Monday, October 19, 2009

Juan Pablo Montoya Drops to 6th Position in Chase

Chasers Struggle On Home Turf
Written by Lindsey Marks
Monday, 19 October 2009 11:12

After leading early in the NASCAR Banking 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway Denny Hamlin blew his motor and lost two spots in the point standings. Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/GettyImages for NASCAR

Jimmie Johnson raced his way to yet another win, his third in the Chase and sixth this season, on Saturday night in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series NASCAR Banking 500 only from Bank of America at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

Congratulations to the No. 48 team and their never-ending success.

Must be nice.

Not many teams can dominate four years in a row. Just ask all the other Chasers and the guys who did not even make the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Even the drivers who were successful in Saturday’s race could not gain on Johnson’s points lead. Jeff Gordon moved up from 5th in the point standings to 3rd following Saturday night’s event but went from 105 points behind Johnson to 135 points back.

Kasey Kahne, who was mathematically eliminated from championship contention prior to this event due to poor performances and bad luck early in the Chase, rallied with a 3rd place finish at Lowe’s that moved him up two spots in the point standings to 9th, 331 points behind Johnson.


Juan Pablo Montoya's night was unfortunate, getting into the back of Clint Bowyer on lap 126, and spinning himself out on lap 163 and then losing his right-rear quarter panel later on. Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/GettyImages for NASCAR

Kurt Busch was the only other Chaser to finish in the top-10. Stewart-Haas Racing drivers Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart finished 11th and 13th, respectively.

The rest of the Chase drivers suffered from on-track incidents or mechanical problems that earned them less than stellar finishing positions.

Greg Biffle crossed the stripe 16th after spinning following contact with Newman on lap 312 and maintained his 7th place points position.

Mark Martin started his day off well, only 12 points behind Johnson in the standings and led the first lap of the race. Unfortunately, a restart debacle involving Clint Bowyer, Juan Pablo Montoya and Martin on lap 126 gave Montoya and Martin damage that affected them for the rest of the event. He wound up 17th while Montoya ended up 35th, 4 laps down after spinning himself out on lap 163 and then losing his right-rear quarter panel later on.

Martin is now 90 points behind Johnson in the standings and remains second to the three-time champion. Montoya, on the other hand, lost three spots in the points and now sits 6th, a dismal 195 points out of first.

Brian Vickers ended his day in 34th and has been eliminated from championship contention, as have Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin who are 10th and 11th in the standings after finishing 39th and 42nd, respectively, after blowing their engines.

As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Martinsville, VA for the Tums Fast Relief 500, only eight of the 12 original Chasers are still eligible for the Sprint Cup Series championship.

Juan Pablo Montoya
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Juan Pablo Montoya in
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Montoya Continues
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2007 Chase Result:
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The 2009 Chase for
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6th - Denny Hamlin,
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Juan Pablo Montoya
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With The Chase Coming
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Montoya would start
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Juan Pablo Montoya.
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Juan Pablo Montoya
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Juan Pablo Montoya
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Juan Montoya “It was
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Monica Montoya, the
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On Sunday, Montoya
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Juan Pablo Montoya
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and Juan Pablo Montoya
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Chase Media Day
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NASCAR Standings as seen by FIX


NASCAR: Jimmie Johnson wins, takes control in Chase

CONCORD, N.C. — Jimmie Johnson completed the perfect weekend with a win at Lowe's Motor Speedway 90 points over teammate Mark Martin.

Seeking a NASCAR-record fourth consecutive Cup championship, Johnson led every practice session and won the pole to complete another dominating run at Lowe's. He has been the driver to beat at the suburban Charlotte track since early in his career, and the victory was the Lowe's-sponsored driver's sixth on the 1.5-mile oval.

"Man, we pulled off a perfect weekend and we've always wanted to do that," Johnson said in his first Victory Lane visit at the track since 2005.

Matt Kenseth was second, followed by Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon, Johnson's teammate at Hendrick Motorsports.

Martin, who started the race 12 points behind Johnson, finished 17th in part because of front-end damage received when he ran into the back of Juan Pablo Montoya on an early restart.

It was that kind of night for several title contenders, as eight of the 12 finished outside the top 10 in a rare off night for the Chase drivers.

Montoya, who was third in the standings and just 58 points out of the lead at the start of the race, dropped to sixth and is now 195 points out.

He damaged the front and back ends of his car on the restart problem with Martin and Clint Bowyer, and fell two laps down trying to get pit road for repairs.

Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards both blew motors, Greg Biffle was in a late spin and Tony Stewart never contended.

That left it up to Kahne and Gordon to chase down Johnson, and despite some thrilling late restarts, neither came close.

Gordon finished fourth, but lost ground to Johnson in the standings and is now 135 points out as only Martin is within shouting distance of the champion. Johnson will take the cushion into Martinsville, where he's won five of the last six races.

Johnson has six victories this year and 46 overall — 17 in Chase races.

Montoya's Chase run hits big bump in Charlotte

The Colombian driver likely saw his chances of winning NASCAR's Chase for the championship evaporate on a frustrating Saturday night at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

A series of mishaps sent him to a 35th-place finish, dropping him from third to sixth in the standings.

CHECKERED FLAG -- Jimmie Johnson wins the NASCAR Banking 400 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. His lead over second-place Mark Martin is now 90 points. Jeff Gordon, who finished fourth, is 135 points behind.

WHITE FLAG -- Johnson leads Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon and Joey Logano.

Lap 329 -- Kenseth clears Kahne and is second.

Lap 328 -- Five to go. Johnson's lead is more than two seconds as Kahne and Kenseth battle for position.

Lap 327 -- Mark Martin has rallied back to 14th but is unofficially 81 points behind Johnson.

Lap 324 -- Ten to go.

Lap 323 -- Jeff Gordon drops to fourth as Kahne and Kenseth go by.

Lap 321 -- LEAD CHANGE: Johnson gets a big run down low and edges Gordon at the stripe.

Lap 319 -- LEAD CHANGE: Gordon grabs the advantage when Johnson bobbles coming off Turn 4.

Lap 318 -- Hendrick teammates run side-by-side but Johnson holds the lead. Kenseth and Kahne are battling for third.

Lap 317 -- GREEN FLAG: Johnson once again brings the field to the green.
1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Jeff Gordon
3. Kasey Kahne
4. Matt Kenseth
5. Casey Mears

Lap 312 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 10: Just after Tony Stewart makes a four-wide pass on the backstretch, David Stremme slams the outside wall. Greg Biffle gets tapped by Newman and spins through the grass. Reed Sorenson gets the free pass.

Lap 307 -- GREEN FLAG: Johnson brings the field to the green.
1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Kasey Kahne
3. Jeff Gordon
4. Matt Kenseth
5. Clint Bowyer

Lap 304 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 9: Now it's Carl Edwards blowing up right as the green dropped. He goes the wrong direction down pit lane, but there's a trail of fluid under the No. 99 Ford. David Ragan gets the free pass.

Lap 303 -- GREEN FLAG: Johnson brings the field to the green.
1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Kasey Kahne
3. Jeff Gordon
4. Matt Kenseth
5. Clint Bowyer

Lap 299 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 8: David Gilliland gets loose and is hard into the wall. Martin gets the free pass.

Lap 298 -- Jeff Gordon clears Kenseth to retain third.

Lap 295 -- GREEN FLAG: Johnson brings the field to the green.
1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Kasey Kahne
3. Jeff Gordon
4. Matt Kenseth
5. Clint Bowyer

Lap 292 -- LEAD CHANGE: Johnson beats Kahne by a whisker coming out of the pits.

Lap 291 -- Pit stops for the leaders.
• Kahne says he's getting a little loose.
• Johnson, slight air adjustment for a car a little snug.
• Gordon gambles and goes with two tires, picking up four spots.

Lap 290 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 7: The engine on Max Papis' car expires. David Stremme gets the free pass.

Lap 288 -- Kahne laps Martin, who is currently running 18th.

Lap 287 -- Logano and Kurt Busch go past Jeff Gordon, who is now shown in seventh place.

Lap 280 -- With 54 laps remaining, Kahne's lead over Johnson is 6.5 seconds.

Lap 270 -- The top five: Kahne, Johnson, Kenseth, Bowyer and Jeff Gordon.

Lap 260 -- Kahne's lead over Kenseth is now up to 2.4 seconds.

Lap 250 -- A good stop by Kenseth has him running second, within eight car-lengths of Kahne. Clint Bowyer, who has been running solidly in the top 10 for much of the night, is up to fourth.

Lap 248 -- LEAD CHANGE: Kahne resumes the lead after the green-flag pit stops recycle the field.

Lap 247 -- LEAD CHANGE: Kurt Busch takes over when Kahne hits the pit lane. Stewart and Logano also make their stops.

Lap 246 -- Jeff Gordon is in for service. Robby Gordon is too fast entering pit road.

Lap 245 -- Johnson gives up third place and stops for four tires and fuel.

Lap 244 -- Truex is in and out.

Lap 243 -- Kyle Busch is in for a green-flag stop.

Lap 234 -- 100 laps to go. The top three: Kahne, Kenseth, Johnson.

Lap 228 -- Montoya returns to the pits for service.

Lap 223 -- LEAD CHANGE: Kahne surges past Kenseth for the lead.

Lap 220 -- The top five: Kenseth, Kahne, Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch. Kenseth puts Montoya two laps down.

Lap 204 -- Martin is back up to 19th after getting repairs for a hole caused by his contact with Montoya earlier. He had dropped to 24th at one point.

Lap 200 -- Edwards makes an unscheduled stop to check to make sure all the tires are tight. He apparently was suffering from a vibration.

Lap 194 -- GREEN FLAG: Kenseth leads the field to the green.
1. Matt Kenseth
2. Jimmie Johnson
3. Kurt Busch
4. Jeff Gordon
5. Kasey Kahne

Lap 193 -- Hamlin makes one slow lap, then brings it back in and heads for the garage area.

Lap 192 -- And Hamlin returns to pit road and the crew pops the hood. They may have dropped a valve, which means the car is running on only seven cylinders.

Lap 190 -- LEAD CHANGE: Kenseth takes the lead off pit road.

Lap 189 -- Everybody pits for fresh rubber.
• With the exception of Kahne, who apparently took fuel only, the rest of the leaders choose the two-tire strategy this time.

Lap 188 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 6: There's a big piece of red metal on the track. It's Montoya's right-rear quarter panel, as evidenced by the big Target logo. David Gilliland gets the free pass.

Lap 178 -- We're halfway, with Gordon, Kenseth and Hamlin the top three.

Lap 171 -- LEAD CHANGE: Gordon drives back to the front. David Stremme scrapes the wall.

Lap 168 -- GREEN FLAG: Hamlin leads the field to the green.
1. Denny Hamlin
2. Jeff Gordon
3. Matt Kenseth
4. Jimmie Johnson
5. Greg Biffle

Lap 167 -- Montoya's crew works feverishly to repair his car, but he's 38th, two laps down.

Lap 166 -- LEAD CHANGE: Hamlin nips Gordon at the exit of pit road.

Lap 165 -- Pits are open and the leaders come in.
• All of the leaders choose to take four tires.

Lap 163 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 5: Montoya's damaged right-front fender finally casues him to lose control and spin out exiting Turn 4. He may have lost two laps to Gordon.

Lap 150 -- The top five: Gordon, Hamlin, Johnson, Kahne, Kenseth.

Lap 136 -- Johnson goes around Biffle for third.

Lap 134 -- Kahne goes around Kenseth for fifth.

Lap 126 -- Montoya has right-side damage after contact by Martin on the restart. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is slowing with transmission issues. After the crew checks it, he heads for the garage area.

Lap 125 -- GREEN FLAG: Jeff Gordon brings the field to the green.
1. Jeff Gordon
2. Greg Biffle
3. Ryan Newman
4. Denny Hamlin
5. Matt Kenseth

Lap 121 -- LEAD CHANGE: Jeff Gordon is the new leader.

Lap 120 -- The leaders head for pit road:
• Montoya complains his car was extremely loose.
• Hamlin gets air pressure adjustment.
• Jeff Gordon, Biffle and Newman make two-tire stops.

Lap 119 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 4: Kyle Busch spins sideways in Turn 4. Robby Gordon gets the free pass.

Lap 112 -- Martin Truex Jr. and David Reutimann have cracked the top 10. Dave Blaney is standing by in Reutimann's pits in case he needs relief. Apparently he's sick this weekend.

Lap 100 -- Your current top five:
1. Denny Hamlin
2. Matt Kenseth
3. Kyle Busch
4. Jimmie Johnson
5. Juan Montoya

Lap 99 -- LEAD CHANGE: Hamlin chases down Kenseth and returns to the top spot.

Lap 95 -- LEAD CHANGE: Elliott pits, handing the lead back to Kenseth.

Lap 94 -- LEAD CHANGE: Bill Elliott leads as Hamlin pits during green-flag stops.

Lap 93 -- Kyle Busch is in. Michael Waltrip may be penalized for an uncontrolled tire.

Lap 92 -- Kahne and Stewart complete service.

Lap 91 -- Martin in and out. Newman's stop is painfully slow (21 seconds).

Lap 90 -- Edwards and Johnson pit for service. Johnson had been fading on that run. There's a slight problem and Johnson's exit is somewhat delayed.

Lap 89 -- Kenseth is the first of the lead-lap cars to pit under green. His left-side tires had gone the entire distance.

Lap 87 -- Montoya has worked his way into the top five and is pressuring Johnson for fourth.

Lap 80 -- Hamlin is beginning to catch lapped traffic. The rest of the top five: Kenseth, Johnson, Kyle Busch, Martin.

Lap 71 -- LEAD CHANGE: Hamlin runs down Johnson and assumes the lead.

Lap 60 -- Stewart is fighting a loose car and has slipped back to 18th.

Lap 59 -- Mike Bliss brushes the right side of his car against the wall but continues without incident.

Lap 56 -- Hamlin motors past Kenseth for second.

Lap 52 -- LEAD CHANGE: Johnson roars past Kenseth on the backstretch.

Lap 50 -- The top six: Kenseth, Johnson, Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Martin and Mears.

Lap 45 -- LEAD CHANGE: Kenseth clears Johnson and retakes the lead.

Lap 43 -- LEAD CHANGE: Johnson edges Kenseth at the line as they run side-by-side.

Lap 42 -- GREEN FLAG: Kenseth brings the field to the stripe.
1. Matt Kenseth
2. Jimmie Johnson
3. Mark Martin
4. Kyle Busch
5. Denny Hamlin

Lap 41 -- LEAD CHANGE: Terry Labonte and Max Papis pit, with Kenseth assuming the lead.

Lap 40 -- LEAD CHANGE: Michael Waltrip pits, handing the lead under caution to Terry Labonte.

Lap 38 -- The rain has almost stopped in Turn 4 but seems to have picked up some in other areas. NASCAR officials have the cars spread out across the track in an effort to keep the asphalt dry.

Lap 35 -- LEAD CHANGE: The pits are open and everyone is taking advantage of the opportunity, except Michael Waltrip stays out and assumes the lead.
• Kenseth takes two tires and moves up seven positions.
• Casey Mears gambles on two tires and picks up track position.
• Brad Keselowski is caught speeding exiting pit road.

Lap 34 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 3: This one's for weather. The rain has returned, although it's very light.

Lap 31 -- The NASCAR spotters in Turns 3 and 4 are reporting slight sprinkles again.

Lap 30 -- Hamlin is up to seventh, 10 spots better than where he started.

Lap 25 -- The top three have pulled away some from the rest of the field. It's Johnson, Martin and Kyle Busch in that order.

Lap 20 -- Joey Logano has worked his way into sixth, while Tony Stewart has faded to 13th.

Lap 13 -- GREEN FLAG: Johnson leads the field to the green.
1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Mark Martin
3. Kasey Kahne
4. Ryan Newman
5. Brad Keselowski

Lap 11 -- Kevin Harvick is penalized for excessive speed entering pit road. He'll restart at the tail end of the field.

Lap 9 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 2: Sam Hornish once again turns it around, this time coming out of Turn 4. He continues without further damage. No free pass.

Lap 7 -- LEAD CHANGE: Johnson returns to the top spot.

Lap 6 -- GREEN FLAG: Martin brings the field to the stripe.
1. Mark Martin
2. Jimmie Johnson
3. Ryan Newman
4. Kasey Kahne
5. Brad Keselowski

Lap 3 -- YELLOW FLAG NO. 1: Hornish loses it coming out of Turn 2 and spins several times, somehow keeping it off the inside wall. But he has damage to the right rear from scraping the wall before the spin. No free passes.

Lap 1 -- LEAD CHANGE: Martin sticks with Johnson as they go side-by-side, with Martin getting the advantage at the line.

7:50 p.m. -- GREEN FLAG: Johnson brings the field to the green flag and the NASCAR Banking 500 is under way.

7:47 p.m. -- Paul Menard and Bill Elliott are dropping to the back for the start.

7:43 p.m. -- The field is lining up in double-file order and will check their tachs for pit road speed. The speed tonight is 45 mph.

7:40 p.m. -- NASCAR spotters around the track are reporting back to David Hoots about the conditions. Hoots has asked the drivers to run single-file during the parade laps in an effort to help dry any damp spots.

7:34 p.m. -- Brian France, Teresa Earnhardt, Richard Petty and Junior Johnson, representing the inaugural class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, give the command for drivers to start their engines.

7:33 p.m. -- There is a light drizzle right now but it doesn't appear to have affected the track conditions.

7:27 p.m. -- The North Carolina A&T marching band performs the national anthem.

7:25 p.m. -- Joe Gibbs offers tonight's invocation.

7 p.m. -- NASCAR Countdown is under way on ABC.

6:27 p.m. -- It's cloudy and cold at Lowe's Motor Speedway. It's currently 50 degrees with temperatures dropping into the mid-40s as the race goes on. There is a slight chance for rain all evening. Green for the NASCAR Banking 500 is set for 7:43 p.m. ET.

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