Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pressure off Montoya on Sprint Cup road

Juan Montoya has earned both of his career NASCAR Sprint Cup victories on road courses, including one at Sonoma.

Getty Images

Juan Montoya has earned both of his career NASCAR Sprint Cup victories on road courses, including one at Sonoma.

SONOMA, Calif. — The pressure is off Juan Montoya to win at Sonoma Raceway, where his road course background has created an expectation for him to win every year.

Related News/Archive

As he inches closer to finally winning on an oval, the annual stop at the 1.99-mile road course has become less stressful. Montoya has four top-10s in six career starts at Sonoma, where he earned his first Sprint Cup victory in 2007.

"We've been running really good on ovals, but I'm excited to come here and see how we run," Montoya said Friday. "I think it's exciting to come here because first we've got a shot at a win, worst-case scenario we can score a lot of points. We've got to make sure we execute and do our things right and see what happens."

Montoya is 22nd in points after a slow climb behind stronger finishes in the past eight races. He has three top-10 finishes and contended for wins at Richmond and Dover.

He wound up second to Tony Stewart at Dover, where some wondered if the fiery Montoya had mellowed because he didn't put up a fight when Stewart passed him for the win. The common thinking was the old Montoya might have wrecked Stewart to preserve a victory.

"Or old Stewart would have put the old Montoya in the wall. It's a two-way street," the Colombian said.

But that doesn't mean that, going into today's Toyota/Save Mart 350, Montoya doesn't want to win. He admitted he's starving for a victory — the last of his two Sprint Cup wins was in 2010 at Watkins Glen.

"It's hard because I think we're still in a position where we can make (the Chase for the Championship) on points, top 10," said Montoya, who qualified 13th Saturday. "I want to win badly, but I want to make the Chase even more badly. We've got to take chances to win, but we've got to take more chances to score big."

McMURRAY on pole: Jamie McMurray was the surprise pole-sitter for today's race, beating favorite Marcos Ambrose with a fast lap of 94.986 mph around the 1.99-mile course. NASCAR for the first time used group qualifying, and McMurray and Ambrose, who qualified second, were together in the final group. Tampa's Aric Almirola (93.038 mph) lines up 32nd, alongside Danica Patrick in Row 16.

Fired up: Toward the end of his first qualifying lap, Martin Truex was distracted by smoke from an electrical fire in the cockpit of his No. 56 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota. "The last few turns of the lap, I definitely screwed up, " he said, "because I had smoke flying, and it smelled really bad, and I was like, 'Oh, no, what's going on here?' Truex, who is 13th in the standings, 12 points outside the top 10, kept it together enough to qualify 14th.

. fast facts

Sprint Cup points

After 15 of 36 races. The top 10 in points plus two wild cards after 26 races make the Chase for the Championship.

Driver Pts. Back

J. Johnson 538—

Carl Edwards 507 31

Clint Bowyer 489 49

Kevin Harvick 476 62

Matt Kenseth 456 82

Kyle Busch 452 86

D. Earnhardt Jr. 447 91

Greg Biffle 443 95

Brad Keselowski 430 108

Tony Stewart 417 121

Pressure off Montoya on Sprint Cup road 06/22/13 [Last modified: Saturday, June 22, 2013 10:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays late-night bullpen shuffle: Alvarado, Pruitt down; Kolarek up

    Blogs

    The Rays shuffled their bullpen again after Tuesday's game, sending down struggling LHP Jose Alvarado along with RHP Austin Pruitt to Triple-A Durham, and turning next to LHP Adam Kolarek, who will make his major-league debut at age 28,

  2. Rays journal: Alex Cobb brilliant, Alex Colome worrying in 10-inning victory (w/video)

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — RHP Alex Cobb couldn't have been much better for the Rays on Tuesday, taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning while working eight solid. And Alex Colome couldn't have been much worse, blowing a two-run ninth-inning lead.

    Rays starter Alex Cobb carries a no-hitter into the seventh and pitches eight shutout innings in his best outing of the season.
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Tuesday's Rays-Pirates game

    The Heater

    RHP Alex Cobb continues to look better and better, which could make the decision whether to trade him tougher. Cobb had a no-hitter through six and threw his biggest pitch with a 1-0 lead in the seventh, getting Josh Bell to roll into a double play.

  4. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 27:  Tim Beckham #1 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with teammates after scoring during the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 27, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) 700011399
  5. Rays at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. Wednesday, Pittsburgh

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Pirates

    7:05, PNC Park, Pittsburgh

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Blake Snell #4 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)