Nine races into the 26-event prelude to the Chase for the championship, second-year driver Juan Pablo Montoya sits 12th in points and in Chase contention for the first time since moving to NASCAR.
There's a long way to go, but his standing already represents a huge step forward for the former Formula One star, who was 20th in the final standings after his rookie season.
Don't expect him to be gushing about it just yet.
"We've been really consistent. I think that's really key for our team," Montoya said Friday.
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"Apart from the first race, pretty much every race we've had a top-20 finish."
Montoya was 32nd in the season-opener and had finished between 13th and 20th in every race since before his career-best second-place run last week at Talladega Superspeedway. But Montoya said he's still got a difficult learning curve in stock car racing, from figuring out how and when to adjust the car to make it better and communicating his needs to the team.
Those gains have to come before he'll become a consistent contender for wins, but 46 races into his NASCAR career, the former Indianapolis 500 winner is eyeing a stock car title.
"Do you think I came here for holidays?" he said.