By admin | October 28, 2008
By Richard Allen
Juan Pablo Montoya and Michael Waltrip each appeared to be heading for their best finishes of the season only to have everything come unraveled quickly in Atlanta.
Montoya had his Ganassi Racing Dodge running in the Top 5 late in the going of the Pep Boys Auto 500. During a caution period which came out on lap 297 the Colombian driver brought his car into the pits for fresh tires that he hoped would allow him to make a run for the win on the 1.5 mile track.
Unfortunately for Montoya, he did not leave the pit area in as good of condition as he entered. After receiving service from his crew Montoya drove back into the pit lane only to collide with the oncoming car of Clint Bowyer. The damage from that collision was significant. From that point things only got worse.
After having to come back into the pits to repair the damage from the Bowyer collision, Montoya restarted near the back of the pack. There, he found himself caught up in the race’s most serious crash of the day on lap 302. The #42 car was damaged beyond repair and Montoya was left with a disappointing 40th place finish to show for his efforts.
It has been a rough second season in NASCAR for the former Formula 1 and Indy star. He has managed only two Top 5s and three Top 10s in all of 2008. He currently ranks 24th in the overall standings.
Like Montoya, Michael Waltrip appeared to be on his way to a banner run in Atlanta. Competing in his 1,000th race(total in all 3 of NASCAR‘s divisions), the owner/driver had his car into the Top 10 for much of the first half of the event.
Then, just after halfway things took a turn for the worse. The #55 Toyota bounced off the wall and thus ruined a good day.
From that point on Waltrip struggled to maintain pace and actually caused multiple cautions as the result of the damage done to his car. He had blown tires and spins to go along with debris falling from his machine throughout the rest of the race.
What could have been a storybook type effort for this struggling team on the day of a milestone start turned into a 37th place finish. Waltrip currently sits in the 29th spot of the overall standings.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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