After a 38th-place finish at Charlotte, Montoya is 20th in the Cup standings and is 206 points behind
You can argue that next to
To be fair, it's not as if JPM hasn't completely lived up to the precedent he set last season; his four top-5s are tied for seventh-best in the series and he's been fast, with an average start of 14.2, which is among Cup's top 11 drivers. But the good just can't outweigh the bad; Charlotte marked Montoya's seventh finish of 26th or worse, which includes four DNFs.
Before we start discounting Montoya's chances of salvaging his season, it is worth noting that a year ago, he rattled off nine top 10s in a span of 14 races to vault from 15th to a Chase spot. But doing it for a second straight year? That would be nothing short of miraculous considering that consistency -- and some mechanical troubles at Fontana and Dover -- has been Montoya's biggest nemesis, which has only been compounded when you look at what teammate
Last season, Montoya publicly maintained he would follow a simple path set out by
Can letting Montoya loose salvage his season or will it simply add to what's been one of this year's most disappointing storylines? It may be too late for JPM, whose year looks, to borrow from the windsurfing vernacular, skunked.
2. While we're on the subject of the Chase, which driver could be this year's
He's been showing steady improvement in his second season, posting five top-5s, increasing his year-over-year finish in eight of the first 13 races and he's staying on the track, completing all but 44 laps so far. But maybe most importantly, he's also behind the wheel of the same equipment that has turned