Event: NASCAR Nextel Cup Series SaveMart 350 (race No. 15 of 36) Calif. Weather: Sunny and warm Winner: Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the ...
Event: NASCAR Nextel Cup Series SaveMart 350 (race No. 15 of 36)
Weather: Sunny and warm
Winner: Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #42 Dodge from Chip Ganassi Racing
Top-five finishers: Montoya, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, Clint Bowyer and Greg Biffle
Race recap: Colombian native Juan Pablo Montoya became only the third foreign-born driver to ever win on the NASCAR Nextel Cup circuit, earning the victory on the 12-turn road course in Sonoma, Calif., on Sunday, after starting in 32nd position. No previous winner has started further back than 13th.
Montoya and his team played the fuel mileage game, last pitting on lap 69 of 110 on the 2.26-mile course. He outlasted many of his competitors and outraced a couple more to score the victory. When points leader Jeff Gordon pitted for a final splash of fuel on lap 77, it left Jamie McMurray and Kevin Harvick in the top three, all hoping to stretch their fuel to the finish. Montoya passed Harvick on the track on lap 92, then took the lead from McMurray 12 laps later, before McMurray's fuel tank ran dry at lap 109.
Fuel mileage was the key to the day during the first road course race for NASCAR's Car of Tomorrow. Many of the front-runners were relegated to finishes in the middle of the pack, based on their pit window. A prime example of that was Robby Gordon, who led the most laps on the day but was forced to pit once more than Montoya and wound up with a 15th-place finish. There were seven cautions for 14 laps and 11 lead changes among eight drivers.
Jeff Gordon, who started the race at the back of the pack with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson because of rules infractions, finished seventh. He now leads Denny Hamlin by 271 points in the standings, pending any potential penalties to be levied by NASCAR.
The Nextel Cup Series is back in action at New Hampshire International Speedway next Sunday.
Goodyear quote -- Rick Heinrich, product manager: "This was our first road course race on this tire, which also is used as the right-side tire on the short track at Martinsville. Pit strategy was extremely important for teams on Sunday, and our tires proved to be very reliable all day long."
-credit: goodyear racing