Martin beats Montoya to Loudon win
|By Diego Mejia||Sunday, September 20th 2009, 21:37 GMT|
Mark Martin claimed his fifth win of the season and continued to lead the Chase for the Sprint Cup after holding off Juan Pablo Montoya in the final restart at Loudon.
The Hendrick driver ran out of sequence with the leaders shortly after halfway through, when he stayed out as most of the frontrunners pitted. Moving up to second place, he then claimed the lead from Kurt Busch, and once the final round of stops cycled through he emerged up front.
The 50-year-old veteran looked on his way to an uncontested win but a series of cautions in the closing laps made him work hard for his win. Montoya moved up from fifth to second on the penultimate restart and lined up beside him for the final sprint when the green flag waved for the final four laps.
The pair fought it out hard for a couple of laps, but Martin put all his experience to good use to fend off the challenge from the Colombian, who led the most laps after starting from pole.
The race eventually finished under caution when AJ Allmendinger got spun on the second-last lap, with Martin taking his first career win at Loudon, stretching his lead in the championship.
Behind Martin Denny Hamlin finished second, although he crossed the line behind Montoya. However the order was reverted as the caution came out when Hamlin was ahead of the Ganassi driver, as the pair battled side-by-side for the runner-up spot in the last two laps.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver ran up front for the majority of the race, enjoying some good battles for the lead with Montoya. His runner-up finish moved him up to third place in the standings.
Montoya was dominant in the early going, looking unbeatable at the beginning of the runs. His team ran a different sequence halfway through the race trying to prevent an extra stop but he eventually ended up pitting for the last time under green.
On his last pitstop he changed four tyres compared to Hamlin's two and had to recover the ground he lost in the closing stages. On the penultimate restart, he came from fifth to second in just two laps and then had a shot at beating Martin when another caution came out. His third place allowed him to move up to fourth in the Chase.
Reigning champion Jimmie Johnson finished fourth and is second in the Chase, 35 points behind Martin. He wasn't a contender for the win but still had a solid run to start his title defence in style.
Tony Stewart, who had led the championship for the past 13 weeks, suffered a mechanical issue with the left rear wheel in the first half of the race, apparently caused by contact with Denny Hamlin in the early going. He managed to finish 14th dropping down to sixth in the championship.
Pos Driver Car Laps 1. Mark Martin Chevrolet 300 2. Juan Montoya Chevrolet 300 3. Denny Hamlin Toyota 300 4. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 300 5. Kyle Busch Toyota 300 6. Kurt Busch Dodge 300 7. Ryan Newman Chevrolet 300 8. Elliott Sadler Dodge 300 9. Greg Biffle Ford 300 10. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 300 11. Brian Vickers Toyota 300 12. David Reutimann Toyota 300 13. Casey Mears Chevrolet 300 14. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 300 15. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 300 16. Carl Edwards Ford 300 17. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 300 18. Marcos Ambrose Toyota 300 19. Jamie McMurray Ford 300 20. Martin Truex Jr Chevrolet 300 21. Joey Logano Toyota 300 22. Bobby Labonte Chevrolet 300 23. Matt Kenseth Ford 300 24. Robby Gordon Toyota 300 25. AJ Allmendinger Dodge 300 26. John Andretti Chevrolet 300 27. Michael Waltrip Toyota 298 28. David Stremme Dodge 298 29. Aric Almirola Dodge 297 30. Erik Darnell Ford 297 31. Scott Speed Toyota 297 32. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 295 33. David Ragan Ford 287 34. Paul Menard Ford 287 35. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 283 36. Reed Sorenson Dodge 263 37. Sam Hornish Jr Dodge 162 38. Kasey Kahne Dodge 66 39. Mike Wallace Toyota 48 40. Joe Nemechek Toyota 41 41. Michael McDowell Toyota 36 42. Dave Blaney Toyota 23 43. Tony Raines Dodge 8 Chase For The Cup - Points Standings: Pos Driver Change Points 1. Mark Martin -- 5230 2. Jimmie Johnson +1 5195 + 35 3. Denny Hamlin +1 5195 + 35 4. Juan Montoya +7 5175 + 55 5. Kurt Busch +2 5165 + 65 6. Tony Stewart -4 5156 + 74 7. Ryan Newman +3 5151 + 79 8. Brian Vickers 5140 + 90 9. Greg Biffle +3 5138 + 92 10. Jeff Gordon -4 5128 +102 11. Carl Edwards -2 5117 +113 12. Kasey Kahne -7 5069 +161