Сайт SceneDaily анализирует Монтойю по итогам сезона 2008

Перейти на www.scenedaily.comIn many ways, Juan Pablo Montoya suffered through the dreaded sophomore slump in 2008. After winning once and finishing in the top 10 six times during his rookie season of 2007, Montoya went winless this year, with only three top-10s.

But the former Formula One star said he and the team made progress, despite finishing 25th in the final Sprint Cup standings, five spots lower than in 2007.

Montoya, 33, did shine on Cup’s two road courses, finishing fourth and sixth. But he had only one other top-10 finish the rest of the season, a runnerup finish at Talladega Superspeedway in April, in a year that saw him collect purses of $4.4 million.

Montoya’s Chip Ganassi Racing team has merged with Dale Earnhardt Inc., and Montoya will drive for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing in 2009.

During the offseason, SceneDaily is taking a look at the top 30 in 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup driver points. Here’s how Montoya’s season unfolded:

By the numbers: Montoya started relatively well, finishing in the top 20 in eight of the first nine races, including his second-place result at Talladega. But the Chip Ganassi Racing driver then ended up outside the top 20 in 10 of the next 14 events to fall from a possible spot in the Chase For The Sprint Cup to 21st in the point standings. Montoya and new crew chief Brian Pattie made modest gains in the final third of the season, but Montoya was hampered by several DNFs. In all, he failed to finish nine races in 2008.

Season highlights: Montoya was strong in the season’s second restrictor-plate race, leading one lap and finishing behind winner Kyle Busch. The next race, Montoya qualified sixth at Richmond, marking only the ninth time in his career he started in the top 10. With his road-racing background, Montoya was also a threat at Infineon Raceway and Watkins Glen, finishing sixth at Sonoma and fourth at the Glen. Three of Montoya’s nine career top-10s have been on road courses.

Key setbacks: Montoya appeared to win the first Cup pole of his career at Kansas Speedway, but his cars shock absorbers failed inspection, and he was forced to start the race from 42nd. Also, good finishes at the second Talladega race (he led nine laps), Charlotte, Atlanta (he ran in the top 10) and Texas were thwarted by crashes.

Newsworthy moment: Montoya went through three crew chiefs in 2008. Donnie Wingo started the season as crew chief but was moved to Reed Sorenson’s team in late April. Jimmy Elledge lasted only three races with Montoya’s team before being replaced by Pattie.

In his words: “It’s like I tell the guys, ‘Yes, it’s frustrating that we’re not able to get the results that we deserve, but we’re [getting] there. I’m driving the car better than ever. I can push the car further than I ever have before, and I think that goes a long way. Knowing what I can do with a car now that I couldn’t do before, I’m comfortable in the car now. It goes a long ways. It’s exciting.”

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