Juan Pablo Montoya will have a hard time playing the role of dark horse if he keeps driving like this.
The former Formula One star will make his debut in NASCAR’s Chase for the championship from the pole after setting a track record at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Friday in Loudon, N.H.
Montoya turned a lap at 133.431 mph on the 1.058-mile oval, breaking the mark of 133.357 set by Ryan Newman in 2003. It’s a good way to start the 10-race Chase, but Montoya cautioned it’s just a start.
“If it was a 10-lap shootout, I’d say ‘Hey, we’re pretty good,’ ” Montoya said.
The Earnhardt Ganassi Racing driver will have plenty of company from his fellow Chase drivers Sunday. Tony Stewart, who won the regular-season title, will start second. Kurt Busch is third. Denny Hamlin qualified fourth, with Carl Edwards fifth.
RPM counts on Kahne
Kasey Kahne knows his Richard Petty Motorsports team can’t afford a slow start when the Chase for the championship begins Sunday.
It’s about the only thing the driver of the No. 9 Dodge knows for sure these days.
Kahne’s return to NASCAR’s 12-driver Chase after a two-year absence has given RPM a much-needed confidence boost, but it’s done little to quell the uncertainty surrounding the team.
Last week RPM unveiled a plan to merge with Yates Racing in 2010, a deal that remains short on details other than a switch from Dodge to Ford. Days later, vice president Mark McArdle left the team after an apparent falling out with RPM co-owner George Gillett.
Tryson remains mum
Crew chief Pat Tryson would not discuss his reasons for leaving Penske Racing at the end of this season, saying only that the decision has nothing to do with driver Kurt Busch.
Tryson is moving to Michael Waltrip Racing next year to crew chief for Martin Truex Jr.
New Zealand’s Scott Dixon won the Indy Japan 300 at Motegi, Japan, today to take over the IndyCar series points lead with one race remaining.
Dixon, who started from the pole position and led for most of the race, took over the lead for good on the 164th lap and finished 1.4475 seconds ahead of Target Chip Ganassi teammate Dario Franchitti for his fifth win of the season.