Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Sports

Pressure off Montoya on Sprint Cup road

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.

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

Comments
Rays DFA Rob Refsnyder to make room for Kevin Kiermaier

Rays DFA Rob Refsnyder to make room for Kevin Kiermaier

The Rays made official after Monday's game that CF Kevin Kiermaier would be activated on Tuesday.And to make room on the 40- and 25 man rosters, they designated for assignment OF Rob Refsnyder.Acquired from the Indians for cash considerations just be...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Rays journal: A 4-0 lead disappears in loss at Houston

Rays journal: A 4-0 lead disappears in loss at Houston

HOUSTON — The Rays brought up several of their top prospects so they can get as much experience as possible.And Monday that included seeing how the relentless defending champion Astros worked their way back from an early four-run deficit to sco...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella pondered upside-down pitching in 2005

Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella pondered upside-down pitching in 2005

HOUSTON — Well before the idea of using a reliever to open games, as the Rays did against the Astros Monday for the 12th time, and then bringing in a starter was even a gleam in the eyes of the current Rays staff, former manager Lou Piniella wa...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays-Astros

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays-Astros

RHP Ryne Stanek continues to look comfortable and confident as the game opener, retiring all five batters he faced. His six starts now cover a complete game, and he has allowed only two runs in the nine innings.OF Carlos Gomez's feelings about not li...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Sports on TV/radio for Tuesday, June 19

TODAYBaseballOrioles at Nationals7 p.m.MLBRays at Astros8 p.m.Fox Sun; 620-AMMarlins at Giants10 p.m.FSFDiamondbacks at Angels10 p.m.ESPNCollege baseball, World SeriesFlorida vs. Texas2 p.m.ESPNTexas Tech vs. Arkansas7 p.m.ESPNGolfPGA Professionals c...
Published: 06/18/18
Iceland World Cup Fever … catch it!

Iceland World Cup Fever … catch it!

TAMPA — Iceland isn't what it used to be. Literally. The Nordic island country is shrinking, what with global warming. Iceland's glaciers are getting smaller. If you took all that ice and laid it end to end, well, you clearly have nothing bette...
Published: 06/18/18
For starters: Rays at Astros, trying to stop a streaking champion

For starters: Rays at Astros, trying to stop a streaking champion

UPDATE, 6:40: Cash said he had a good talk with Hechavarria, and that he understood the situation. Cash said Hechavarria will get to play some, and when he does it will be at short. … RHP Chris Archer (abdominal strain) is slated to throw a bul...
Published: 06/18/18
Kevin Kiermaier set to rejoin Rays Tuesday

Kevin Kiermaier set to rejoin Rays Tuesday

CF Kevin Kiermaier is here in Houston and will work out with the Rays today, and said that if all goes well he will be activated on Tuesday.That would be a couple days ahead of his most recent timetable, which had him slated to return to Friday.Kierm...
Published: 06/18/18

Captain’s Corner: Tips on targeting American Red Snapper

American Red Snapper (ARS) season opened a few days ago and some types of bottom are holding bigger schools of ARS then other bottom types. The hard bottom areas that most fishermen prefer are holding large schools of ARS, but the fish have yet to m...
Published: 06/18/18
Barry Trotz resigns as coach of Stanley Cup-winning Capitals

Barry Trotz resigns as coach of Stanley Cup-winning Capitals

Barry Trotz abruptly stepped down as coach of the Washington Capitals on Monday after failing to agree to terms on a new contract, a stunning move that left the newly minted Stanley Cup champions without a coach with the draft later this week and wit...
Published: 06/18/18