Juan Pablo Montoya headed into qualifying for the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 on Friday looking for a few things to occur this weekend. He is currently 20th in the Sprint Cup points standings and has yet to win a NASCAR race on an oval.
He has put himself in good position for this first win as he won the pole after turning a lap of 132.337 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. This will mark the second straight time Montoya will start from the pole at New Hampshire. Last year he won the pole only to eke out a third place finish.
“I think last year we were too conservative here against Mark Martin, but it was the beginning of the Chase and we thought we needed to be very smart and take the points,” Montoya said. “Right now, we are kind of in the same situation. We need a lot of points. We’ll see what happens.”
With just ten races remaining before the field is set for the 2010 Chase, Montoya is looking to gain some ground from his current 20th position on Sunday. He is currently 161 points from 12th place and will need a good run at New Hampshire to move up in the standings. Montoya believes he can get his No. 42 Chevrolet competing for a championship.
“We are miles ahead right now,” of last year, he said. “We have more top-10s, more top fives. We have a much faster race car than what we had last year at this point. But we had a blown engine. We got together with our teammate. We’ve been involved in I don’t know how many wrecks from other people.”
Montoya made the Chase for the first time last season. The former Formula One star has four top-fives and eight top 10s this year, but has six finishes in the 30s. He did not even think his lap on Friday would be fast enough to get him the pole and in position to make a big move on Sunday.
“I got sideways and got on the gas and I thought they were going to kill me,” he said. “I’m about to press the button and say, ‘Sorry guys, I got loose,’ and they say, good job. I’m like, ‘Oh, thank you.’”
Kasey Kahne finished second in qualifying and was followed by Kurt Busch, Mark Martin and Ryan Newman.
NASCAR sportsbooks do not feel that starting from the pole will get him the victory as they have his odds set at 12/1, along with Kahne and Martin, to win on Sunday. Busch has his odds set at 7/1 while Newman is at 25/1. Jimmie Johnson, who finished 10th in qualifying, has his odds set at 5/1.