Juan Pablo Montoya is hoping for an end to his run of bad results, as he languishes in 25th place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings after the first six races.
The Earnhardt Ganassi racer has shown speed through the start of his fourth season in NASCAR, but technical issues and incidents have cost him points. Montoya was among the title contenders last year when he was one of 12 drivers in contention for the title during the Chase. He admits his poor results have hit him hard in the points.
"For us, at this point, we want to start finishing some races," said Montoya at Phoenix today. "We have been having such bad luck that it is hard. Out of six races we have had four pretty much DNF – 30-something place finishes. It makes it hard for points. We have fast race cars every week and we should be good here."
Montoya has led four of the first six races of the year, and finished third at Atlanta, but an engine failure at California, contact with his team-mate Jaime McMurray at Las Vegas, a multi-car pileup at Bristol and a tire failure at Marstinville have left him already 171 points away from 12th place in the standings. He expects his string of bad results could finally come to an end this weekend at Phoenix, where he will be starting from seventh place on the grid, as he believes his team's performance has shown it deserves much better.
"We are a top-five team, easily," Montoya said. "We run in the top five every week. We're there. Always one of the fastest cars in practice, qualifying even at race pace. But, we had blown tires last week, the week before, something else happened, they wrecked in front of us. The week before we had a good week.
"There is always something. Blown motors. Everything that can go wrong has gone wrong so far. Hopefully it will change a little in the next few weeks."
The former Formula 1 star believes neither his team nor he have made any costly mistakes and reckons that issues out of their control are to blame for their misfortunes thus far. Although he says it is still early to panic about being left out of this year's Chase for the title, he admits he cannot afford any more bad races.
"I think it is going to get to a point you either know you are in it or you are out of it," said Montoya. "You take it race by race, score as many points as you can and see what happens. It is completely out of our control. We come here and they wreck and we have nowhere to go.
"We haven't really made a mistake ourselves to say, 'This one is on us,' yet. I don't feel we have. It can happen and that would really set us even further back."
Montoya's teammate McMurray won the season-opening Daytona 500 but similar results to Montoya subsequently have dropped him to 19th place in the standings.