Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Lugnut Report: Juan Pablo Montoya Survives Darlington, Looks to Continue Strong Run

Juan Pablo Montoya finished ninth in the 2009 Chase to the Sprint Cup championship, and he and his No. 42 Target Chevrolet team were looking for even better things in 2010.

And despite four top fives and six top tens, Montoya still finds himself winless, and overally disappointed with his season thus far. Entering this past weekend's Showtime Southern 500 at Darlington wasn't exactly the Columbian's idea of a fun time.

"I haven't found that (magic) in Darlington yet," Montoya told SB Nation's Jeff Gluck. "but if you ask (team manager) Tony Glover, he'll think that's the Holy Grail of NASCAR."

Montoya's evening with the Lady in Black was very much similar to his season; he started 15th, gathered more than one Darlington stripe, but managed to claw and scratch his way to a top five finish. It's a season that, along with those six top tens, has saw him finish outside the top 25 five times.

His fiery ways and risk taking moves haven't won him many fans, but it seems to be building his momentum as the 2010 season moves along.

"This Target Chevy was good all night," Montoya said after the race. "We worked really hard all day. In the beginning it was really fast, then it went away. It was hard work."

Montoya later went on to say, "I was pretty happy. I'm just relieved we got to the end to tell you the truth with a top five finish."

The fifth place finish was a Darlington career best for Montoya, who had yet to finish above 20th in his previous three starts.

He is currently 17th now in Cup standings, jumping up one spot after surving Darlington, but is 358 points behind points leader Kevin Harvick.

If he hopes to continue with this current wave of good fortune, JPM is going to have to battle his demons with the Monster Mile, Dover International Speedway.

Despite finishing fourth in the fall Dover race in 2009, Montoya has just two other top 15 finishes, and three finishes of 30th or worse, including a DNF in 2008.

However, being just 12 races into the season and with a string of top ten finishes under his belt, you'd be a fool to count out Montoya for a championship run just yet.

Thanks to SB Nation, Racing Reference, FOX, and the Vancouver Sun for the information, stats and quotes used in this post.

If you'd like to read Patti Rodisch's Lugnut Report on Mark Martin, click here.


Post a Comment