Monday, July 27, 2009
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Johnson grabs Indy win after late Montoya penalty

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[July 27, 2009]  INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Jimmie Johnson grabbed an improbable third victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway when a speeding penalty to Juan Pablo Montoya blew Sunday's race wide open.

Montoya led 116 laps and had a 5-second lead when he headed to pit road for a routine stop with 35 laps remaining. NASCAR flagged him for speeding on his way in, and the penalty knocked him out of contention.

"I swear on my children and my wife that I was not speeding!" he shouted over his radio. "There is no way! Thank you NASCAR for screwing my day."

Crew chief Brian Pattie begged his driver to calm down and focus on salvaging a solid points day, to no avail.

"Don't tell me to relax, dude!" Montoya yelled. "We had this in the bag."


Indeed he did, but the 2000 winner of the Indianapolis 500 was relegated to an 11th-place finish.

It opened up the race for anyone else to claim. Mark Martin restarted as the leader with 24 laps to go and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson lined up on his outside. Johnson sailed to the front and pulled away, only to have to hold off Martin over a nerve-racking final five laps.

Johnson, winner of three of the last four races at The Brickyard, became the first driver to win in consecutive years in 16 NASCAR races at Indy. It was the third win this season for the three-time defending NASCAR champion.

Martin, who at 50 became the oldest polesitter in Indy's 100 years, finished second and moved up two spots in the standings to ninth.

"I would have liked to win it," Martin said. "Just got beat by Superman."

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Current points leader Tony Stewart, a two-time Brickyard winner, was third and followed by Greg Biffle and Brian Vickers.

Kevin Harvick finished sixth and was followed by Kasey Kahne and David Reutimann. Four-time Brickyard winner Jeff Gordon was ninth and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top 10.

A cut tire caused Kyle Busch to finish 38th and drop out of contention for the Chase for the championship. The bad day cost him four spots in the standings, and he's 14th with six races left to set the 12-driver Chase field.

The tire problems that plagued last year's race were never a factor, as Goodyear made good on its promise to find the right compound for one of the biggest races of the season. Goodyear's product last year couldn't last longer than 10-to-12 laps, and the tiremaker spent 11 months diligently correcting the problem.

[Associated Press; By JENNA FRYER]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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