Disappointed? Not Juan Pablo Montoya.

Despite finishes of third, fourth, fourth and third in the first four races in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Montoya is third in the standings, 58 points behind three-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson.

Montoya seems neither perturbed nor disappointed by his inability to gain ground in the standings, despite his succession of top fives.

"Remember, when we started the Chase, I was 40 points behind already," said Montoya, who has not won a race this season, compared with four regular-season victories for Mark Martin. "So against the #5 car (Martin), I should have been like four points (behind)."

Montoya actually trails Martin by six more points -- 46 -- after four Chase races. Martin finished fourth Sunday and was replaced atop the standings by Johnson. Martin, who won the first Chase race, trails Johnson by twelve points. Montoya is the only driver with top fives in all four Chase races.

"We're getting close to our first win," Montoya said. "We know it's going to happen. But I think that's why we fell behind in the Chase.

"If you ask me -- ask anybody, ask yourself -- did you think we were going to be this competitive when the Chase started? No. We just wanted to make the Chase. And we played our strategy to make the Chase."

Of the top four finishers in Sunday's Pepsi 500 at Auto Club Speedway, Montoya was the only driver not employed by Hendrick Motorsports. Johnson won the race, followed by Jeff Gordon. Martin's fourth place was his third top five of the Chase.

"We're doing our best," Montoya said. "We're enjoying ourselves, and we're racing hard. We've got great racecars, you know. There were four or five Hendrick cars and us racing today in the front. So to be able to do that is huge."

by Reid Spencer/Sporting News


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