Sunday, June 24
Juan Pablo Montoya salutes the fans after winning his first career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup event. More pix at the end of this page...
Montoya Stretches Fuel for First NEXTEL Cup Series Win
By Reid Spencer, Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
SONOMA, CA (June 25, 2007) — Juan Pablo Montoya had to work for his money Sunday at Infineon Raceway.
Facing a level of competition that surprised him with its quality, Montoya conserved fuel at every opportunity during the final 41-lap green-flag run and made it to the finish line first in the Toyota/Save Mart 350.
It was the first NASCAR Nextel Cup victory for the much-publicized rookie from Formula One, who joined Mario Andretti and Dan Gurney as the only drivers to win in F1, IndyCars and NASCAR Nextel Cup.
In his No. 42 Ganassi Racing Dodge, Montoya also posted the first Car of Tomorrow win in a car other than a Chevrolet. Montoya, of Colombia, is the first driver born outside the United States to win a race in NASCAR’s foremost series since Canadian Earl Ross triumphed at Martinsville in 1974.
The Richard Childress Racing trio of Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton and Clint Bowyer stretched fuel mileage to claim positions two through four. Believing Montoya might run out of gas, Harvick raced conservatively over the final 10 laps and crossed the stripe 4.097 seconds back.
Greg Biffle was fifth, followed by Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, Boris Said and Denny Hamlin.
“I was very surprised at the level of driving here on a road course,” said Montoya, who made up for Friday’s 32nd-place qualifying effort. “The top five or six cars were really strong, but them, the top 20 was like — whew! — I definitely worked for the money.
“We worked hard for it, and the whole team deserves this.”
Before Montoya’s victory, no Cup race winner at Infineon had started deeper in the field than the 13th starting spot.
Montoya, who won the Busch Series road race at Mexico City in March, battled polesitter Jamie McMurray over the closing laps of the 110-lap race and finally took the lead through Turn 2 on Lap 104. McMurray ran out of fuel on Lap 109, coasted into the pits and fell to 37th place at the finish.
Asked whether the victory was more satisfying than his wins in Formula One or IndyCars, Montoya, 31, said it would be difficult to compare his successes.
“It’s hard to say this is bigger than that,” said Montoya, who won seven F1 races in addition to winning the 2000 Indy 500 and the CART championship in 1999 as a rookie. “I would say right now this is the biggest thing I’ve done. It’s unbelievable. In open-wheel, that’s what I was meant to be winning in. In stock cars, I wasn’t.
“To get our first win in our first year is huge. We know we’re a little behind at some of the ovals, and we still need to work hard, but I think this is a big boost for everybody working in the shop.”
The victory wouldn’t have happened, however, had Montoya been unable to get the most out of his gas tank.
“We missed it a little bit in qualifying, so today we had to play a little catch-up and take a gamble at the end,” said No. 42 crew chief Donnie Wingo. “We made our last stop (under the final caution on Lap 69) and just saved enough fuel to make it.
“We had it figured a lap short, and he did a great job saving fuel.”
It was an adventurous seventh-place run for Gordon, the points leader, who started 41st after NASCAR barred the No. 24 Chevrolet — along with the No. 48 Chevy of Gordon’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jimmie Johnson — on Friday for body modifications that fell outside the sanctioning body’s tolerances.
Gordon and Johnson, who started 42nd, were not allowed to practice or qualify on Friday but were allowed to practice Saturday and race after their cars were repaired. Johnson, the reigning Cup champion, finished 17th Sunday.
Complete race results and point standings in the Event Stats section following...
Schedule / Broadcast Times
Practice: Friday, June 22 (SPEED at 4:30 p.m./AT, 3:30 a.m./ET)
Qualifying: Friday, June 22 (SPEED at 8 p.m./AT, 7 p.m./ET)
Practice: Saturday, June 23 (SPEED at 2 p.m./AT, 1 p.m./ET)
Final Practice: Saturday, June 23 (SPEED at 4 p.m./AT, 3 p.m./ET)
RaceDay: Sunday, June 24 (SPEED at 3:30 p.m./AT, 2:30 a.m./ET)
Countdown to Green: Sunday, June 24 (TNT & TSN-Alt at 5:30 p.m./AT, 4:30 p.m./ET)
Race: Sunday, June 24 (TNT & TSN-HD at 6 p.m./AT, 5 p.m./ET)
Green Flag Fast Facts
The Race: Toyota/Save Mart 350
The Place: Infineon Raceway, Sonoma, Calif.
The Date: Sunday, June 24
The Time: 6 p.m./AT, 5 p.m./ET
TV: TNT & TSN-Alt, 4:30 p.m./AT, 3:30 p.m./ET
The Track: 1.99-mile road course
The Distance: 350 km; 110 laps
The Purse: $5,477,835
2006 Winner: Jeff Gordon
2006 Pole: Kurt Busch
Pre-Race Schedule (local/PT time): Friday—Practice, 12:30-2 p.m. Qualifying—4:05 p.m. Saturday—Practice, 9-9:50 a.m. and 12:20-1:20 p.m.
Year-To-Date Standings: click here
- Jamie McMurray won the Bud Pole for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 with a lap of 77.521 seconds, 92.414
- This is his third career Bud Pole in 166 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races.
- It is his first Bud Pole on a road course and his second top-10 start in five races at Infineon – both on the
front row. He started second and finished 18th in this race last year.
- McMurray has finished in the top-10 in two of his eight road-course races: second here in 2006 and third
at Watkins Glen, also last season.
- Jeff Gordon holds the track qualifying record with a lap of 75.950 seconds, 94.325 mph - set on June 24,
- Robby Gordon qualified second with a lap of 77.533 seconds, 92.399 mph and will join McMurray on the
front row. It is his fifth top-10 start in 10 Infineon races.
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (third) tied his career-best road-course starting position set in 2004 at Watkins Glen. It
is his second top-10 start at Infineon.
- Juan Pablo Montoya (32nd) was the highest qualifying rookie.
- Boris Said (fourth) was the fastest of the drivers required to make the field on time.
- Three foreign-born drivers made the field for the Toyota/Save Mart 350, tying the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup
standard for foreign-born participants: Ron Fellows (11th - Canada), Marc Goossens (21st - Belgium) and
Montoya (Columbia). Seven previous races have had three, most recently this race in 2003.
- Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson did not take qualifying laps due to issues with technical inspection.
Gordon had never started worse than 15th in his previous 14 races at Infineon. Johnson had just one top-
10 start in his five Infineon races and recorded his best finish (fifth) from his second-worst start (34th) in
- Drivers that did not qualify include: Ward Burton, Scott Riggs, Brandon Ash, Paul Menard, Brian Vickers, AJ Allmendinger,
Brian Simo, Kenny Wallace and Klaus Graf.
Keys to Winning...
Races at Infineon Raceway and Watkins Glen International usually present a challenge for drivers used to navigating around oval tracks. Drivers must have a good handle on when to press and when to hold back. Passing can be limited at certain points on the track, so it is important to know where – and when – to pass. Things to watch for:
Green Flag Notes...
- COT – How the front splitter reacts to the aggressive curves of the road course; Most teams will run flat end plates on the wing.
- Passing – The best place to pass is coming into Turn 10. Cars must be in good position coming out of Turn 9; Turn 7 is another good passing area.
- Experience – The road course specialists may have experience on the course, but not in the new car.
- The phase-in of the Car of Tomorrow takes another big step forward this weekend when it competes on a road course for the first time.
“The original design of the Car of Tomorrow has many characteristics of the current road course car,” said Brett Bodine, NASCAR director of cost research. “Particularly in the fact that both are more symmetric than the oval track current cars.”
The new car has competed in six races this season, all on ovals smaller than 1.366 miles. In five of those six events, the margin of victory has been less than one second.
- Lost in the shuffle of the Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet) saga are the performances of the two “lesser-known” drivers at Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Hendrick Motorsports.
Casey Mears (No. 25 National Guard-GMAC Chevrolet) and Martin Truex Jr. (No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) each scored their first career wins in back-to-back weeks, and have used the momentum to climb up the standings.
Mears was 35th in the standings, and on the verge of not having a locked-in starting position, heading into the Coca-Cola 600, four races ago. Mears won that race, and has added two consecutive fourth-place finishes and now sits 19th in the standings, 188 points out of Chase eligibility.
For Truex, the ascent has been a year-long project, but recently picked up steam after three straight finishes of third or better. After sitting 38th in the standings after the second race of the season, Truex has slowly worked his way into a Chase-eligible position.
Truex has jumped from 20th to 10th place in the standings over the last six weeks.
- The two road courses on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedule are known for attracting top road course drivers from the world of motorsports. Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway is no exception.
Eight “Road Warriors” are expected to compete Sunday, including four who will sub for full-time drivers. P.J. Jones (No. 00 Burger King Toyota) will step in for David Reutimann, Klaus Graf (No. 49 Paralyzed Veterans of America Dodge) for Mike Bliss, Terry Labonte (No. 55 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota) for Michael Waltrip and Ron Fellows (No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet) for Tony Raines.
In addition, Butch Leitzinger (No. 36 Toyota), Brian Simo (No. 37 Dodge), Boris Said (No. 60 Sobe No Fear Ford) and Marc Goossens (No. 91 Commonwealth-RDM Toyota) will attempt to qualify.
- Michael Waltrip holds the record for most laps completed at Infineon Raceway. Through 18 races, or 1,664 laps, Waltrip has completed 1,658. Waltrip will not compete in this year’s Toyota/Save Mart 350.
- Jeff Gordon is the only driver to win five NASCAR races at Infineon Raceway (1998 – 2000, ‘04, ‘06). There have been only four two-time winners: Ernie Irvan, ('92, '94), Ricky Rudd (‘89, ‘02), Tony Stewart (‘01, ‘05) and Rusty Wallace (‘90, ‘96). Gordon also holds the record for the most poles at Infineon Raceway with five (‘98, ‘99, ‘01, ‘04, ‘05).
- Dale Earnhardt (Sr.) won his first and only NASCAR road-course race at Infineon Raceway in 1995.
- The closest margin of victory for a NASCAR race at Infineon Raceway occurred in 1989 when Ricky Rudd held off Rusty Wallace by .05 seconds.
- Ernie Irvan (1994), Mark Martin (1997) and Jeff Gordon (1998, ’99, ‘04) are the only drivers to win a Cup race at Infineon Raceway starting from the pole.
- Terry Labonte and Michael Waltrip share the track record for the biggest improvement from qualifying to finish at 36 positions. In 2002, Labonte started 39th and finished in 3rd place. Waltrip started 40th and finished 4th in 2004.
- Mark Martin holds the record for the most top-10 finishes at Infineon Raceway at 13. He has also claimed one victory (1997) and eight top-five finishes on the road course.
- Six of the top-10 finishers in the 2006 NASCAR event at Infineon Raceway started farther back than 11th.
- David Gilliland will try to repeat his father’s success at Infineon Raceway on Saturday when he competes in the NASCAR Grand
National Division, West Series Blue Lizard Suncream 200. His father, Butch, won back-to-back West Series races at the track in
1996 and 1997 and went on to win the series’ championship in 1997. Ironically, David served as his crew chief during his
championship year. David also has visited Victory Lane at the track as a driver – he won in 2004 in the NASCAR Elite Division,
Southwest Series. Expected to join Gilliland in the West Series field this weekend are Boris Said, Regan Smith and Busch East
Series phenoms Joey Logano and Marc Davis.
- Ryan Newman (No. 12 Alltel Dodge) and eight of his teammates will take a special trip with the U.S. Coast Guard on June 21.
The team will take a ride on a 47-foot Motor Life Boat out of Station Golden Gate – the busiest search and rescue station on
the West Coast. The team will take a short cruise through San Francisco Bay and around Alcatraz. The trip will then take them
under the Golden Gate Bridge before returning back to the Station, which is located underneath the north side of the Bridge.
Photo Gallery - Sunday, June 24
NFL great Jerry Rice (left) was the grand marshal for the race; shown here chatting with NASCAR great Richard Petty...
Robby Gordon led much of the race until pitting late in the race - hoping the field would cycle around to him at the point before
the checkered flag flew...
Montoya conserved fuel while leading en route to the win...
He even had enough fuel for a burnout...
Montoya's first visit to a Nextel Cup victory lane...
Photo Gallery - Friday, June 22
Jamie McMurray is all smiles after snagging the Budweiser Pole position from Robby Gordon.
IMPORTANT: All information, schedules and/or scheduled events is/are subject to change without notice. Please
check with the source to confirm.
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