Points Race Tightens as Floridian Wins En Route to Miami

Reutimann wins at Chicago

David Reutimann surprised the field and took one step closer to making the chase and earning a chance at Miami glory. (Courtesy Jason Smith Getty Images Sport)

With a win at Chicagoland Speedway—Race 19 of 36 en route to Ford Championship Weekend (Nov. 19-21) in Miami—Tampa-area native David Reutimann climbed to within 96 points of 12th place, the cut-off to qualify for NASCAR’s Chase “playoffs.” Lock in tickets to see the 2010 Champion crowned at Homestead-Miami Speedway this fall by logging on to THEChampionshipTrack.com or by calling (866) 409-RACE.

NASCAR’s Top 12 drivers in the points standings as of Race 26 will qualify for the Chase “playoffs” that culminate with a Champion being crowned in Miami on Nov. 21. Despite a 34th-place finish with fuel-pressure problems at Chicago, Kevin Harvick continues to show the way as the Cup points leader. He is trailed by Hendrick Motorsports mates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson (co-leader with five wins), Denny Hamlin (five wins) and the Busch brothers (Kurt, then Kyle). Each regular-season win is good for 10 bonus points come the Chase points “reset.”

After Race 19 of 36 en route to Miami, two-time Champion Tony Stewart sits ninth in the Sprint Cup standings. Also in the picture are three Ford drivers looking to steal the show during Ford Championship Weekend: Matt Kenseth sits eighth, Carl Edwards 10th and Greg Biffle 11th.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is another driver seeking glory Nov. 21 in South Florida. With seven races remaining before the Chase cutoff at Richmond (Sept. 11), NASCAR’s most popular driver had been on a roll, as evidenced by his three Top 10s and an 11th-place finish in the previous five races.

Said Junior after his 23rd-place finish at Chicago: "We are pretty disappointed, little bit devastated about how we ran tonight. We got nobody to blame but ourselves. We worked really hard in practice trying to get better because this was about how we were going to run. We just couldn't make it better all night."

With Junior on the verge of making the Chase cut, now is the time to lock in tickets to see the 2010 Champion crowned at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 21. For the best seats, log on to THEChampionshipTrack.com or call (866) 409-RACE today.

Making his 600th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start, four-time Champion Gordon—who never has won at Homestead-Miami Speedway— led 47 laps and finished third.

"We tried to tighten up the car, but we didn't do enough," Gordon said. "We were really good, but we started fighting loose in and off condition. All-in-all it was a good night for us, even though we came up a little bit short."

Harvick leads the points race by 103 markers over Gordon and 188 over Johnson. In the battle for the 12th and final spot, Clint Bowyer holds a 15-point margin over Earnhardt Jr. and a 37-point gap over fan favorite Mark Martin.

Raised in Zephyr Hills, Fla., Reutimann won for the second time in his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career, having captured a rain-shortened race at Charlotte last year. The No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota was able to hold off the hard- charging No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford driven by Edwards.

“We were better on long runs, but on the last green-flag stretch the car was really loose,” Reutimann said post-race. “I knew the No. 99 was catching us fast and I hoped he would run out of time, which he did. It was a good team effort."

Edwards’ runner-up finish was his best of the season in the Aflac Ford. "That's all I had," he said post-race. "I was doing everything I could at the end, and I wish there had been three or four more laps, as we were mounting a charge near the end. Congratulations to David; he's one of the nice guys you'll ever meet."

No so complimentary following the race was South Florida’s Juan Pablo Montoya of Martin (see sidebar). The two NASCAR veterans banged fenders and traded verbal barbs following a final lap skirmish for 15th place. Indeed, fuses are becoming shorter in the race to contend for NASCAR’s 2010 Sprint Cup Championship, with the 10-race Chase for the Cup to be decided in Miami Nov. 21. Lock in tickets to see the Champion crowned at Homestead-Miami Speedway this fall by logging on to THEChampionshipTrack.com or by calling (866) 409-RACE.

NASCAR’s elite take another step toward Miami glory on July 25 at Indianapolis (12 noon ET, TNT-TV, MRN Radio)—Race 20 of 36 en route to Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 19-21). For tickets and more information, visit THEChampionshipTrack.com or call (866) 409-RACE.

On the Move: South Florida's Montoya

Montoya and Martin battled it out at the end of the Lifelock.com 400

“…He nearly wrecked me, and I nearly wrecked him in the process—we both lost.”

--South Florida-resident Juan Pablo Montoya, on tangling with NASCAR’s Mark Martin on the last lap at Chicagoland Saturday night

In his bid to make the Sprint Cup Chase playoffs for a second consecutive year, Juan Pablo Montoya had a frustrating 16th-place finish last night at Chicagoland Speedway—Race 19 of 36 en route to NASCAR’s series-crowning Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 19-21. For tickets and more information to see Montoya race for the Ford 400 win on his “home track,” visit THEChampionshipTrack.com or call (866) 409-RACE.

The South Florida resident tangled late with fan-favorite Mark Martin, and after the race the No. 5 of Hendrick Motorsports parked his car adjacent to Montoya’s Earnhardt Ganassi Racing hauler. The two drivers had words, with Montoya reportedly offering Martin—he of the 40 career Sprint Cup victories—driving lessons.

“I gave him room out of [Turn] 4, and we got into Turn 1 and he got into my door and he nearly wrecked me, and I nearly wrecked him in the process—we both lost,” said Montoya. “I don’t understand. He just ran the [expletive] out of me on the last lap running for [expletive] 15th place.

“We’ve been pretty good there in the past, and we needed a good performance,” Montoya said of racing in the Windy City.

Due to an inordinate amount of on-track issues, Montoya finds himself 242 points out of the coveted 12th spot for NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup. He has seven races to make up that deficit and be in the field that qualifies to contend for the 2010 Sprint Cup Championship on Nov. 21 at Montoya’s “home track” of Homestead-Miami Speedway. It is worth noting that at this time last year, he rattled off nine Top 10s in a span of 14 races to vault from 15th to a Chase spot.
 
Montoya has started all 19 of the Sprint Cup races this season but has fallen victim to engine woes and on-track tangling—which makes the following stat all the more remarkable: The driver of the No. 42 has finished in the Top 10 of all but two 2010 races in which he has completed all scheduled laps. Included in that run for South Florida’s hometown’er are four Top 5s.

Montoya’s next opportunity to gain points comes at Indianapolis on July 25 (12 noon ET, TNT-TV, MRN Radio)—Race 20 of 36 en route to NASCAR’s series-crowning Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 19-21. For tickets and more information to see Montoya race for the Ford 400 win on his “home track,” visit THEChampionshipTrack.com or call (866) 409-RACE.

 

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