Newman brought to NASCAR hauler after late wreck

Updated: November 19, 2006, 9:27 PM ET
By K. Lee Davis | ESPN.com

HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Juan Pablo Montoya learned a lot in his first Nextel Cup start. Ryan Newman learned NASCAR is always watching, especially if you mess with one of the sport's anointed future stars.

Montoya ran as high as 13th at the Ford 400, got a Lucky Dog pass back onto the lead lap and had a solid run for most of the day. It was light contact with Newman on Lap 248 that ultimately ended his day. Montoya came down the track in Turn 4 and turned Newman, who spun toward the infield.

The two found each other again on Lap 253 when Newman bumped Montoya at the end of the front straightaway, sending the Colombian's Dodge Charger hard into the wall rear-end first.

Montoya scrambled out of the flaming hulk in short order. He placed 34th.

"I really don't know what happened," Montoya said. "I think the 12 [Newman] got me in the back, but I'm not sure which car got me."

Newman was invited to the NASCAR hauler, where he said he explained to officials that the accident with Montoya was not intentional.

And the winner is

Mike Hampton, the major league pitcher and Florida resident, won NASCAR's celebrity Chase Tracker game, correctly identifying the final position of four drivers in the Chase -- including Johnson.

Hampton, a pitcher for the Atlanta Braves, entered the season finale in fifth place out of 20 Chase Tracker celebrities, but accumulated 55 points to pass former Green Bay Packer Aaron Taylor for the win, 138-136.

San Diego Padres pitcher Jake Peavy was leading the standings heading into Homestead, but only picked two drivers' final positions in the standings and finished fifth with 121 points.

New York Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon finished last with 17 points.

Rookies do well

Martin Truex Jr. pulled off his best finish in a Nextel Cup car at the Ford 400, finishing second. He was able to score six top-15s over the final nine races of the season, beginning with a sixth-place finish at Dover.

"We figured out a lot of things throughout the season and that was just about the time we started putting them all together," Truex said.

Denny Hamlin, who long ago sewed up Raybestos Rookie of the Year honors, came in third at Homestead and more importantly finished third in the Chase, 68 points behind champion Jimmie Johnson.

That third-place finish in the standings won him a bet he jokingly made with Tony Stewart earlier in the year. Stewart finished fourth in the standings in his rookie season, so Hamlin did him one better.

So what does Hamlin get?

"Well, just a handshake, really," Hamlin said. "We really didn't bet anything."

Ford tough to beat at Homestead

They don't call it Ford Championship Weekend for nothing, apparently.

Greg Biffle's victory in Sunday's Ford 400 capped off a near-perfect weekend for the manufacturer.

Matt Kenseth was an easy winner in a Ford Fusion in Saturday's Ford 300 Busch race with Mark Martin taking home the Craftsman Truck victory Friday night in the Ford 200 in a Ford F-150.

Rough roads

Bobby Labonte's late-season resurgence came to a quick end when he made contact with Kurt Busch on the eighth lap and needed repairs in the garage that only allowed him to complete 83 laps. He finished 41st.

It was an all-around brutal day for the Busch brothers as Kyle Busch led early but got loose on Lap 117 trying to pass Tony Stewart and smacked the wall hard, he ended up 38th.

"I just got loose going into Turn 1," he said. "… I slapped the wall, it hurt the front end and must have broken the brake rotor because I went in [to the pits] the next around and just had no brakes."

"… The No. 8 [of Dale Earnhardt Jr.] got by the No. 20 [Stewart] pretty easily there -- he let him go -- but when I got to the No. 20, he must be mad at me for last week -- talking bad about him -- but whatever. Daytona 500, 2007, here we come."

K. Lee Davis is the motorsports editor for ESPN.com.