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.
David Ragan continues to show steady improvement as he put in a solid top-20 performance at the super-fast MIS. Ragan had competed in the Citizens Bank 400 at Michigan International Speedway in June 2007 in his only other Cup start at the track.
After qualifying his Dodge Charger on the outside of row four for Sunday’s race, it appeared that Juan Pablo Montoya was poised to have another strong run following his second-place finish at Indianapolis. In fact, Montoya did look strong throughout the first quarter of the race, remaining in or just outside of the top 10. But as the race wore on, so did Montoya’s attention span, as at one point he made a remark about how long the race was. Struggling to keep his No. 42 machine on the bottom, the Rookie of the Year points leader began to fade, and he eventually wound up 16th in the final running order. Still, it was Montoya’s 10th top finishing rookie honor in the 2007 season – leading all first-year drivers in that category.
Tony Stewart’s slip of the tongue on TV didn’t just cost him money… along with a $25,000 fine, 25 championship points were deducted. Is it wrong for drivers to lose championship points for over-the-line statements to the media?
When Montoya qualified his Texaco/Havoline Dodge on the outside of the front row for the Allstate 400 at The Brickyard, he accomplished more than simply securing his best career starting spot. Making his first start in a stock car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Montoya made history before the race even began – he’s now the first driver in the famed racetrack’s history to start in all three major series to run there (Indy Racing League, Formula 1, and NASCAR).
After a one-week breather, Nextel Cup racing resumes this week with just seven races remaining until the end of the regular season. Heading into that final stretch, who among the top 12 is the most vulnerable to drop out and why? And if someone does fall out, who slips in their place?
After starting 30th for Sunday’s USG Sheetrock 400, Montoya used the first 60 green-flag laps to guide his Wrigley’s Big Red Dodge into the top 20. Crew chief Donnie Wingo and the team did not appear to figure out the setup needed to run with the leaders, though, as Montoya would eventually lose a lap during the race’s second green-flag stretch.
Now that the Pepsi 400 is in the record books, the 2007 Nextel Cup Series officially enters the second half of its racing season. While that means much welcomed visits to familiar tracks for this year’s rookie class, there’s still one major obstacle they have yet to endure before moving forward – Professor Lumbis’s dreaded …