Chasing Miami Glory: 9 drivers, 101 points

Gordon Moves Up to Fifth in the Standings

Four-time Sprint Cup Champion Jeff Gordon in his “Drive for Five" finished fifth and jumped three positions to fifth in the points standings (photo courtesy: John Harrelson, Getty Images Sport)

In Chase Race 3 of 10 en route to Ford Championship Weekend in Miami (Nov. 19-21), Greg Biffle took the checkered flag at Kansas Speedway while Jimmie Johnson, with a second-place finish, took the Chase points lead by eight points over Denny Hamlin. “Regular season” points-leader Kevin Harvick finished third and is 22 points back of Hamlin in the Chase for the 2010 Sprint Cup Trophy.

With nine Chase drivers separated by 101 points, it’s the closest the Chase field has been after three “playoff” races since NASCAR switched to the format in 2004. NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Champion will be crowned at Homestead-Miami Speedway on 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.

With a strong run throughout the entire race at Kansas, Biffle easily held off his rivals in the closing laps to take the victory. He led 60 of the 267 laps to jump to eighth place in the points standings and said during post-race: "I was even saving a little bit out there at the end, too. I knew the caution was going to come out, and I would need some tire to race these guys.

"Once we got our car adjusted we were off and set sail," a smiling Biffle added. "The thing was really fast. I didn't think even if there were more cautions that they would catch us. We had such a great car today, and I couldn't be any prouder of my 3M Ford team today and the Pit Bulls."

Reigning Sprint Cup Champion Johnson—who comes alive during the Chase, having won the title the last four years in Miami—never led a lap, but his runner-up finish has him in the points lead by eight markers over Hamlin, who finished 12th. In Chase Race 3 of 10 en route to Ford Championship Weekend in Miami (Nov. 19-21), Harvick led twice for a total of 16 laps and jumped two places in the Championship standings.

"We feel good about where we're at,” said Harvick, currently sitting third in points. “So we've just got to keep doing those things and keep our cars in contention to run up front and lead some laps; get those points, and we'll see where we're at when we get to Homestead."

With just six Chase races remain before the series-crowning Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 19-21, two-time Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart sits 10th in points, just 127 point arrears Johnson after a fourth-place finish at Kansas. It was Stewart’s eighth Top 5 finish this season.

“We've known we've been a better team than [the first two Chase race] weeks have shown," Stewart said post-race. “We just had bad luck the first race and then just a bad day the second race. Hopefully, the upcoming weeks will be like today."

“Smoke’s” Top 5 allowed him to whittle 35 points away from new points leader Johnson. Four-time Sprint Cup Champion Jeff Gordon—in his own “Drive for Five”—finished fifth and jumped three positions to fifth in the points standings.

Said Gordon: “We gained points overall and points positions. I felt like we kind of missed an opportunity here this weekend…. like we were one of the best cars and felt like we should have led more laps and had a battle for the win. We still have some work to do, and we're going to try to make that happen with the tracks coming up."

Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Paul Menard, Ryan Newman and A.J. Allmendinger rounded out the Top 10.

Next up for the Sprint Cup drivers is Auto Club Speedway in California on Sunday, Oct. 10 (3 p.m. ET, ESPN-TV, MRN Radio)—Chase Race 4 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 practicing at Charlotte

“No matter what changes were made, the car just wasn’t responding the way we had hoped it would.”

--Juan Pablo Montoya, after struggling with a loose race car at Chase Race 3 en route to Ford Championship Weekend (Nov. 19-21) on his “home track.”

When the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series headed to the Midwest for its only race at Kansas Speedway this season, South Florida resident Juan Pablo Montoya and the Target team were quick right off the truck in posting the fastest time in the first practice session. The No. 42 team then qualified in the Sprint Cup field’s Top 10 for an 11th consecutive race.

And after the No. 42 Target Chevrolet lined-up seventh, Montoya ran in the Top 10 for the first 30 laps until handling began to affect the car. He finally brushed the wall on Lap 42, and the Target crew repaired the fender damage so Montoya could return to the track in the 23rd position. In the end, Montoya would settle for a 29th-place finish.

“We just missed the set-up out there,” Montoya remarked. “No matter what changes were made, the car just wasn’t responding the way we had hoped it would. Hate that we had a bad day but fortunately this isn’t something we contend with every weekend.”

During the race, the team worked to get the handling back under control. A total of eight pit stops were made throughout the day for tires, fuel and adjustments.

Just six races remain until the 2010 Sprint Cup Series culminates with 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 the Sprint Cup drivers is Auto Club Speedway in California on Sunday, Oct. 10 (3 p.m. ET, ESPN-TV, MRN Radio)—Chase Race 4 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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