Montoya and McMurray at odds after wreck

BY foxsports • March 1, 2010

When Juan Pablo Montoya raced in Formula One, his teammate was often his enemy.

Jamie McMurray might not be his top adversary, but the two certainly won't be going to dinner anytime soon.

McMurray's mid-race mistake Sunday wrecked Montoya, who responded with a scathing rant against his new Earnhardt Ganassi Racing teammate.

``Jamie plain and simple just wrecked us,'' Montoya fumed at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. ``Every time I am around him, he wants to run the (crap) out of me. He is just trying to prove to people he can drive a race car and I guess he isn't doing too many favors on this team.''

McMurray, the Daytona 500 winner, took responsibility for the incident that wrecked both EGR cars and collected pole-sitter Kurt Busch. McMurray wound up 34th, while Montoya was 37th and dropped three spots in the standings to 26th.

``I just got loose underneath him,'' McMurray said. ``Certainly, anyone that you're going to try to race as clean as possible, he would be that guy. I'm sorry to him and his team. I got up in there and he turned in just a little bit earlier than I was expecting and then my car got really loose on entry.''

But McMurray shrugged off any anger Montoya spewed at his new teammate. Montoya is in his fourth season with Ganassi, while McMurray is back with Ganassi after four years at Roush Fenway Racing.

``You guys probably shouldn't put a lot of stock into what he said when you ask somebody something immediately after getting crashed,'' he said. ``They typically don't have nice things to say.''

Montoya also was frustrated at his spot in the standings. A qualifier last year for the 12-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, he lost three spots in the standings and dropped to 26th. He blew a motor last week at California.

``For the Chase, this doesn't help,'' Montoya said. ``It is painful.''

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JUNIOR's GAINS: Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s 16th-place finish wasn't very pretty considering his three Hendrick Motorsports teammates were inside the top five.

But team owner Rick Hendrick was pleased with the progress from the No. 88 team, which is currently 15th in the standings.

``We had a couple of bobbles in the pits with the pit crew,'' Hendrick said. ``It seems like every time the car is good, the pit crew screws up. If the pit crew is on, the car, something break. So I feel they've made a ton of improvement. I think we're going to have a really good year. I'm looking forward to Atlanta.''

Earnhardt is coming off a horrendous 2009 season that saw him go winless and finish 25th in the final standings. Hendrick made an offseason commitment to get Earnhardt on pace with the other HMS cars, and Hendrick doesn't think the early results are indicative of how much progress has been made.

Earnhardt broke an axle last week at California and finished 32nd.

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START AND PARK POLICE: NASCAR is apparently keeping an eye on teams who enter races with no intention of trying to finish the events.

The practice, which is called ``start-and-park,'' has teams going to the track prepared well enough to qualify for the 43-car field. But the driver then pulls off the track shortly after the start of the race because the owner doesn't want to pay for tires or a pit crew.

NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said Sunday that the sanctioning body will now inspect the first car that drops out of the race and wasn't involved in an accident. It should force teams to attempt to run as many laps as possible to avoid NASCAR inspecting its motor.

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LOGANO LOOKS GOOD: Joey Logano had his third straight solid run of his sophomore season, finishing sixth Sunday.

He's eighth in the Sprint Cup standings, and the highest ranked Joe Gibbs Racing driver. After struggling out of the gate in his rookie season, Logano now has two top-10s and a low finish of 20th in the season-opening Daytona 500.

``Another great run,'' he said. ``I'm excited about that. To have two great runs like that, it's exciting coming into the season.''

But he's got cautious optimism as he heads into Atlanta, home of sponsor Home Depot.

``Next week will probably be a tough one,'' he said. ``Atlanta is one where we struggled a lot last year. If we run good there, that's going to really say something to me. I expected to run really good here, especially after last weekend.''


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