Juan Pablo Montoya got his first NASCAR victory in just his third week of the season – when the Busch Series visited Mexico City. No matter what camp you were in, you had to think he’d be a threat on the road courses, and Montoya proved that theory correct when he followed up that victory with a Nextel Cup road-course win at Infineon Raceway in June.
Paul Menard’s best finish of the season was at Michigan International Speedway, where he finished a career-high 12th in the Citizens Bank 400. Starting back in 38th, he methodically worked his way up through the pack, even leading a lap in the process – one of only three he’d lead all season in the Cup Series.
Without a doubt, edging out Kyle Busch by 0.005 seconds in the Pepsi 400 was the highlight of the 2007 season for McMurray. After being sent to the back of the field for passing under the yellow line, he made his way back through the pack and – with a well-placed bump or two from teammate Carl Edwards – was able to push ahead of Busch for his second career victory, snapping a 166-race winless drought. McMurray also found success early in the season, scoring three straight top-10 finishes in late March and early April to collect a total of five top 10s in the first nine races of the year.
In 2007, Casey Mears staked his own claim to the winner’s circle, grabbing his first career Nextel Cup win in the Coca-Cola 600. Mears’s parents joined him in victory lane – as did longtime friend and now-teammate Jimmie Johnson – for one of the most emotional celebrations of the year.
Choosing family and fatherhood over ingratitude, deafening racecars, and a gaudy-looking trophy, Mark Martin still managed to get off to the best start of his storied career after signing with Ginn Racing, leading the points after the first four races of the season with an average finish of 5.5.
In a year where Jeremy Mayfield only managed to qualify 13 times in 32 attempts for Bill Davis Racing while driving the No. 36 360 OTC Toyota, his switch to the Haas CNC Racing No. 66 Best Buy Chevrolet was by far the high point of the season.
After qualifying 38th in the Daytona 500, Marlin finished 17th. Throughout the next four races, Sterling Marlin continued to qualify by his speed results. He was the only driver outside of the Top 35 in owner points to qualify for all five races.
In the 17th race of the season, the Lenox Industrial Tools 300 at New Hampshire, Kevin Lepage achieved his best start and finish of a difficult 2007.
The high point of Terry Labonte’s 2007 season was simply being asked to come out of retirement to strap in for Michael Waltrip Racing.
A victory is extra special for Matt Kenseth, who is known more for his rock-solid consistent finishes rather than the dominating double-digit win seasons main rivals Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon have put up through the years. So, his two victories at the Auto Club 500 in Fontana and the season finale Ford 400 in Homestead will surely stand out from the rest of the 2003 champ’s accomplishments.