News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 24, 2010

BRICKYARD NOTEBOOK: Juan Pablo Montoya hopes to get ahead early

Tom Reck
The Tribune-Star

INDIANAPOLIS — Juan Montoya has always run well at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and added to his track resume’ Saturday by winning the pole for today’s Brickyard 400.

Montoya was fourth in the qualifying line and his lap of 182.278 miles per hour in the No. 42 Target Chevrolet was best when the qualifying was done about noon, earning the No. 1 starting slot for today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race.

He earned his fourth pole in 129 Sprint Cup races and his first at Indianapolis. He started second in the 2007 race and finished second.

It’s his second pole and 11th top-10 start of 2010.

Montoya was dominant when he won the Indianapolis 500 in 2000 and ran well in Formula One events at the track.

A year ago, he qualified second and dominated the action in the NASCAR race until losing the lead on the 124th lap when he incurred a pit-stop penalty and finished 11th.

“We looked at it. We understand what happened. You know, I mean, I think we were just too close to the [speed] limit. Just back it down a little … there’s nothing you can do about it,” said Montoya, recalling the 2009 race.

Montoya drives for Chip Ganassi, who can become the first car owner to win the Daytona 500, Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400 in the same year if Montoya or Jamie McMurray wins today.

He also would be the first one to win both Indianapolis races the same year. The former driver talked about what it means to race at Indianapolis.

“I like coming here … I got my career started here. The fans are great, the people that own the track here have maintained a lot of tradition over the years,” he said.

“And, you know, it’s one of the places you can go in the country that you are well-respected to be in this business in this city. That’s what makes it so special,” he added.

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Martin up there again — Mark Martin was on the pole for last year’s race and challenged Jimmie Johnson at the end for the win to finish second.

This year has not gone so well for the favorite of the fans but he will start third today in the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, qualifying 27th as the track surface temperature rose to about 110 degrees.

“The car was just solid. It was yesterday [in practice] as well. We didn’t have the best [qualifying] draw … but we had a good, solid race car,” said Martin.

“My race team has been so determined and so dug in for several weeks now. We’re excited about getting back in contention here. I want to thank my fans for hanging in there with us,” he said.



Pit passes — Some of the Sprint Cup drivers also competed in the Kroger 200 Nationwide Series race at O’Reilly Raceway Park, making for a busy Saturday.

After qualifying for the Brickyard 400, they went to ORP for practice, returned to IMS for practice, then returned to ORP for qualifying and the race.

• Drivers competing in the Brickyard 400 for the first time are Jacques Villeneuve, Brad Keselowski, Landon Cassill, Max Papis, and Kevin Conway.

Papis and Villeneuve are two of 14 drivers to start at least one Indianapolis 500 and one Brickyard 400.

Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte and Martin will become the only drivers to start all 17 Brickyard 400 races.

• Ryan Newman will start fifth. The native Hoosier has qualified in the top eight for nine of his 10 Brickyard starts.

• Chevrolet swept the first six slots and nine of the first 10 in the qualifying. Greg Biffle qualified seventh in the only Ford in the top 10.

 

Tom Reck may be contacted by telephone at (812) 232-3231 or by e-mail at tm_reck@yahoo.com.