On The Edge: The Fight For 35th in Nextel Cup Owner Points · Amy Henderson · Sunday June 4, 2006
Dover International Speedway was full of surprises Sunday. Dishing out just three yellow flags in the first 260 laps, the track served up six more in the final 140. Sadly, for those trying to make – or stay in – the Top 35, Dover was a rough ride for all involved. None of the drivers and teams in this important owner points battle were able to put together a make-or-break type of run to the front, and that’s a shame, because with everyone having problems one Top 15 run could have been a huge gain for anybody knocking on the door of the Top 35.
Jeremy Mayfield had the best run among the teams fighting to keep their starting spots. Mayfield qualified on the outside pole and finished on the lead lap in eighteenth position, easily good enough for his No. 19 team to hang onto 35th in owner points in what was a lackluster race for the teams sharing his position. Now 167 points ahead of Scott Wimmer’s Morgan-McClure team in 36th, Mayfield’s team is assured a spot in the Top 35 beyond Pocono as long as the team attempts the race.
Dave Blaney moved one spot further from the bubble this week, moving up a spot to 33rd following his 30th place run at Dover. Blaney is a driver capable of consistency but hampered by poor equipment; so the move, even though he only holds the spot by 2 points, is an important one.
Meanwhile, Travis Kvapil and his No. 32 team made a small gain with his 29th place finish, tying Michael Waltrip for 37th in owner points. However, while Kvapil’s PPI Motorsports team has come a long way after missing two races early in the year, they remain 182 points out of 35th.
BAM Racing saw their day go up in smoke along with Kevin Lepage’s engine. Lepage has been consistent, if not spectacular, in that equipment, but the Engine Gremlin bit him this week, keeping the team outside the Top 40 in owner points, over 400 out of 35th.
Scott Wimmer looked early on like he might be gearing up for a good day. A gentleman’s agreement with the No. 48 team – with whom Wimmer’s team was sharing a pit stall for the first half – ensured that the car in the higher position at a caution would pit first – and at the first caution, that was Wimmer. The 48 crew pitted both cars until the Morgan-McClure Motorsports team got a vacated box – which should have been an advantage for the No.4 car. However, on a subsequent stop, the 48 held the advantage, and the extra laps waiting to pit cost Wimmer immensely as his car ran out of fuel, effectively ending their chance for a big gain in the points. A disappointed Wimmer came across the line 34th.
On The Bubble
|Pos||Owner||Car #||Points||Points from 36th||Points behind next position|
On the Outside Looking In
|Pos||Owner||Car #||Points||Points from 35th||Points behind next position|
|41||Beth Ann Morgenthau||49||634||-453||-26|
With Pocono next week, one of the smaller fields of the year is expected, making it a little easier for some of those on the outside looking in to qualify for the race. Still, if the teams outside the Top 35 can’t begin to take advantage of the races they do make by grabbing solid finishes, they can kiss any hope of positioning themselves for a guaranteed starting spot goodbye.
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