-resident Juan Pablo Montoya was the talk of NASCAR’s Chase “playoff season” last year, as the native Colombian became the first-ever non-American-born driver to qualify as a contender for the Sprint Cup Championship, crowned annually at Montoya’s “home track” of Homestead-Miami Speedway.

This year, Montoya has started all 12 races of the Sprint Cup season but has fallen victim to an inordinate amount of engine issues and on-track tangling—which makes the following stat all the more remarkable:

In the six races he has completed, South Florida’s hometown’er has recorded a phenomenal four Top 5s and two Top 10s to sit just 112 points back of the Top 12 Chase cut-off to be eligible for this year’s “playoffs,” which culminate with the 2010 Champion being crowned at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 21. Tickets to see NASCAR’s Champions crowned go on sale to the general public on July 3 (renewals already have mailed). For more information, stay tuned to THEChampionshipTrack.com or call (866) 409-RACE.

Montoya entered Saturday’s Sprint Showdown with hopes of driving his way into the second All-Star Race of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career. The driver of the No. 42 was hoping to earn a spot in the race by racing his way in via the Sprint Showdown or by virtue of winning the fan vote. Perhaps aided by his more than 145,719 Twitter followers, the brash Colombian entered All-Star week a Top 5 vote-getter in the fan vote but fell short of Carl Edward’s vote-winning total.

On Saturday, the No. 42 car proved to be the fastest in the Showdown’s only practice session. Rain, however, arrived during qualifying to drench his momentum, and Montoya started 14th with the grid being set by qualifying draw. The rain—and a scary moment in Turn 3 during the practice—weren’t enough to drain an optimistic Juan Pablo.

“Oh, you know, it’s amazing how the whole team is doing,” said Montoya. “It was hairy. You know I went in [to Turn 3] good and I got committed, and then I thought, ‘Nah, I’m not that committed,’ and I had to lift a little bit in the middle. But it still was a great lap.”

Soon after the green flag waved for the actual Sprint Showdown, Montoya was sidelined in a crash with Regan Smith.

“I was beside him [Smith] about five or six times, and he never gave me any room,” said Montoya. “I mean let’s be realistic: He wasn’t going to make it. And it got to the point, you know, when a guy gets there four or five times, you’ve got to let him go. And he just doesn’t understand that. That’s what happens when you start by a lottery and not by performance.”

This weekend, Montoya returns to his points-race pursuit of the Sprint Cup Series Championship, which will be crowned Nov. 21 on his “home track” of Homestead-Miami Speedway. Next up is Charlotte (5:45 p.m., FOX TV) for Race 13 of 36 en route to Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 19-21). Tickets to see NASCAR’s Champions crowned go on sale to the general public on July 3 (renewals already have mailed). For more information, stay tuned to THEChampionshipTrack.com or call (866) 409-RACE.

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