Juan Pablo Montoya, making his first trip around Indianapolis Motor Speedway, drove the No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge to a runner-up finish in Sunday’s Brickyard 400. Montoya started on the outside pole, which marked his career best Nextel Cup start to date. From there, he remained in the top 10 for the entire race before bringing home the second-place finish. It was the Texaco/Havoline Team’s third top-five finish of the season and moved the team up two spots–to 18th–in the championship standings where they are now sitting just 200 points out of the 12th position.
After starting outside teammate Reed Sorenson, who had earned his first Cup pole on Saturday, Montoya told crew chief Donnie Wingo the No. 42 Dodge was really tight. The yellow flag waved on lap 14 with Montoya running in the fifth position. He brought the car down pit road for four tires, fuel, along with air pressure and chassis adjustments.
Despite complaining of a tight race car, Montoya and Wingo both knew the Texaco/Havoline Dodge was quick. Montoya was able to pass cars on the track, while Wingo made smart pit calls to keep him running in the top 10. The Texaco/Havoline crew also made extremely consistent pit stops that contributed to the top-five effort. Track position would turn out to be the key of the race, as several incidents plagued the competition.
By lap 100, Montoya was running fifth. He passed two cars to move up to third when green-flag pit stops began on lap 123. Wingo did not want to adjust on the car too much for fear of loosening up the car. Following the team’s pit stop on lap 127, Montoya radioed Wingo to tell him he made a good call. The car was really loose. The Texaco/Havoline Dodge did tighten up for Montoya, and when the No. 8 lost its engine and brought out the caution on lap 136, Montoya was running in the top five.
Wingo didn’t wan to give up the track position, so he told Montoya to remain on the track. The green flag dropped on lap 140 and Montoya was fourth. He passed the No. 24 car on lap 142, but the two cars in front of him were more than two second ahead. After the leaders had a heated battle, the No. 29 car had used up his tires. Montoya made the pass on the driver on lap 157 for second and held on for a runner-up finish.
Montoya once again earned Raybestos Rookie of the Race honors, and wrote his name in the rookie history books by earning the best finish for a first-year driver in the 14-year history of the race.