Montoya has enjoyed a good amount of his non-road course success on quad ovals this year, and at one point in time, it appeared this weekend’s race at Texas would be no different. The Colombian started the event from the inside of row 2 and by lap 7, he had his Texaco/Havoline Dodge comfortably in the lead. Although the top spot was relinquished to Jeff Gordon during pit stops on lap 16, the rookie would still make his presence felt in the top 10 for the majority of the race’s first quarter.
The list of 2007 goals for Allmendinger has dwindled, especially after winning Rookie of the Year and securing a Top 35 spot in owner points no longer became obtainable. The objective for this team for the rest of the season is simply now to gain as much experience as possible and improve overall performance. Well, if the current trend continues, Allmendinger will accomplish both of those feats.
Montoya’s Texaco/Havoline Dodge started the Subway 500 from mid-pack and remained there for the first 100 laps of the race, with the Colombian finding it difficult to pass on the .526-mile short track. It was a call from the pits that initially set the tone for the No. 42 car’s march to the front; on the day’s fifth caution on lap 114, crew chief Donnie Wingo elected to keep Montoya on the track, a move which bumped him up to third for the restart. That decision paid off long-term, as cautions fell just the right way for Montoya to hold his spot towards the front.
0.579 – Jeff Gordon’s margin of victory over Clint Bowyer in the Bank of America 500.
AJ Allmendinger started just 30th for Saturday night’s race, but there was no need for Team Red Bull to be concerned… he wouldn’t stay there for long. Powering his Camry into the top 20 by lap 60, both driver and team proved early that they would be a force to be reckoned with. The No. 84’s progress, however, became hindered soon after once he dropped a lap down to the leaders, a setback which could have proved costly long-term. But that’s when Lady Luck finally shined her good graces on this team, as Allmendinger was the beneficiary of the “Lucky Dog” award on the lap 119 caution for debris; just like that, he was back on pace with the leaders in what would prove to be a crucial turning point.
Making his first Nextel Cup start for Bill Davis, Villeneuve shocked the NASCAR world by turning in the sixth-fastest qualifying time, easily making the field in which five of the top six were Toyotas. Respecting the concerns of his competitors about debuting at one of the most dangerous tracks on the circuit, the Canadian made the classy move of falling to the back of the field before the green flag even waved. The former Formula 1 and Indy 500 champ spent the rest of the day trying to simply make laps, stay out of trouble, and not be the cause of the “Big One.” Mission almost accomplished.
In a race that offered multiple wrecks, wicked weather, hot tempers, and an unusual finish, simply surviving the Lifelock 400 must have seemed like a victory for many participants… especially the rookies. On Sunday, David Ragan simply did just that, overcoming obstacles better than any of his other freshmen counterparts. After starting 18th, the No. 6 Ford Fusion struggled for the first 100-lap segment of the race, falling as low as 30th at one point. However, crew chief Jimmy Fennig and the AAA crew figured out what the car needed to turn Ragan’s race around, all while using pit strategy to boost the team into the top 10 just before a two-hour rain delay on lap 148. Following that red flag period, Ragan narrowly avoided a multi-car wreck on the backstretch to keep himself in contention, quietly soldiering on to a 16th-place finish by race’s end.
Juan Pablo Montoya tied this career-best starting position by placing his Donnie Wingo-prepared Dodge on the outside of the front row for the third time this season (the other two second-place starts were at Indianapolis and the August Bristol race). Matching the start with an equally impressive finish did not look likely for much of the day, however. The No. 42 Avenger quickly dropped out of the top 10 as Montoya and Wingo fought a loose condition throughout much of the race. But after running around 15th for virtually the entire event – surviving a brush with Jamie McMurray in the process – the team was able to make a late surge after avoiding a 12-car wreck on lap 385. As the checkered flag flew, Montoya had moved up to 10th, earning his fifth top-10 finish of the year. It was also the 12th top finishing rookie award for Montoya in 2007, tying him with Ragan in that category.
Each week, we’ll go through all the media reports, interviews, PR, and all our own stuff to find the best quotes from the Nextel Cup race, capturing the story of how the weekend unfolded. It’s the most original commentary you’ll ever find; the truth, coming straight out of the mouths of the drivers, crew members, and the car owners themselves. This week, here’s a sneak peek at what a select few were thinking following the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway.
After starting a dismal 33rd, David Ragan slowly made his way into the top 10 by lap 104. The AAA team would experience a “yo-yo” type of night for the rest of the race, dropping as low as 36th after a pit road speeding penalty, before coming home in 12th position. Saturday night’s finish marked Ragan’s sixth top-15 finish of 2007 and his 10th top rookie finish of the season.