June 24, 2007 - Sonoma, CA - Veteran road racer Juan Pablo Montoya won his first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series (NNCS) race in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway, topping a host of road racing ringers in the process. Montoya passed Jamie McMurray five laps from the finish while conserving fuel as several of those chasing him ran out of gas.
P. J. Jones was the top finishing Toyota driver, coming home 12th, the best finish yet for the No. 00 car. Jones, one of the road racing ringers, was driving the Burger King Camry normally piloted by David Reutimann, who ran the Busch race Saturday night in Milwaukee. Jones' Michael Waltrip Racing team used pit stop strategy to move him to the front in the early going and he ran in the Top 20 for much of the event, including 14 laps in the Top 10.
"Our pit strategy played out perfectly and we were able to save fuel," Jones said. "The motor was awesome. The team was awesome and I'm proud of these guys."
Six Toyota Camrys started Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway, the most Toyotas to start a NEXTEL Cup race this season. Dale Jarrett was the fastest in qualifying and brought his Camry home 26th, on the same lap as the leader, despite being spun out halfway through the event.
"We just struggled all day," Jarrett said. "It was the same thing all weekend. We just couldn't get any forward bite and just couldn't get it off the corners. We weren't very good (on the road course). We have some work to do in that area."
Road race veteran Butch Leitzinger, running a second Caterpillar Camry for Bill Davis Racing, finished 28th, also on the same lap as the winner. Teammate Dave Blaney struggled with electrical problems and changed a battery midway through, finishing 41st. Other Camry finishers included Terry Labonte, 35th in the NAPA Camry normally driven by Michael Waltrip and Marc Goossens, 36th, running his first NEXTEL Cup race for Riley-D'Hondt Motorsports, which is running a limited Car of Tomorrow schedule.
In other weekend NASCAR action at the Milwaukee Mile, Johnny Benson put his Tundra in victory circle in the Craftsman Truck Series race on Friday night for his first win of the season. In the Busch series race Saturday evening in Milwaukee, Jason Leffler was in a three-wide battle for the lead with less than 10 laps left before finishing third, as all three Camrys in the race finished in the Top 10.
In the Toyota Tundra Milwaukee 200 at The Milwaukee Mile, Benson dominated much of the race in his Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Tundra and took the lead for good just past the halfway point. But he was forced to hold off the held of the Silverado of Ron Hornaday, Jr., considered the master of the restart, when the green flag came out following a caution with just four laps left. Hornaday finished second, followed by Todd Bodine in his Lumber Liquidators Tundra in third. Pole sitter Mike Skinner finished fourth in his Tundra and Rick Crawford in a Ford rounded out the Top five. Skinner continues to lead the truck point series as he has finished in the Top five in nine of the 11 races run so far this year.
"I know he's (Hornaday) pretty good on those restarts, but I don't think I'm horrible either," Benson said afterwards. "I knew as long as he wasn't beside me going into turn one, I was going to be fine. Ron did everything he could, but our Tundra was pretty good. It was a great day."
In the Busch race Saturday in Milwaukee, the AT&T 250, Leffler's Great Clips Camry started second and battled with the Chevrolets of Denny Hamlin and Scott Wimmer late in the race before Hamlin emerged as the winner, with Wimmer second. It was an "unofficial" win for Hamlin, who arrived late for the race after practicing in Sonoma for Sunday's Cup event. His helicopter was unable to land at the track and he was forced to return to the airport and drive into the track. By the time he arrived, the race was already underway and he had to wait until a caution flag to replace Aric Almirola, who had started the car in his place. As Almirola started the car, he'll go down in the records as the winner.
"I didn't have anything for him," Leffler said of his battle with Hamlin. "I had something for him for two laps and had to beat him up there on the restart. Denny (Hamlin) set us up like a couple of bowling pins and went right by us both. I knew that was coming when we were going down the back straightaway -- I could see it. It's all good though. It was a good run for us."
Todd Bodine, filling in for Dave Blaney who elected to stay in California for the Cup race, brought the Camping World RVs.com Camry home in sixth place, despite being nabbed for speeding on pit road. David Reutimann in the Aaron's Dream Machine Camry finished seventh.
NEXTEL Cup and Busch series competitors now travel cross country to New Hampshire International Speedway for races on Saturday, June 30 and Sunday, July 1. The Busch series will run in the Camping World 200 presented by RVs.com on Saturday, followed by the Cup action in the Lenox Industrial Tools 300. Next stop for the NCTS is the Memphis Motorsports Park, where they'll run the O'Reilly 200 on Saturday, June 30.
Toyota NNCS Finishing Positions at Infineon Raceway 12th, P. J. JONES 26th, DALE JARRETT 28th, BUTCH LEITZINGER 35th, TERRY LABONTE 36th, MARC GOOSSENS 41st, DAVE BLANEY Toyota Drivers in the NNCS Point Standings following Infineon Raceway ** 37th, DAVE BLANEY 1022 Points 39th, BRIAN VICKERS 823 Points 40th, DALE JARRETT 753 Points 41st, DAVID REUTIMANN 655 Points 44th, AJ ALLMENDINGER 464 Points 48th, JEREMY MAYFIELD 345 Points 51st, MICHAEL WALTRIP 191 Points 54th, P.J. JONES 127 Points **Unofficial Point Standings Toyota NBS Finishing Positions at The Milwaukee Mile 3rd, JASON LEFFLER 6th, TODD BODINE 7th, DAVID REUTIMANN Toyota Drivers in the NBS Point Standings following the Milwaukee Mile** 2nd, DAVID REUTIMANN 1910 Points 4th, DAVE BLANEY 1833 Points 6th, JASON LEFFLER 1768 Points 65th, DAVID GREEN 294 Points **Unofficial Point Standings Toyota NCTS Finishing Positions at The Milwaukee Mile 1st, JOHNNY BENSON 3rd, TOD BODINE 4th, MIKE SKINNER 11th, JACK SPRAGUE 13th, TERRY COOK 21st, AARON FIKE 14th, RYAN MATHEWS 17th, AARON FIKE 29th, JOSH WISE 34th, TED MUSGRAVE Toyota Drivers in the NCTS Point Standings following The Milwaukee Mile** 1st, MIKE SKINNER 1878 points 3rd, TODD BODINE 1673 points 6th, TED MUSGRAVE 1481 points 7th, JOHNNY BENSON 1454 points 8th, JACK SPRAGUE 1335 points 9th, AARON FIKE 1332 points 11th, TERRY COOK 1293 points 26th, AJ ALLMENDINGER 1123 points 31st, RYAN MATTHEWS 563 points 38th, JOSH WISE 312 points **Unofficial Point Standings
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