Tempers Flare as Miami Comes Near
Kurt Busch left his car enraged after being clipped by Jimmy Johnson (Courtesy Rusty Jarrett, Getty Images Sport)
For Ford Racing’s Greg Biffle and the “Oval Brigade,” it was a weekend to remember at Pocono—Race 21 of 36 en route to Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 19-21). Biffle used late-race pit strategy to take the checkered flag and then dedicated his victory to team co-owner Jack Roush, who is hospitalized in Minnesota recovering from injuries sustained in a plane crash last week.
"This one's for Jack [Roush," said Biffle, who notched Ford Racing’s first win of the 2010 Sprint Cup season and broke a personal 64-race winless streak in the process.
"It feels good to win," Biffle said. "No one on this team ever gave up. This engine ran so good, and I beat the crap out of it—doing things they told me not to do. In the late laps, I didn't want to slow down, but I finally did."
With the win, Biffle fortified his 11th spot in the points standings, increasing his lead over Clint Bowyer in the 12th position from a mere 16 points last week to 88 points this week. Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin rounded out the Top 5 in the pursuit of Miami glory come Ford Championship Weekend (Nov. 19-21) at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Lock in NOW to catch Championship racing at Championship value, as tickets start at just $55. For the best seats, call (866) 409-RACE or log onto THEChampionshipTrack.com.
Penske Racing’s Kurt Busch, who entered Pocono fifth in the standings for the 2010 Sprint Cup Championship—to be awarded Nov. 21 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—left Pennsylvania in seventh in the points with a damaged racecar and some harsh words for four-time NASCAR Champion Jimmie Johnson.
Busch, Bowyer and Johnson were battling for position with just 36 laps remaining when Johnson attempted to bump draft Busch from behind. The No. 48’s nudge spun Busch off the track and careening into the infield grass, where the No. 2 bounced off a barrier and tore the front wheels off the Dodge.
After being cleared from the care center, a steamed Busch said: "Jimmie Johnson drove straight through us."
While accepting responsibility for triggering the crash, Johnson said: "I just [tried] to bump draft him and push him along the back straightaway. We did make some contact. Kurt isn't very fond of me, never has been. I think when he has a chance to take a shot at me, he probably will. It was nothing intentional."
Ford Racing had its best day en route to Ford Championship Weekend (Nov. 19-21) at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Biffle-teammate Edwards started 25th and drove all the way up to a third place in the No. 99 Aflac Ford.
"That's a good run for us—a great points run," said Edwards, who resides in the 10th spot in the standings, 14 points ahead of his race-winning teammate. "It was a long day, but we got a Ford into victory lane. And it was cool to see Greg get the victory. Hopefully, we can make the Chase and get the next win."
Indeed, the top 12 drivers in points after Race 26 (Sept. 11 at Richmond) qualify to contend for the 2010 Sprint Cup Championship that will be crowned in Miami on Nov. 21. Lock in your tickets NOW to see Championship racing at Championship value, as tickets start at just $55. For the best seats, call (866) 409-RACE or log onto THEChampionshipTrack.com.
Four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Jeff Gordon—who never has won at Homestead-Miami Speedway— took over the lead on lap 120 and would set the pace for a total of 39 laps. The No. 24 looked like a possible winner and entered the pits late in the race as the leader. He would finish sixth, however, after opting for four tires and emerging 11th after those ahead of him elected to change only two tires or skip a pit stop entirely.
Current Sprint Cup point leader Harvick raced to a fourth-place finish to notch his 10th Top 5 finish of 2010. Four-time Pocono winner Denny Hamlin finished fifth.
“Yeah, it's been a great year," Harvick said post-race. “We keep knocking Top 5s off, and that's what we've got to keep doing in the Chase.”
“The No. 16 [Biffle] just got so far out there on that last restart that I thought we had a chance to win the race, but we just could never run him back down. So it was a good race, and we'll go on to the next one.”
The battle remains for the coveted 12th spot in the standings—the final entry in the Chase for the Sprint Cup that culminates this fall with Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 19-21). Lock in your tickets NOW to see Championship racing at Championship value, as tickets start at just $55. For the best seats, call (866) 409-RACE or log onto THEChampionshipTrack.com.
In the race for the Chase, Mark Martin (13th) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (14th) sit on the cusp of Chase contention, with just five races left before the “playoff” field is set. Martin used a seventh-place finish at Pocono to maintain the 13th position, just 34 points out of the final Chase spot. Earnhardt Jr. finished 27th and one lap down at Pocono to sit 129 points behind Bowyer in the 12th slot.
Just five races remain before the Richmond (Sept. 11) cut-off for NASCAR’s best to gain points and qualify for Chase contention. Race 22 of 36 en route to Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 19-21) is Sunday, Aug. 8, at Watkins Glen (1 p.m. ET on ESPN-TV, MRN Radio).
Stewart, Edwards, Biffle, Earnhardt Jr., Martin, and four-time Sprint Cup Champions Gordon and Johnson all are looking to vie for the 2010 Sprint Cup Championship Nov. 21 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. To see the Champion crowned live, lock in the best seats NOW by calling (866) 409-RACE or logging on to THEChampionshipTrack.com.
On the Move: South Florida's Montoya
“The weather and our strategy just didn’t play out like we had hoped it would.”
--South Florida’s Juan Pablo Montoya, on his 16th place finish at Pocono
In his bid to make the Sprint Cup Chase playoffs for a second consecutive year, Juan Pablo Montoya qualified the No. 42 Target Chevrolet on the outside pole and led the field twice. Yet the Colombian native-turned-Miami resident finished the rain-plagued race in the 16th position. It was Race 21 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 a Ford 400 victory on his “home track,” visit THEChampionshipTrack.com or call (866) 409-RACE.
A small rain shower prior to driver introductions delayed the start of the race, but once it began Montoya would spend the majority of the first 140 (of 200) laps running in the Top 10. But sunny skies and a changing track temperature altered the handling of the race car.
“The weather and our strategy just didn’t play out like we had hoped it would,” said Montoya. “Our handling would change every few laps due to the weather. It didn’t work out for us like we had hoped.”
Crew chief Brian Pattie brought the No. 42 Target Chevrolet down pit road early for an adjustment to alleviate the handling concerns, and soon after a caution flag brought the leaders back in, providing Montoya a lead he would hold for five laps. On the final restart, Montoya began 14th but fell two spots before the arrival of the checkered flag.
Next up for Montoya’s and the Sprint Cup drivers is Watkins Glen on Sunday, Aug. 8 (1 p.m. ET, ESPN, MRN Radio)—Race 22 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 a Ford 400 victory on his “home track,” visit THEChampionshipTrack.com or call (866) 409-RACE.