The Frontstretch: Petty Fading, Feeling Pressure of Top 35 by Mike Lovecchio -- Sunday September 23, 2007

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Petty Fading, Feeling Pressure of Top 35

Mike Lovecchio · Sunday September 23, 2007


If you don’t think those drivers fighting to get – or remain – inside the Top 35 in car owner points are feeling any pressure with eight races remaining…think again. Kyle Petty’s obvious frustration towards Denny Hamlin following a lap 204 crash was without a doubt the expression of a disappointed driver trying hard to hold his spot in the field…not only for now, but ultimately for the first five races of 2008. The accident that ended Petty’s day drops the No. 45 team to just one point away from the 35th and final guaranteed starting position, leaving them more vulnerable than they’ve been in quite sometime.

To see who Petty is trying to fend off in the Top 35 battle, check out this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown:

Storylines from Dover

Where’s the No. 22?

Over the past month, it’s been the No. 21 and No. 22 teams jockeying for that 35th and final spot, but for the first time in that span, the car 36th in owner points couldn’t make the race on time and was sent home. When Dave Blaney failed to put the No. 22 in the show, the No. 21 was guaranteed to at least remain in the Top 35 and Ken Schrader did what he needed to do, fighting back from an early spin to finish a respectable 26th.

Gap between No. 21 (35th) and No. 22 (36th) – grew from 19 to 105 points

What’s up with Petty?

Frustration, frustration, frustration. The No. 45 has been free falling over the past five races, and now the margin between them and the 35th spot is just one point. This is now the closest Petty has been to the bubble position… and he knows it. The frustration simply got the best of him following the Hamlin incident, and the rest is history. While video of the dispute will almost certainly be on newsreels throughout the week, I hope NASCAR turns a cheek and lets it go — it was simply a disagreement between two drivers under a lot of pressure to perform. No harm, no foul.

Return of Jon Wood at Kansas

Wood competed in the Cup race earlier this year in Las Vegas before fading into obscurity. The next-generation driver was scheduled to both run the full Busch schedule and compete in numerous Cup races in the No. 21, but was sidelined with a health condition for several months, eventually returning to the Craftsman Truck Series this summer. Now, he’s scheduled to make his return this week at Kansas, driving a second No. 47 Ford for the Wood Brothers, as they trust Bill Elliott with the job of keeping the No. 21 in the Top 35. It’s also being rumored that Wood and Busch regular Marcos Ambrose will split the No. 21 seat in 2008.

Tracking Toyota

It was a great week for the Camry this week, with three Toyotas finishing in the Top 20. Surprisingly, the brigade was led by Michael Waltrip, who has missed more races than he has made this year, but he ran a solid race on Sunday, coming home 15th. Red Bull driver Brian Vickers continues to run strong, posting a 16th place finish, while David Reutimann was the final Toyota to crack the Top 20, continuing what’s been an impressive second half of the season. On the flip side, Dale Jarrett and A.J. Allmendinger both went to the garage before halfway, putting promising qualifying efforts to waste.

Top 3 Finishing Toyotas

Waltrip (No. 55) – Finished 15th
Vickers (No. 83) – Finished 16th
Reutimann (No. 00) – Finished 18th

Breaking Down the Bubble

Pos Owner Car # Driver Points Points +/- of 35th Place
31 Haas CNC Racing 66 Jeff Green 2,321 +214
32 Robert Yates Racing 88 Ricky Rudd / Kenny Wallace 2,251 +144
33 Haas CNC Racing 70 Johnny Sauter 2,191 +84
34 Petty Enterprises 45 Kyle Petty 2,108 +1
35 Wood Brothers 21 Ken Schrader / Bill Elliott 2,107 0
36 Bill Davis Racing 22 Dave Blaney 2,002 -105
37 Evernham Motorsports 10 Scott Riggs 1,871 -236
38 Red Bull Racing 83 Brian Vickers 1,860 -247
39 Michael Waltrip Racing 00 David Reutimann 1,758 -349
40 Michael Waltrip Racing 44 Dale Jarrett 1,363 -744
41 Morgan-McClure Motorsports 4 Ward Burton 1,310 -797
42 Furniture Row Racing 78 Joe Nemechek 1,256 -851
43 Michael Waltrip Racing 55 Michael Waltrip 1,220 -887
44 Bill Davis Racing 36 Jeremy Mayfield 1,185 -922
45 Team Red Bull 84 A.J. Allmendinger 1,138 -969
46 BAM Racing 49 John Andretti 1,116 -991

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
Mirror Driving: Winning Vs. Points, Needing a Boost, and The Lady’s Last Dance?
Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
Frontstretch Foto Funnies: It’s Not Gonna Fit…


©2000 - 2008 Mike Lovecchio and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

Chris J
09/24/2007 05:54 AM

Why are David Reutimann’s points the same as last week? He did finish 18th did’nt he?

Steve M.
09/24/2007 07:06 AM

Mike, what do you mean “No harm, no foul” regarding Petty vs. Hamlin? And “I hope NASCAR turns a cheek and lets it go — it was simply a disagreement between two drivers under a lot of pressure to perform.” I’m sorry, but if NASCAR turns yet another cheek, it’ll show that once again, “consistency” has no meaning to NASCAR officials. When Jeff Gordon shoved Matt Kenseth he was penalized and the same should happen to Petty. Yes, it’s all frustration and hot tempers, and I personally would love to see more physical action on pit row or in the garage. But if NASCAR is going to harp on one driver for his “frustration” and not another, well, that’s just wrong. And for the press to advocate one action and not another, well, that too is wrong.

Steven M.
09/24/2007 07:52 AM

With all due respect other Steve, the Gordon-Kenseth incident was from spring 2006. A better precedent to use for this year would be the Harvick-Montoya spat at the Glen, where no penalties were issued. I think NASCAR benefits more from allowing mild flareups like this than they did trying to ensure all of their drivers were Miss Manners graduates. If no penalty ensues, could we be seeing a realization by NASCAR that emotion at the track is a good thing?

Steve M.
09/24/2007 08:32 AM

Steven, you are correct and I am aware that the JG/MK incident was last year, but if NASCAR is going to change their policy regarding off/on track behavior, shouldn’t we, the fans, be advised? If for the 2007 season, NASCAR decided it was better to let raw emotions flow more freely between the drivers then they could have stated that fact; especially after the Harvick/Montoya scuffle. And what’s worse about that situation is that both of those guys were already on probation!! I’m just tired of trying to keep up with NASCAR’s rules and how they change from race to race. Talk about FRUSTRATION!!

09/24/2007 09:03 AM

Rather than worrying about things being equal for poor jeff gordon ( and not many people do ), lets just let it go . People lose their tempers . Everyone does! Does anyone really expect nascar to penalize competitors fairly ? Again , let it go !

Managing Editor
09/24/2007 10:05 AM

Re: Chris J.‘s comment

The No. 00’s points (David Reutimann) and the No. 83’s points (Brian Vickers) have now been corrected – it was an error by our writer in updating the chart, and we apologize for the inconvenience.

Thanks for writing in and reading the Frontstretch!

09/24/2007 10:55 AM

where was the Toy’s before the wrecks…..way back in 20+ positions. Don’t make more of it then it is, they still were pathetic.

09/24/2007 02:19 PM

if it wasnt for the power steering problem Mikey incoutered he would of had a top 10 maybe even a top 5. here is his quote “We had a lot of promise early in the race — we were really running fast. Then we had a power steering issue — then we had handling issues. I really don’t know which had to do with which — I know the power steering was a big issue because that makes you drive the car weird and maybe I didn’t adjust right for that. All in all we were competitive all day and fast early so we can take this, be positive and have a good feeling about what we did here today. We weren’t very good here in the spring so this is a great improvement for us here at Dover.” thanks to

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