The Frontstretch: Accident Claims Elliott, Petty; Boosts Blaney In Top 35 Race by Mike Lovecchio -- Sunday November 4, 2007

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Accident Claims Elliott, Petty; Boosts Blaney In Top 35 Race

Mike Lovecchio · Sunday November 4, 2007

 

This was supposed to be the time of year the battle for a “locked in” spot for the first five races of 2008 heated up in Nextel Cup. In fact, this was supposed to be the time that the Top 35 battle was just as intense as the Chase. But with just two races now remaining, it appears that the 35th and final spot will be all but secured heading into Homestead, after a lap 129 accident ended any hope of a good run for the team currently 36th in owner points, the No. 21 of Bill Elliott.

With the gap widened considerably – up to 127 points – it seems like the Wood Brothers may have a difficult time recovering from Sunday's misfortune. To see where their main competition stacks up now in the Top 35 picture, check out this week's edition of the Bubble Breakdown:

This nasty wreck left Kyle Petty and Bill Elliott’s cars in shambles on lap 129 – turning the Top 35 race upside down.

Accident hurts Elliott, Petty

When David Stremme blew a left rear tire on lap 129, the Top 35 picture changed dramatically. Attempting to keep his car on the inside of the track, the driver of the No. 40 quickly lost control, sliding into both the 34th and 36th place teams in owner points while slamming hard into the outside wall. All three cars wound up totaling their vehicles in an ugly-looking wreck; when all was said and done, Elliott finished 36th, many laps down, while Kyle Petty never returned, winding up 42nd after his vehicle briefly caught on fire.

That left a clear path for the No. 22 Toyota driven by Dave Blaney. 35th in owner points coming in, Blaney did just what he had to do for the team, staying out of trouble and cruising to a solid 21st place finish. Now, he sits in good position with just two races remaining on the season.

Top 35 Quote

Despite the bad luck, Bill Elliott was pleased with his team's effort over at the No. 21:

“Well, it sure felt like we were a little star-crossed out there today. We had to endure a couple of penalties, but that’s part of it. Then we got collected in that deal and tore the car up pretty good," he said. "I will say, however, that these guys did a great job getting the car fixed right the first time and getting me back out there. The guys on this crew showed a lot of heart today.”

OTHER NOTES

Scott Riggs had a great run. He finished 13th and made up 24 points on Blaney; however, the No. 10 team stands 264 points behind 35th with two races remaining, and would need nothing short of a miracle with new driver Patrick Carpentier to be “locked in” for 2008.

Despite a strong performance in qualifying, the Red Bull entry of A.J. Allmendinger ran into problems from the start and finished 39th. The team now stands 44th in owner points, over 1,000 behind the bubble spot in what’s been a difficult year for the rookie.

Michael Waltrip snapped his streak of six consecutive races made when he failed to make the field.

Jeremy Mayfield’s drive in the No. 66 was a decent one, finishing 22nd, but by virtue of Ricky Rudd finishing 15th, Rudd jumped the No. 66 and moved Mayfield into the bubble picture. With just two races left, however, the No. 66 is a lock to finish in the Top 35.

Tracking Toyota

I honestly thought this would be the week Toyota would have a strong, all-around great showing, with the Red Bull entries leading the charge. That ended early, however, when Allmendinger ran into problems not long after the start. Instead, the highest running Toyota was 2 laps down. Not impressive, to say the least; but it was Blaney who led the charge, and it will likely be Blaney who is the lone Camry to finish the year in the Top 35 as a result.

Top 3 Finishing Toyotas

Blaney (No. 22) - Finished 21st
Vickers (No. 83) - Finished 23rd
Skinner (No. 36) - Finished 24th

Breaking Down the Bubble

Pos Owner Car # Driver Points Points +/- of 35th Place
31 Haas CNC Racing 66 Jeremy Mayfield 2,844 +190
32 Robert Yates Racing 38 David Gilliland 2,778 +124
33 Haas CNC Racing 70 Johnny Sauter 2,736 +82
34 Petty Enterprises 45 Kyle Petty 2,677 +23
35 Bill Davis Racing 22 Dave Blaney 2,654 0
36 Wood Brothers 21 Ken Schrader / Bill Elliott 2,527 -127
37 Evernham Motorsports 10 Scott Riggs 2,390 -264
38 Team Red Bull 83 Brian Vickers 2,214 -440
39 Michael Waltrip Racing 00 David Reutimann 2,183 -471
40 Michael Waltrip Racing 55 Michael Waltrip 1,784 -870
41 Michael Waltrip Racing 44 Dale Jarrett 1,747 -907
42 Furniture Row Motorsports 78 Joe Nemechek 1,580 -1,074
43 Team Red Bull 84 A.J. Allmendinger 1,542 -1,112
44 Morgan McClure Motorsports 4 Ward Burton 1,487 -1,167
45 Bill Davis Racing 36 Mike Skinner 1,479 -1,175
46 BAM Racing 49 John Andretti 1,452 -1,202

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