Montoya continues to set Loudon pace
|By Diego Mejia||Saturday, September 19th 2009, 20:03 GMT|
Juan Pablo Montoya and his Earnhardt Ganassi Racing team have continued to dominate at Loudon, sweeping all practice sessions and pole position for Sunday's race, the first of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
The Colombian had commanded practice on Friday and backed that up later with his second career pole position, setting a new track record. On Saturday morning he was fastest again, followed by his team-mate Martin Truex Jr, while Hendrick driver Mark Martin was third, one tenth off Montoya's best.
During the final practice session of the weekend the 33-year-old was up front again, beating Truex by 0.120 seconds, while Penske's Kurt Busch was third with the same time, five thousandths of a second quicker than points leader Martin, who was fourth fastest.
Montoya's team brought a new racecar to New Hampshire, implementing a series of developments which have meant a step forward in their performance.
Back in 2000, Jeff Burton led every lap on his way to victory at Loudon. Montoya was asked if he thought that was possible this year given how dominant he has been through practice and qualifying, but he said pitstops are likely to shuffle the order during the 300-lap event.
"As long as I lead the last [lap], I don't care," said Montoya. "Every pitstop needs to be good and you've got to have a good car because if I'm leading, the chances of coming out of the pits every time leading are pretty slim.
"So you've got to have a good car for traffic. And you've got to be smart and see where your car is good and where it's not, the way you do every week."
Back in June, Montoya finished 12th at Loudon, leading the race for six laps. The track is where the Ganassi driver first competed on an oval back in 1994, while contesting the Barber Saab Pro Series.
Most of the Chase drivers ran among the top 15 in practice, while Brian Vickers, Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards were further down the order in the final session on Saturday, Edwards finishing only 29th fastest.