It didn’t take Juan Pablo Montoya long to adapt to restrictor-plate racing. Now that he has enough horsepower, he could be in position to master the art at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
Montoya won the first pole of his NASCAR career Saturday, taking the top starting spot at Talladega Superspeedway to put himself in position for his first win on an oval. Since leaving Formula One in late 2006, the Colombian’s only wins have been on road courses.
“Is it going to make you the favorite to win the race? No,” Montoya said. “But we always run good here. The goal is to win the race.”
Montoya posted a lap at 188.171 mph, then had to wait almost two hours to see if his time would hold. He returned to his motor home for a snack and surfed the Internet as car after car failed to knock him from the top.
Greg Biffle almost knocked him off the pole, posting a speed of 188.141 to qualify second.
After his lap, Montoya figured teammate Martin Truex Jr. would be his toughest competition for the pole. But Truex’s lap at 187.971 mph was third.
Sam Hornish Jr. qualified fourth and Clint Bowyer was fifth.
After the qualifying session was finished, NASCAR announced that Robby Gordon and Reed Sorenson failed inspection.
David Ragan earned his first NASCAR victory by passing Ryan Newman right before the finish line at Talladega Superspeedway.
Ragan won for the first time in 196 starts – 85 in Nationwide – spanning all three of NASCAR’s top series.
Newman started from the pole and led the field on a final restart for a two-lap sprint to the finish. He had his hands full with Dale Earnhardt Jr., who followed him bumper-to-bumper as he looked for a chance to pass.
But Newman and Earnhardt made contact when Earnhardt tried to dart around him on the final lap. Ragan used some momentum off a push from Joey Logano and squeezed by Newman for the win.
The race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan., was suspended by thunderstorms and will resume on Monday.
Ron Hornaday Jr. earned the pole for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 250 in the morning, but the race lasted just 52 laps after heavy storms moved into the area.
Graham Rahal earned his second pole in three races at Kansas Speedway and will be joined on the front row by surprising teammate Robert Doornbos and Danica Patrick for today’s Road Runner Turbo Indy 300.
Rahal, 20, opened the season by becoming the youngest pole sitter in IRL history at St. Pete on April 4 and was seventh last week at the Long Beach Grand Prix. He kept the trend going at 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway, averaging 211.311 mph for his first pole on an oval.
Toyota’s Jarno Trulli claimed the pole position for the Bahrain Grand Prix at Sakhir, with teammate Timo Glock posting the second-fastest time.
Toyota, which has never won a race, filled the front row for the first time. Trulli clocked 1:33.431 for only the fourth pole of his long career.