Juan Pablo Montoya came up just three laps short of securing his first NASCAR victory on an oval in the FedEx 400 at Dover International Speedway.
After jumping to the top of the leaderboard following a fast two-tire pit stop during the day's final caution period, Montoya was lined up in the outside groove alongside Jimmie Johnson with 20 laps remaining.
And when Johnson jumped the restart and was subsequently penalized by NASCAR, the lead was handed back to Montoya. But a hard-charging Tony Stewart soon caught the No. 42 car and, though it took a few laps, he soon was able to pass Montoya on the outside and go on for the win.
"It's a shame, you know, there at the end, it was way too loose and I just couldn't hold Tony off," Montoya said.
"The car was a little bit too much of a handful there at the end ... Taking two really hurt us, but we had to for the track position. It's one of those deals."
Dover represented the fourth time Montoya has finished runner-up in a Cup race with his other second-place finishes coming at Indianapolis, Talladega and Pocono. His two victories have occurred on the series' two road course events, Sonoma and Watkins Glen.
The past two years have been a struggle for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, and the team has made numerous changes in an effort to increase performance. Although it has taken some time, the organization has appeared to have turned a corner.
Montoya had a near win at Richmond in May. It was a similar situation to Dover, where he was leading with four laps to go before a green-white-checkered shuffled him back to fourth in the final rundown.
The recent surge has Montoya feeling optimistic.
"We got two top fives in about a month," Montoya said. "Wins, I think they are coming. I've said this before: You have got to start running in the top‑five, top‑10 to be able to get wins, to give yourself a shot.
"It took a little bit of time, but now I think we are clicking really well and you know, we have been getting good results every week that it's awesome."