NASCAR unveiled the Chase For the Sprint Cup Championship in 2004. The 2004 NASCAR Championship wasn’t decided until the last lap at Homestead-Miami Speedway when Kurt Busch became the first to hoist the “Chase” hardware. Busch, the 2004 Sprint Cup Series Champion, dominated a wild and rough road-course showdown at Infineon on Sunday. Busch led a race-high 76 laps and beat four-time Sprint Cup Champion Jeff Gordon by almost 4 seconds for his first NASCAR Sprint Cup win of the season, and first in 21 road-course starts. Reigning Ford 400 winner at Homestead-Miami Speedway and current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship leader Carl Edwards finished third; and maintains the series point lead by 25 over Kevin Harvick in the NASCAR Race to the Chase standings with 16 races of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season in the record books.
Below is how our South Florida drivers fared in this past weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event:
Juan Pablo Montoya No. 42 Target Chevrolet Miami resident
16th in points
22nd PLACE FINISH: The Earnhardt Ganassi Racing driver had a busy day in California. After starting 17th, Montoya —a former winner at Sonoma — tangled with a handful of drivers in the final laps during a mad dash to try to salvage a Top 10 result. He finished 22nd after being spun by Brad Keselowski on Lap 104 0f 110.
“The No. 2 [Keselowski], I got on his bumper moved him a little bit, got beside him and passed him and he just plain and simple wrecked us. It’s hard when people don’t know how to race on road courses and think they do.”
Brian Vickers No. 83 Red Bull Toyota Ft. Lauderdale resident
26th in points
10th PLACE FINISH: Despite a strong 10th place qualifying effort, Vickers brought home a 36th place finish after a couple of on-track incidents with two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Tony Stewart. It began on Lap 37 when Vickers was going into Turn 11. Stewart locked onto Vickers’ rear bumper, causing a spin that eventually involved six cars and set the tone for what would happen later in the day. As he and Stewart approached Turn 11 again on Lap 87, Vickers allowed the No. 14 to pass then sent Stewart barreling into the tires along the outside of the turn.
“You know, he wrecked me – and I wrecked him back. It’s unfortunate. He made his bed at that moment, and he had to sleep in it.”
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Driver Leaders:
1 – Carl Edwards 573
2 – Kevin Harvick 548
3 – Jimmie Johnson 540
7 – Kurt Busch 539
4 – Kyle Busch 536
5 – Matt Kenseth 521
6 – Dale Earnhardt Jr. 508
8 – Clint Bowyer 496
9 – Jeff Gordon 480
10 – Ryan Newman 475
11 – Denny Hamlin 463
12 – Tony Stewart 460
After Race 26, the Top 10 drivers plus two wild cards not in the Top 10 who score the highest number of victories will contend for NASCAR’s Chase For The Sprint Cup Championship “playoff” system—the winner of which will be crowned at Homestead-Miami Speedway during Ford Championship Weekend for a 10th consecutive season this fall. Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 18-20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW.
Next up for the Sprint Cup drivers is Daytona on Saturday, July 2 (6:30 EDT, MRN, TNT).