Miami Momentum for Harvick, Stewart, 3 Ford drivers

Kyle Busch Wins at Dover After a Pit Road Penalty for Johnson

Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson were the two dominant cars at Dover before a pit road speeding violation relegated Johnson to a 16th place finish (photo courtesy: Jerry Markland, Getty Images Sport)

Race 12 of 36 en route to NASCAR’s Ford Championship Weekend in Miami (Nov. 19-21) is in the books, and Kevin Harvick’s seventh-place finish at Dover was enough to maintain a 69-point Sprint Cup Series lead over race-winner Kyle Busch.

Ford Racing’s Matt Kenseth—looking to capture a second Sprint Cup Championship during his sponsor’s title weekend in Miami Nov. 21—is in third place, 126 points off the pace, while four-time reigning Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson dropped to fourth, 131 points back. For ticket information to see the NASCAR Champions crowned at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 19-21, stay tuned to THEChampionshipTrack.com or call (866) 409-RACE.

Harvick continued his strong season after scoring his ninth Top 10 finish in 12 races to stay atop the Sprint Cup Series Championship standings. “Yeah, I think in the big picture, [the win] fits well for us because everybody knows that Darlington, Charlotte and Dover are probably our three biggest struggles,” Harvick said post-race. “And the month of May has always been tough for us, and so far we have got three Top 10s.”

Roush Fenway Racing drivers Kenseth, Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards all finished in the Top 10 at Dover, and all three reside in the Top 10 in the Sprint Cup points standings.

“Even when we’re running bad at other places, we usually run pretty respectable here; that’s because it’s one of our better tracks,” Kenseth said after his podium finish. “But no matter what we did today, we didn’t have a shot to win. The 48 [Johnson] and the 18 [Busch] had us, and when the 31 [runner-up Jeff Burton] had track position he was better, too.”

It was a two-car duel for most of the race between Busch and Johnson, the latter of whom seemed to have the stronger car. The turning point of the race came during final pit stops on Lap 363: Busch held a slight advantage exiting the pits, and when Johnson attempted to catch him he was cited for speeding—40.09 mph through a 35-mph timing loop, with NASCAR rules allowing for a five-mph tolerance.

Johnson lost a lap due to the penalty and ended up finishing 16th—one lap behind the leaders—while Busch had no trouble leading the final 35 laps for the victory.

“We came on there at the right point. I thought we were going to beat him, but I didn't know,” Busch said of Johnson. “The 48 was really, really fast today."

Tony Stewart of Stewart-Haas Racing took a step in the right direction in Race 12 by finishing ninth to gain four spots in the standing for the Sprint Cup Championship, to be crowned Nov. 21 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The two-time Champion sits 14th in the Cup standings, just 37 markers behind 12th-place Martin Truex Jr.

NASCAR’s most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., had a forgettable day, finishing 30th, and finds himself 43 points outside of the Top 12 Chase qualifiers—one of whom will claim the Championship crown at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 21. After Race 26, the Top 12 drivers are seeded according to the number of wins they accrue in the season's first 26 races, with each victory worth 10 bonus points.

Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing teammates Jamie McMurray and South Florida resident Juan Pablo Montoya (see sidebar) ended up 32nd and 35th, respectively, after both experienced suspension problems at nearly the same time. Next Saturday night in Charlotte, South Florida’s NASCAR hometown’er looks to join his colleagues for the Sprint Cup All-Star Race but needs the fan vote to participate.

The next points-race stop for Montoya, Earnhardt, Stewart, Johnson, Harvick and all of NASCAR’s elite is Charlotte on Sunday, May 30 (5:45 p.m., FOX TV), for Race 13 of 36 en route to crowning the Sprint Cup Champion in Miami Nov. 21. For ticket information, stay tuned to THEChampionshipTrack.com or call (866) 409-RACE.

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

On the Move: South Florida’s Montoya

Montoya Suffers to a 35th place Finish at Dover

“Within three laps, both [Earnhardt-Ganassi] cars broke down, and it really sucks.”

--South Florida resident Juan Pablo Montoya, whose car suffered a rear suspension issue in Race 12 of 36 at Dover


South Florida-resident Juan Pablo Montoya has started all 12 races of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. In the six he has completed, he has recorded a phenomenal four Top 5s and two Top 10s.

…But in the other six races, Montoya has been besieged by either mechanical failures or wrecks. And today was more of the same, as the driver of the No. 42 suffered a rear suspension failure at Dover that relegated him to a 35th-place finish. Interesting to note is that Earnhardt-Ganassi teammate Jamie McMurray was done for the day shortly thereafter with a similar suspension problem.

It was Race 12 of 36 en route to Ford Championship Weekend in Miami (Nov. 19-21). Montoya sits 112 points outside the Top 12 points standings to qualify for the Chase “playoffs,” which culminate with NASCAR’s series-crowning finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 21.

Said Montoya: “For us it was a really tough day. We struggled this weekend here for some reason; it is one of my best tracks. I think we found the reason why. I don’t if we changed a part of the car, but…everyone on this Earnhardt-Ganassi team has worked hard, and this Chevy car has been amazing. We have been really good every week. It is crazy.”

Next Saturday night in Charlotte, South Florida’s NASCAR hometown’er looks to join his colleagues for the Sprint Cup All-Star Race but needs the fan vote to participate.

“We normally run pretty good there,” Montoya said of Charlotte. “I really don’t pay too much attention to that [exhibition]. The way I look at it, it is good practice for the week after. If we get in, good; if we don’t, we have to really focus on the race [the following week] and get some points for the Chase. That is the most important.

“[The All-Star event] should be fun. I know our guys are in the Pit Crew Challenge, and I am going to try and go out there and cheer them on like I do every year. Should be fun; it is always a fun weekend because there is no pressure.”

In two weeks (Sunday, May 30), Montoya continues his pursuit of the Sprint Cup Series Championship—to be crowned Nov. 21 on his “home track” of Homestead-Miami Speedway—with Race 13 of 36 at Charlotte.

 

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