Make us your home page

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

  1. Peter Budaj, Lightning lose to Devils in shootout; Nikita Kucherov scores

    Lightning Strikes

    NEWARK, N.J. — For Peter Budaj, Tuesday's season debut had a shaky start.

    The Lightning’s Vladislav Namestnikov, right, battles Damon Severson for the puck.
  2. Lightning's Steve Yzerman enjoying Nikita Kucherov's scoring run

    Lightning Strikes

    NEWARK, N.J. — If anyone knows what it is like to be as hot as Nikita Kucherov is right now, it's Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman.

    Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov, of Russia, celebrates after scoring a goal on the New Jersey Devils during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
  3. Bucs journal: Offense needs to get off to a faster start


    TAMPA — The past two games have seen the Bucs offense muster furious rallies in the fourth quarter of losses, with 229 yards against the Patriots and a franchise-record 27 points against the Cardinals.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field before an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017.
  4. NFL players, owners hold 'constructive' talks on issues


    NEW YORK — NFL players and owners met Tuesday to discuss social issues, a session Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross called "constructive" and Colts defensive back Darius Butler termed "positive."

    A coalition of advocacy groups 'take a knee' outside of a hotel where members the quarterly NFL league meetings are being held on Tuesday in New York City.  Owners, players and commissioner Roger Goodell are all expected to attend. The activists spoke of having solidarity with athletes and coaches around the country who have also kneeled in protest of racial injustice, especially in policing.
 [Getty Images]
  5. Lightning's Steve Yzerman: Nikita Kucherov 'wants to be great'


    If anyone knows what it is like to be as hot as Nikita Kucherov is right now, it's Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman.

    Nikita Kucherov joined Steve Yzerman, Mario Lemieux and Keith Tkachuk as the only players in the last 30 years to score a goal in each of his team's first six games.