NASCAR & Auto Racing

Montoya racking up extra rookie money

NASCAR’s Juan Pablo Montoya is $25,000 richer, thanks to some good finishes at the right races.

Raybestos, which normally pays $1,500 to the top rookie at each Nextel Cup race, increases that amount to $5,000 at seven designated events throughout the 2007 season.

Montoya wound up taking top rookie honors at five of them, including Las Vegas, Darlington, Infineon, Chicagoland and last Saturday night at Bristol.

Overall, his 17th-place finish at the Tennessee track was the 11th time this season the former open-wheel star from Colombia has been the top rookie in a Cup race. Montoya leads David Ragan by 25 points, 216-191, in the rookie standings heading into Sunday’s race at California Speedway.

Montoya is 18th in the season standings, also the best of any first-year driver.