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Montoya To Start From Front At Brickyard

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, July 24 2010

Juan Pablo Montoya will start Sunday's Brickyard 400 Sprint Cup race from the pole. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Indianapolis – Juan Pablo Montoya won the pole for Sunday’s Brickyard 400 on Saturday afternoon. He won it with a qualifying lap at 182.278 mph.

Montoya, who won the Indianapolis 500 in 2002 at the same Indianapolis Motor Speedway, circled the 2.5-mile track in 49.375 seconds.

Montoya appeared to be headed for a victory in last year’s Brickyard but was slapped with a pit road penalty late in the race. He finished 11th.

Second fastest Saturday was four-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, who had a lap at 182.142 mph. Johnson won the 2008 and 2009 Brickyards and will be going for a fourth victory in the event.

“Juan has been awesome,” Johnson said. “He knows what he’s doing. I think he is going to be a favorite (to win Sunday). I’m pretty sure he’s going to below the speed limit” on pit road.

Montoya could certainly use a victory on Sunday. A Chaser a year ago, he is 21st heading into the Brickyard. He sits 242 points out of the final Chase berth.

He was asked if he still had a chance to get to the playoffs this year.

“Well, it’s hard,” Montoya said. “We had so many problems earlier in the season and we lost so many points that to make them up, you can’t really stick to a plan. You’ve got to try to score more points and more things wrong came. It’s just been the season. We had a lot faster cars, both of us, Jamie (McMurray) and myself had really good cars. And I think both cars had ability to be in the Chase and neither of us are in the Chase. So it’s hard for the team and I think Jamie might still have a shot at it; I think I’m completely out of it.

“I think it’s a good lesson to learn that it doesn’t matter how fast you are, you have to execute and do all the things right, and we haven’t this year. We have to be smart about it. I think it’s a good lesson for the whole team to prepare ourselves for next year. I think it’s going to push everybody a little bit forward and make sure we’ve got faster cars and do a better job in the pits and myself do a better job, and just everybody.”

Mark Martin was third fastest and Jamie McMurray, Montoya’s teammate at Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing and the winner of the 2010 Daytona 500, was fourth.

Ryan Newman gave Chevrolet the top five spots on the starting grid as he was fifth.

Greg Biffle was the top Ford driver – he was seventh. Like all the factory Fords at the Brickyard, Biffle’s car was using the FR9 engine.

“The engine ran really good and I’m pretty happy with it,” Biffle said. “The engine was great with lots of horsepower.

Jamie Allison, head of Ford Racing’s NASCAR division, said, “We’re pleased” with the engine at Indy. He said the improved cooling has allowed the Fords to run less tape on the front ends at the Brickyard and that has improved speeds.

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, July 24 2010
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