LOUDON, N.H. (Sept. 18, 2009) — Team Target couldn’t wait to get the Championship Racing season started off on the right foot. Fresh off their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase berth, Juan Pablo Montoya and the No. 42 Target Team went out and dominated the first practice at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS). They didn’t stop there… Montoya, who went out 29th for his qualifying lap, would go on to post the time to beat at 28.545 (133.431 mph) to win his second Coors Light Pole Award for the 2009 season and his first driving the No. 42 Target Chevy in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The closest competitor, two-time Sprint Cup Series Champion Tony Stewart, would post a time of 28.545 (132.581).
Subsequently, on the opposite side of the globe, Two-Time IndyCar Series Champion and Target Teammate Scott Dixon of the No. 9 Target Team captured the Peak Anti-Freeze Pole Award for the Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi (Japan). Dixon, the 23rd and final driver to qualify, recorded a four-lap average of 202.031 mph to knock Mario Moraes from the top spot. More importantly, Dixon, who sits third in the IndyCar championship point standings, claimed the bonus point that goes to the pole winner. He’s 32 behind championship points leader Ryan Briscoe entering the next to last race of the season.
Montoya and Dixon’s teammates Martin Truex Jr. and Dario Franchitti didn’t dissapoint either. Truex and the No. 1 Rain-X Team will start 7th for Sunday’s Sylvania 300 at NHMS with a qualifying time of 28.887 (131.852 mph). While Franchitti and the No. 10 Target Team, second in the IndyCar Series championship point standings, will start 3rd at Twin Ring Motegi with a qualifying speed of 201.395 mph.
The 2009 Racing Season marks the first time in the history of Chip Ganassi Racing Team’s history that all three series (Grand-Am, NASCAR Sprint Cup, IndyCar) are represented by championship contenders. The No. 01 in the Rolex Grand-Am Series is currently second in the team points standings, just five points back. In IndyCar, Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon are currently second and third in the championship point standings, just 25 and 32 points back. Driver Juan Pablo Montoya and the No. 42 Team are currenlty 11th in the Chase standings, making history with the NASCAR operation’s first ever appearance in the «Chase for the Sprint Cup.»
HOW GOOD WAS THAT QUALIFYING RUN?
«It was really good. We really nailed the lap. Both laps were really good. In practice we were faster and I wasn’t too happy with the lap there but I really nailed the lap. I was surprised with the sun came out and I’m like oh, man, but I went out there. And everybody on the Target team is doing such an amazing job. These motors are amazing and it’s just great. Everything is running so good. It’s nice to see.
YOU WERE FAST IN PRACTICE. HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR CAR WILL BE ON SUNDAY?
«We’ll have to wait and see. It’s one of those deals where you’ve got to be patient and be smart. We did some race runs (in practice) most of the morning and we only did two qualifying runs. I think we’ll be in pretty good shape.»
WHAT’S THE LEVEL OF CONFIDENCE WITH THIS TEAM HEADING INTO THE CHASE?
«I don’t know. It’s great to see everybody on the Target team. These Chevy motors just run so good. EGR and everybody has just done such a nice job with the cars. When they’re this good they become pretty easy to drive, to be honest, and handle great.»
HOW MUCH DOES THIS BOOST YOUR CONFIDENCE KNOWING THAT YOU HAD THE FASTEST LAP IN PRACTICE AND YOU BLOW THEM AWAY IN QUALIFYING AND NOW YOU’RE SITTING ON THE POINT FOR THE RACE ON SUNDAY?
«Oh, I think it’s a big thing that you get a good pit selection. We talked about that before the weekend started. It’s nice to make a run this good. I think we’ve got great cars every week. And the tracks coming up, I think they all should be pretty good. With a little lady luck on our side, we’ll be fine.»
DO YOU THINK YOU CAN GO OUT NOW FINISHING POSITION? AND WIN RACES IN THE CHASE, OR ARE YOU STILL LOOKING AT THE TARGETED?
«I think when you get a shot at winning you’ve got to take the win, you know? Right now, you can’t give any points away, so I think that’s going to be very important. But at the same time, you’ve got to be smart. You might want to race against the 9th, but from 10th you’re not going to win the race.