The Lugnut Report: Juan Pablo Montoya Comes Home Third in Atlanta

Coming into Atlanta Motor Speedway, one didn't hear much talk about how this has been one of Juan Pablo Montoya's best tracks since coming to NASCAR in 2007.

No, most of the talk was about the incident between Montoya and his Earnhardt Ganassi teammate Jamie McMurray.

"Don't worry, it happened, yes I was real mad, but let's move foward," Montoya said after the Daytona 500 champion texted him during the week.

Montoya and company were more and ready to put the skuffle behind them.

The No. 42 Target Chevrolet ended the first practice of the weekend in fifth and would qualify third. His later practice sessions wouldn't prove as fruitful, ending them 16th and 32nd, respectively.

Taking the green flag for the Kobalt Tools 500, no one still would stop talking about whether he and McMurray had really buried the hatchet.

Montoya spend nearly all day running up front, spending the first 13 laps running behind Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne and polesitter Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Despite his constant hard charges to the front, it was the lap 164 that would propel him to finally collect his five bonus points and take the lead.

Threading the needle, Montoya zipped by then leader Denny Hamlin on lap 172, but three laps later a fast Kahne took the lead three laps later.

Kahne and Kurt Busch were the class of the field all day long, and proved too much for the No. 42, and everyone else. Still, Montoya was able to stay with

As the laps in regulation continued to go down, Montoya was charging toward the Miller Lite Dodge, consistently gaining two tenths on Busch.

The ninth caution of the day came out when Carl Edwards, who was 156 laps down at the time, sent Brad Keselowski into the wall.

Despite having two more chances to go after Busch, Montoya wasn't able to catch him after spinning his tires and ended his day where he started it, in third.

With the effort JPM jumps five spots in the points standings to 21st. In two weeks, things are set to get even crazier as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rolls into Bristol Motor Speedway for the Food City 500. The race will be live on FOX at one p.m. Eastern time.

For Patti Rodisch's recap on the weekend Elliott Sadler had, click here.

Thanks to ESPN, NASCAR on FOX, Yahoo!,, Jayski and Racing Reference for the information and quotes used in this article.
The Lugnut Report: Juan Pablo Montoya Comes Home Third in Atlanta The Lugnut Report: Juan Pablo Montoya Comes Home Third in Atlanta Reviewed by Jen Preston on Sunday, March 07, 2010 Rating: 5