WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. — Juan Pablo Montoya prefers running up front, and it grates on him when he doesn’t.
For the second consecutive week, he has no reason to beat himself up going into the race.
Montoya shattered the Sprint Cup qualifying record at Watkins Glen International on Saturday. Montoya won the pole for Sunday’s Finger Lakes 355 with a lap around the 11-turn, 2.45-mile layout in 69.438 seconds at 127.020 mph.
Kyle Busch set the track record of 69.767 seconds at 126.421 mph a year ago.
“All my life I’ve raced to win,” Montoya said after notching his second consecutive pole in the series and ninth of his career. “The last couple of years have been really frustrating.”
Busch qualified second, also eclipsing the track record. Five-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson was third, followed by Brad Keselowski and Marcos Ambrose.
Ryan Newman, five-time Watkins Glen winner Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Truex Jr. and Jamie McMurray rounded out the top 10.
Points leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. qualified 16th.
Denny Hamlin and Jeff Burton were in backup cars after wrecking their primary rides in practice on Friday, victims of a track made slippery by Patrick Long’s blown engine. Hamlin was 23rd and Burton 31st.
Montoya won the pole last week at Pocono and finished 20th. He has only two top-10 finishes this season and three DNFs, one of the main reasons he’s 21st in the points.
Still, he isn’t about to concede with five races remaining before the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
“The only thing you can do is make sure you’re working the hardest you can,” said Montoya, whose two Cup victories have come on the road courses at Sonoma and Watkins Glen. “Maybe we still don’t have the fastest car, but if you can play the strategy right you might come up here with something and you might go on to Richmond (the last race before the postseason) with a chance of making the Chase. It would be shocking.”
NATIONWIDE SERIES: When push came to shove, Carl Edwards got the best of Keselowski.
Edwards, making his first Nationwide start of the season, beat Keselowski on a two-lap dash to the checkered flag on Saturday and won the Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International.
Austin Dillon’s blown right front tire brought out the final stoppage of the 82-lap race around the 11-turn, 2.45-mile layout, and Edwards beat his long-time nemesis on a restart for the second consecutive time in the race.
It was the 38th career victory for Edwards, breaking a tie with Kevin Harvick for third on the career series list.
“This is huge for us,” Edwards said after making his celebratory back flip. “This win means a lot.”
Pole-sitter Sam Hornish Jr. finished third, followed by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Ron Fellows. Despite a spirited drive from the back of the field, Kyle Busch faded late and finished sixth in his No. 54 Toyota.
Elliott Sadler finished 12th and holds a 13-point lead over Stenhouse in the standings.
Danica Patrick, who had a strong run at Road America in the first road course of the season before getting wrecked by Jacques Villeneuve and finishing 12th, didn’t even get the chance to race in her first NASCAR start at The Glen. She was taken out on the first turn of the first lap by Ryan Truex.