By: Adam Niemeyer (FOX19 Sports)
SPEEDWAY, Ind.—Juan Pablo Montoya is used to winning at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The 2000 Indy 500 winner isn't used to winning, however, in stock cars. Last year he led 116 of the 160 laps in the Brickyard 400, but a pit road speeding penalty relegated him to an 11th place finish.
This year, if he finishes where he's starting, he'll be the Brickyard 400 champ. Montoya claimed his second pole of the season, and fourth of his short career, by running a lap of 182.278 mph, getting around the 2.5-mile rectangular shaped Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 49.375 seconds.
"It was a good lap," Montoya said. "I think in [Turn] 2, I got a little bit tight and had to brake a little bit coming off, but I don't think it was a major deal. ... Everywhere else was pretty good.
"We came here and [tire] tested, and when we got off the truck, it was good; put it in the truck, it was good -- brought it here, it was good. So I've just got to make sure to do everything right [Sunday] and see what happens."
Jimmie Johnson was second and Mark Martin was third. "I feel like we're on our way back to contention form like last year. I hope so," Martin said. He dueled with Johnson late in last year's race.
Johnson won that race, and has captured three out of the past four Brickyard 400s. "We were proud of the lap that we ran today," Johnson said. "Knew that the Ganassi guys were going to be real tough today, and to be as close as we were to Juan was a good accomplishment for us."
Chip Ganassi is looking to become the first owner to win the Daytona 500, Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400 in the same season. He's got the man sitting on the pole, and Jamie McMurray, in another Ganassi-owned machine, qualified fourth.
"It is a pretty special thing to come back here each year where my career got a jump start. I like coming here and the fans and track owners are great. It is one of the places in the country you can go where you are well respected by the community," Ganassi said.
Ganassi understands that it will be a tough road tomorrow, but he's confident in McMurray and Montoya.
"It was a good performance by the team and the driver. We tested and practiced well here, and to be honest if we weren't up near the front today, I would have been pretty disappointed. But there are still a lot of things to be done. This is just one step in a steep flight of stairs."