“You’re going to have a shot come Homestead”

Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon

Fan favorite Mark Martin (car no. 5) led the most laps at Auto Club Speedway, while teammate and four-time Sprint Cup Champion Jeff Gordon finished ninth (photo courtesy: Jeff Gross)

In Chase Race 4 of 10 en route to Ford Championship Weekend in Miami (Nov. 19-21), Tony Stewart fought off Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson for his first career win at Auto Club Speedway. Just six races remain in the 2010 Sprint Cup Series season en route to NASCAR’s Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Lock in your tickets NOW to see Championship racing at Championship value: Tickets start at $55 and are available by calling (866) 409-RACE or by logging on to THEChampionshipTrack.com . Parking is free, and fans are welcome to bring in their own food and drink in a 6x6x12 cooler, with unlimited re-entry to the Speedway to allow for restocking from tailgates.

Stewart took the lead coming off a caution on Lap 189 of 200, while Bowyer and Johnson battled behind him to finish second and third, respectively. Following the victory, Stewart jumped five positions in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings and now sits in fifth place, just 107 points back of leader Johnson.

“We’re doing everything we can do [to win the Chase],” said Stewart. “We’re going to need some help, but we’re doing everything we can do. I’m just so happy with these guys. They refused to give up and refused to back down.

“I’m glad to finally win one in California,” Stewart added. “I can now check it off the list of tracks I’ve never won at.”

Speaking of no-win tracks, Homestead-Miami Speedway is the only NASCAR Sprint Cup track at which four-time Champion Jeff Gordon never has visited Sprint Cup Victory Lane. The No. 24 led 11 laps but was penalized for speeding on pit road on Lap 156. Gordon, who crossed the line ninth, was frustrated to see Johnson finish ahead of him in Chase Race 4 of 10 en route to Miami.

“The best scenario kind of happened with the 14 [of Stewart] and 33 [of Bowyer] finishing ahead of him,” Gordon said of chasing points-leader Johnson. “Right now, if the 48 gets wins on us, those are points that are very, very difficult to make up because there are a lot of bonus points there.

“They finished third and we were ninth, and we’re still in it—that’s all that matters.”

Indeed, three drivers are within 85 points of Johnson, including Hamlin (-36), Kevin Harvick (-54) and four-time Sprint Cup Champion Gordon (-85).

Johnson was seeking his fourth straight victory at California en route to what he hopes is a fifth consecutive NASCAR Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 21. Lock in your tickets NOW to see Championship racing at Championship value: Tickets start at $55 and are available by calling (866) 409-RACE or by logging on to THEChampionshipTrack.com. Parking is free, and fans are welcome to bring in their own food and drink in a 6x6x12 cooler—with unlimited re-entry to the Speedway to allow for restocking from tailgates.

“I think if it would have stayed green, you would have seen the No. 48 car in Victory Lane,” a confident Johnson said post-race. “Great day overall. We certainly wanted to be in Victory Lane, but if we can finish in the Top 3 week in and week out you’re going to have a shot come Homestead, and that’s all we’re after.”

Kasey Kahne finished fourth and Ryan Newman fifth, giving teammate and race-winner Stewart extra reason to smile. Fan favorite Mark Martin led the most laps (41) at Auto Club Speedway and finished sixth.

Said Martin: “We had a great car. Would have like to have seen more racing at the end instead of all that, but I’m not going to complain. It’s been a long time since I had a race car that could win a race. and that one could have won today under the right circumstances.”

Rounding out the Top 10 were seventh-place Harvick, Hamlin, Gordon and David Reutimann.

Next up for the Sprint Cup drivers is Charlotte on Saturday, Oct. 16 (7 p.m. ET, ABC-TV)—Chase Race 4 of 10 en route to Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 19-21). For tickets starting at $55, call (866) 409-RACE or log on to THEChampionshipTrack.com. Parking for Ford Championship Weekend is free, and fans are welcome to bring in their own food and drink in a 6x6x12 cooler—with unlimited re-entry to the Speedway to allow for restocking from tailgates.

On The Move: South Florida's Montoya

Montoya California

“They gave me an awesome car today.”

--Juan Pablo Montoya, who brushed the wall eight laps into Chase Race 4 en route to Ford Championship Weekend (Nov. 19-21) on his “home track”

The No. 42 Target team started from the fourth position and overcame a brush with the wall and two pit road penalties to finish 14th at Chase Race 4 of 10 en route to Ford Championship Weekend in Miami(Nov. 19-21). The Top 15 finish is the 16th of the season for Montoya, and the Top 10 qualifying spot marked his 12th consecutive in that category.

For tickets to see Montoya race for a Ford 400 victory on his home turf—as well as an exclusive meet-and-greet opportunity with Montoya himself--call (866) 409-RACE, log on to THEChampionshipTrack.com or click here.

With six races remaining in the 2010 schedule, Montoya and the Target team are setting their sights on their first oval track win. The team ran three successful practice sessions to prep the No. 42 for Sunday’s 200-lap event around Auto Club Speedway, and the effort produced a spot in the second row of the field during Friday qualifying.

When the green flag waved for the Pepsi Max 400. Montoya immediately radioed in a loose handling condition. The Target Chevrolet would brush the wall just eight laps in and cause damage to the right side of the race car. Multiple stops were made under caution to repair the right side and splitter, and to add insult to injury Montoya was penalized for speeding on pit road and thus had to serve a pass-thru penalty.

“I feel like crap after hitting the fence today,” Montoya relayed via his Twitter account. “They gave me an awesome car today. Hoping to get better results the next few weeks.”

Once back out on the track, Montoya raced his way back through the field until another pit-road speeding penalty occurred on Lap 137, and the Target Chevrolet restarted at the tail-end of the longest line. Crew chief Brian Pattie made a two-tire pit strategy call with less than 50 laps remaining, and Montoya would go on to lead two laps of the race.

In the closing laps, the handling of the No. 42 was off due to the damage sustained from the earlier race accident. Montoya and the crew made needed adjustments up until the very end and were able to cross the finish line in the 14th position.

Six races remain in the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season en route to NASCAR’s Ford Championship Weekend on Montoya’s “home track” of Homestead-Miami Speedway. For tickets to see Montoya race for a Ford 400 victory on his home turf—as well as an exclusive meet-and-greet opportunity with Montoya himself--call (866) 409-RACE, log on to THEChampionshipTrack.com or click here.

Next up for Montoya and the Sprint Cup drivers is Charlotte on Saturday, Oct. 16 (7 p.m. ET, ABC-TV)—Chase Race 4 of 10 en route to Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 19-21). For tickets starting at $55, call (866) 409-RACE or log on to THEChampionshipTrack.com. Parking for Ford Championship Weekend is free, and fans are welcome to bring in their own food and drink in a 6x6x12 cooler—with unlimited re-entry to the Speedway to allow for restocking from tailgates.

Follow Montoya on Twitter:

@JPMontoya

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