News & Media

Montoya edges Smith for pole at Richmond

April 29, 2011, Sporting News Wire Service,

RICHMOND, Va. -- Juan Montoya posted the only sub-21-second lap during Friday's time trials for Saturday night's Crown Royal Presents 400 to claim the seventh pole of his Sprint Cup career.


Race Lineup
2.R. Smith 128.382 21.031
3.C. Bowyer 128.272 21.049
4.K. Kahne 128.150 21.069
5.M. Martin 128.053 21.085

Montoya toured three-quarter-mile Richmond International Raceway in 20.989 seconds (128.639 mph) to earn his second Coors Light Pole Award of the season and edge Regan Smith (128.382) for the top spot in Saturday's race, the ninth event on the Cup schedule.

The front-row starting spot was Smith's best ever, and it lowered his series-best qualifying average to 7.1.

Clint Bowyer qualified third at 128.272 mph, followed by Kasey Kahne (128.150) and Mark Martin (128.053). Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski, points leader Carl Edwards, Joey Logano and Paul Menard will start from positions 6-10, respectively.

Montoya improved his speed during the second of two Friday practice sessions and backed it up with his qualifying effort.

"It was good, and I'm really happy," said Montoya, who has won on the road courses at Sonoma and Watkins Glen but is still seeking his first Cup victory on an oval track. "We were faster in second practice, and we matched it in qualifying, and I'm pretty excited about it, to be honest."

Under NASCAR's new qualifying format, drivers locked into the field go out in positions 1-35 in inverse order of practice speeds. Smith was the 30th driver to make an attempt. Montoya went out 34th.

"That's the tough part about this new procedure -- you always know that there are faster cars coming, unless you are one of the last cars to go," Smith said. "It doesn't take away from the great car we have got ... a great job by these guys on the Furniture Row Chevrolet. Qualifying has been great. We really wanted to get a pole.

"I wanted to get that out of the way and then we can start getting those top-10s and top-fives and all the other stuff."

Defending race winner Kyle Busch qualified 20th, Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin 11th and five-time defending Cup champion Jimmie Johnson 30th. Bowyer, Johnson, Hamlin and Busch have combined to win the past eight races at Richmond.


• Juan Montoya earned his seventh career pole in his 154th start.
• Richmond marks the second pole of 2011 (California) for Juan Montoya.
• Juan Montoya started second at Richmond in the fall race in 2010, his previous best start at the track.
• Regan Smith (second) earned a career best starting position for his 104th race; Smith has started in the top 10 in seven of nine races in 2011.
• Clint Bowyer (third) matches his best start of the season and earns his third consecutive top 10 start.
• Kasey Kahne (fourth) earned his best Richmond start since winning from the pole in May 2005.

Brian Keselowski, returning to the track after gall bladder surgery, failed to qualify for the 43-car field.