The Frontstretch: Bubble Breakdown : Little Changes in Top 35 Picture as Gap Widens to 225 Points by Mike Lovecchio -- Sunday July 15, 2007

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Bubble Breakdown : Little Changes in Top 35 Picture as Gap Widens to 225 Points

Tracking The Top 35 In Nextel Cup Owner Points · Mike Lovecchio · Sunday July 15, 2007


With the Daytona debacle now in the rearview mirror, the battle for the Top 35 in car owner points continued this week in Chicagoland; but after an uneventful day for the majority of the cars on the bubble, little changed as far as positions go. In fact, the gap between 35th and 36th place is now the widest the margin has been all season long.

For more on what happened with those teams on the bubble this weekend at Chicagoland, as well as an update on the potential changes to the Top 35 rule next season, check out this week's edition of the Bubble Breakdown:

Biggest Mover(s)

The Wood Brothers decision to put Bill Elliott in the No. 21 car in an effort to propel the team into the Top 35 in owner points has paid dividends so far. This week, a 28th place run hit the spot, enough to move Elliott and the No. 21 team up and into the 36th spot in owner points. His problem? The same team he’s driving for is now a season-high 225 points behind Johnny Sauter and the No. 70 for a “locked-in” spot in the field each week.

Elliott (No. 21) – Moved from 36th to 35th in car owner points.

Honorable Mention

Andretti (No. 45) – With a new driver in the No. 45 this week, Petty Enterprises got a strong showing from John Andretti. Andretti's Top 20 finish (18th) moved the team one spot further from 35th; the team now ranks 33rd.

Biggest Loser

When Dave Blaney cut a tire on lap 202 and received major damage, any hope he had of becoming the first Toyota to crack the Top 35 vanished, at least for this race. A DNF resulted in a dismal 40th place finish for the Caterpillar Camry, and now, Blaney finds himself yet another spot away from the bubble.

Blaney (No. 22) – Fell from 36th to 37th in car owner points.

Tracking Toyota

With Dave Blaney's hopes of a decent finish literally shredded away, Toyota had little representation in the top half of the leaderboard. Jeremy Mayfield wound up the top Toyota, but still finished a mediocre 26th place while Michael Waltrip made the race this weekend and finished 30th. David Reutimann was the fourth and final Camry in the race, but mechanical problems forced him to retire on lap 43, eventually leaving him helpless and finishing 43rd.

Top 3 Finishing Toyotas:

Jeremy Mayfield (No. 36) – Finished 26th
Michael Waltrip (No. 55) – Finished 30th
Dave Blaney (No. 22) – Finished 40th

Breaking Down the Bubble

Pos Owner Car # Driver Points Points +/- of 35th Place
31 Robert Yates Racing 88 Ricky Rudd 1,597 +69
32 Haas CNC Racing 66 Jeff Green 1,584 +56
33 Petty Enterprises 45 John Andretti / Kyle Petty 1,567 +39
34 Ginn Racing 13 Joe Nemechek 1,547 +19
35 Haas CNC Racing 70 Johnny Sauter 1,528 0
36 Glen Wood 21 Bill Elliott / Ken Schrader 1,303 -225
37 Bill Davis Racing 22 Dave Blaney 1,296 -232
38 Evernham Motorsports 10 Scott Riggs 1,236 -292
39 Teresa Earnhardt 15 Paul Menard 1,209 -319
40 Team Red Bull 83 Brian Vickers 1,085 -443
41 Michael Waltrip Racing 00 David Reutimann 1,066 -462
42 Michael Waltrip Racing 44 Dale Jarrett 973 -555
43 Furniture Row Racing 78 Kenny Wallace 854 -674
44 James Finch / Morgan-McClure Motorsports 4 Ward Burton 837 -691
45 Bill Davis Racing 36 Jeremy Mayfield 827 -720
46 BAM Racing 49 Chad Chaffin 694 -834
47 Team Red Bull 84 A.J. Allmendinger 676 -852
48 Michael Waltrip Racing 55 Michael Waltrip 675 -853
49 Front Row Motorsports 37 Kevin LePage 472 -1,056

Possible Rule Changes Update

Nextel Cup director John Darby said this week that he would not change the current Top 35 rule that guarantees those teams in car owner points a spot in the field each week. He admitted that he was speaking for himself and not NASCAR, but he also said there has been talks of grouping each of the cars that would need to qualify their way into the field on time together on qualifying day. This would allow each of the "go-or-go-homers" to qualify under the same conditions, preventing certain drivers from having an advantage based on their draw on temperature sensitive tracks.

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07/16/2007 07:54 AM

It’s starting to look more and more like we won’t see Ken Schrader in that #21 car ever again, and we’ll be kicking off Speedweeks with the Toyotas in even worse shape than this year’s, with what looks to be only one guaranteed car in the show for next year’s 500.

Mike Lovecchio
07/16/2007 08:18 AM

It all depends on the situation of the No. 21 car and Bill Elliot’s past champion provisional status. The ultimate reason for him getting the ride was so that they could use the PCP to ensure a spot in the field each week and catch Sauter. 225 points is a lot to try and make up, and if Elliot uses all of his provisionals before they crack the top 35 I expect to see Schrader back in the car.

Mike Lovecchio
07/16/2007 10:56 AM

UPDATE Jayski is now reporting that Schrader could be back in the No. 49 in two weeks.

Michael McBride
07/16/2007 12:31 PM

It will take a while, but Bill Elliot will catch up and replace one of the currently locked in teams in the top 35. Mark my words by season’s end, he will. He has 5 PCP’s left, and he seems to have no difficulty qualifying on time and not using them. One of those teams will get ice cold and the #21 wil move past them.

Michael McBride
07/16/2007 12:35 PM

That’s funny Schrader is back in the BAM car. It took Brent Sherman just 5 races to destory what Kenny did for them in 2005 for entering

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