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Juan Pablo Montoya wins pole for NASCAR race in Fontana

March 25, 2011 |  6:54 pm

Juan Pablo Montoya, the former open-wheel racing star who's still looking for his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win on an oval track, won the pole position Friday for the Auto Club 400 in Fontana on Sunday. 

MontoyaMontoya, who drives the No. 42 Chevrolet for the team of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, turned a lap of 184.653 mph on the two-mile Auto Club Speedway oval to win the top spot in the 43-car field.

Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing qualified second at 184.270 mph and will start next to Montoya on the front row.

Since moving to stock-car racing in 2007, Montoya has two wins in the Cup series -- both of which came on curvy road courses. But he has yet to win on an oval speedway.

Hamlin teammate Kyle Busch, who was forced to use his back-up Toyota in qualifying after crashing his primary car in practice earlier in the day, qualified eighth.

Defending race winner and reigning champion Jimmie Johnson qualified 16th, Carl Edwards was 18th and Dale Earnhardt Jr. qualified 30th in the 43-car field.


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--Jim Peltz

Photo: NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya during practice Friday at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Credit: Robert Laberge / Getty Images