PHOENIX RECORD: Two top-10 finishes in 11 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Like his teammate Jamie McMurray, Montoya is bringing a “brand new Target Chevy to Phoenix so I’m looking forward to this race. The guys have done a lot of work back at the shop and our cars keep improving every week. We’re experimenting in hopes of finding a little extra something that will give us a competitive edge heading into next season.”
LOOKING BACK: On the second restart of the day, the line Montoya was in got jammed up big time with Montoya suffering major damage to the front end of his car. This resulted in a long stay in the garage area for repairs. Montoya returned to the track and finished 34th. “We had a decent car and they all checked up on the restart…you see the leader go and we normally go and they all checked up and got on their brakes. The crazy thing is we were not even up to speed yet.”
ETC.: It has been a long, long year for Montoya. He has earned only two top-10 finishes in the first 34 races. A year ago, Montoya finished the season with eight top-10 finishes and it was declared a “bad year” by car owner Chip Ganassi. Unless Montoya can finish in the top 10 in one of the last two races he will end the season with the fewest number of top-10s in his career.
78 KURT BUSCH, Chevrolet
Team: Furniture Row Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 25th, 384 points out of 13th place.
PHOENIX RECORD: One win and 10 top-10 finishes in 19 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: “Everyone at Furniture Row Racing is excited about how the team is taking shape after being together for only four races,” said Busch. “We tested at the Phoenix track a few weeks ago and I look forward to another solid performance in our Chevrolet.”
LOOKING BACK: In his fourth start with Furniture Row Racing, Busch earned his first top-10 finish with the team as he ended the race in eighth place. “All in all a good day for Furniture Row Racing,” said Busch. “Considering that we had a top-five or top-10 car at the last two races but got nailed in accidents, it was important to come away with a solid finish today. We’ve made a lot of progress as a team in a short period of time, which gives us plenty of optimism for 2013.”
ETC.: Busch, who has been a frequent visitor to the Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., feels “visiting our injured troops has had a huge impact on me. There is so much to learn from the mental anguish that our troops go through to the mental toughness during their recovery. You want to be there to give your time, your support and tell our men and women in uniform how much you appreciate their service and sacrifices to our country.”
55 MARK MARTIN, Toyota
Team: Michael Waltrip Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: 26th, 410 points out of 13th place.
PHOENIX RECORD: Won the pole for the March race and finished ninth. Has two wins and 20 top-10 finishes including 12 top-five’s in 31 starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Martin is tied for seventh on the all-time list of pole winners in NASCAR history. He is also tied with Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson for the most poles won in 2012 – four. “Maybe we can get another won before the year is over,” said Martin, who won the pole for the Phoenix race back in March. “But what we want most is a win for these guys on the 55 car. They deserve one as they have given me great cars all season.”
LOOKING BACK: Martin bounced back from severe front-end damage to challenge for a top-15 finish when he and Carl Edwards got together with only three laps remaining. The contact sent Martin spinning and ended his night in 29th place. “That was a tough day for us,” said Martin. “Guys were slamming on brakes coming to pit lane and I got into the back of another car. We struggled with the handling after that but there at the end I got better. Carl just got into us and ended our race.”
ETC.: Last week the 55 team made a stop in Batesville, Ark., to visit the Mark Martin Museum at his car dealership. “This is an amazing place,” said Mike McCarville, the team’s shock specialist. “There’s so much history of the sport here. To look at these cars and equipment and to see all the pictures shows you how far the sport has come and how much things have changed.”
22 SAM HORNISH, JR., Dodge
Team: Penske Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: His team stands 21st in the car owner point standings.
PHOENIX RECORD: One top-10 finish in seven starts.
LOOKING AHEAD: Hornish scored his first major NASCAR victory at Phoenix a year ago in the Nationwide Series, and for that reason he has high hopes about his first time back in a Cup car in two years. “With the success we’ve had there in the Nationwide Series cars since they changed the track, it’s easy to understand how much we are looking forward to getting back in a Cup car,” said Hornish. “Phoenix has certainly held a lot of history as far as my career goes. Wouldn’t that be icing on the cake if we can pull it off and get the Shell-Pennzoil Dodge into victory lane there Sunday afternoon.”
LOOKING BACK: Hornish finished 17th at Texas. “Just a tough night,” said Hornish. “We didn’t have the consistent race car that we needed. Our Dodge was good at times, but we just couldn’t make it consistent like we needed. On the last restart, I was held down really tight by the 20 (Joey Logano) and got really loose. When I finally caught the car, I hit (the wall) with the right-front fender and bent that back which took away a lot of speed on the last few laps.”
ETC.: The team and Pennzoil will give away three retro-fitted Dodge vehicles to three paralyzed veterans this Sunday at Phoenix. The three veterans were selected from hundreds that were part of “The Long Love Car” contest than ran from April to September and was open to any veteran with disabilities, their caregiver or spouse. Each will receive a vehicle of their choosing, retro-fitted to their specific needs.