Sunday, October 31, 2010

Montoya Targets Talladega Pole for AMP Energy 500

Jason Smith/ Getty images for NASCAR

Drawing an early run through afternoon time trials, Juan Pablo Montoya placed the #42 Target-sponsored Chevrolet on pole for Sunday's AMP Energy 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. Only the 6th car set to take the track, Montoya's Earnhardt-Childress Racing (ECR) Engine benefited with the earlier, cooler conditions to circulate around the 2.66 mile tri-oval in 51.863 seconds or 184.640 miles per hour. Undefeated in competition on NASCAR Sprint Cup restrictor plate races this season, the ECR engine program has yet another reason to celebrate as Montoya and Richard Childress Racing's #33 Chevrolet of Clint Bowyer occupy the front row.

Kurt Busch provided a strong run for the 3rd fastast run in qualifying with his Penske Racing #2 Dodge while Joe Nemecheck provides a minor surprise by rushing his #87 Toyota into 4th place. Saying it's a minor surprise, it is typical on restrictor plate tracks that smaller, underfunded teams like Nemechek's independent effort will take measures to add horsepower which is inadvisable but worthwhile in gaining a higher field presence in the race. Several other cars including the #36 Chevrolet of Tommy Baldwin Racing, the #13 Germain Racing Toyota, a second Nemechek #97 Toyota and the #46 Chevy owned by Dusty Whitney are shaped within the top-15 of the AMP Energy 500.

In relations to the ever-more important Chase for the Sprint Cup as only 3 races remain after Talladega, the top-two drivers in points have taken conservative runs through superspeedway qualifying. Denny Hamlin qualified 17th while Jimmie Johnson is 19th. For the #11 Toyota of Hamlin, his starting spot is the highest for the Joe Gibbs Racing team with Joey Logano placing 25th and Kyle Busch buried early in 32rd spot. In the Hendrick Motorsports stable, Jeff Gordon as well as Mark Martin will start just ahead of Kyle Busch's #18 Toyota in 30th and 31st positions. From the drop of the green flag, revered but embattled superspeedway driver Dale Earnhardt Jr #88 Chevy team leads the Hendrick drivers with a 6th place result after qualifying.

While speeds have been contained under the 185-mile per hour range for single-car qualifying, practice speeds in multiple-vehicle drafting conditions have seen NASCAR Sprint Cup cars flying more than 12 miles per hour faster.

Talladega Superspeedway, the 2.66 mile tri-oval is immediately going allow drivers to gain considerable ground within a span of a single lap. Conversely, the track also presents NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers an invitation to make a smallest mistake which will either cost positions or even their race car. The 'Big Wreck' is always a high probability at Talladega and been known to change everything. Drivers in tight points battles inside and outside of the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup will be on edge for 188 laps Sunday.

2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup
AMP Energy 500
Talladega Superspeedway
October 30, 2010

Starting Lineup:
  1. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet
  2. 33 Clint Bowyer BB&T Chevrolet
  3. 2 Kurt Busch Operation Home Front/Miller Lite Dodge
  4. 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota
  5. 31 Jeff Burton Cat Financial Chevrolet
  6. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. LgndofHllwdegaAMPEnrgyJuice/NtnlGrd Chev
  7. 36 Dave Blaney Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet
  8. 39 Ryan Newman U.S. ARMY Chevrolet
  9. 13 Casey Mears GEICO Toyota 
  10. 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Mobil 1 Dodge
  11. 12 Brad Keselowski No. 12 Penske Dodge
  12. 1 Jamie McMurray Bass Pro Shops Tribute Chevrolet
  13. 97 Jeff Fuller Toyota 
  14. 29 Kevin Harvick Realtree/Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet
  15. 46 Michael McDowell Whitney's Collision Centers Chevrolet 
  16. 83 Kasey Kahne Red Bull Toyota
  17. 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Freight Toyota 
  18. 56 Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Toyota
  19. 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet
  20. 55 Michael Waltrip Aaron's 55th Anniversary Toyota 
  21. 00 David Reutimann Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota
  22. 71 Chad McCumbee TRG Motorsports/ModSpace Chevrolet 
  23. 99 Carl Edwards Subway Ford
  24. 09 Bobby Labonte Komatsu/TEC Chevrolet 
  25. 20 Joey Logano Home Depot Toyota
  26. 14 Tony Stewart Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet
  27. 17 Matt Kenseth Crown Royal Black Ford
  28. 6 David Ragan UPS Ford
  29. 82 Scott Speed Red Bull Toyota
  30. 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet
  31. 24 Jeff Gordon DuPont/National Guard Chevrolet
  32. 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota
  33. 19 Elliott Sadler Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford
  34. 16 Greg Biffle 3M Ford
  35. 47 Marcos Ambrose Kleenex/Clorox Toyota
  36. 43 A J Allmendinger Valvoline Ford 
  37.  9 Aric Almirola Budweiser Ford
  38. 98 Paul Menard Serta/Menards Ford
  39. 78 Regan Smith Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet
  40. 37 David Gilliland Taco Bell Ford
  41. 34 Robert Richardson Jr. A&W All American Food Ford 
  42.  7 Robby Gordon Speed Energy Toyota
  43. 26 Bill Elliott Air Guard Ford

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