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Montoya looking for big finish at Sonoma


The pressure is off Juan Pablo Montoya to win at Sonoma Raceway, where his road-course background has created an expectation for him to win every year.

As he inches closer to finally winning on an oval track, the annual stop at the 1.99-mile road course has become less stressful. Montoya has four top-10s in six career starts at Sonoma, where he won his first career Sprint Cup race in 2007.

Montoya arrived at Sonoma ranked 22nd in the standings, having made a slow climb behind stronger finishes in the last eight races. He’s got three top-10 finishes and contended for wins at Richmond and Dover.

He wound up second to Tony Stewart at Dover, where some wondered if the fiery Montoya had mellowed because he didn’t put up a fight when Stewart passed him for the win. The common thinking was the old Montoya might have wrecked Stewart to preserve a victory.

Montoya admitted Friday he’s starving for a victory – the last of his two career Sprint Cup wins was in 2010 at Watkins Glen – but is focusing on making the 12-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup championship field.

Police assign blame

New Jersey state police say a mechanical problem is to blame for the dirt-track racing crash that killed NASCAR driver Jason Leffler last week.

A not-yet-complete report finds that Leffler was not able to turn as he came out of the fourth turn and spun out, slamming into the concrete wall along the side of the track.

The 37-year-old Leffler was a two-time winner on the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

Pit stops

After clinching his first IndyCar Series title last season thanks to back-to-back wins at Milwaukee and Iowa, Ryan Hunter-Reay looks to do the same in 2013. He heads into Sunday’s race at Iowa Speedway trailing series leader Helio Castroneves by 16 points after a win last week at Milwaukee. … The International Automobile Federation (FIA), which oversees Formula One, has reprimanded Mercedes and Pirelli for in-season tire testing that rival teams claimed was unfair.


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