The Frontstretch: First CoT Race Means Desperate Future for Those Outside of Top 35 by Mike Lovecchio -- Monday March 19, 2007

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First CoT Race Means Desperate Future for Those Outside of Top 35

On The Bubble : Who's In And Who's Out Of The Top 35 · Mike Lovecchio · Monday March 19, 2007


When the Nextel Cup series takes to Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend, history will be made. There is no doubt that the Car of Tomorrow will steal the headlines - and that’s a relief for Kasey Kahne, who in any other year would feel the pressure of a media blitz surrounding his 37th place standing in the points. Evernham’s top driver in the stable is just one of several on the verge of a high-pressure scenario; there’s just one race remaining until 2007 owner points go into effect, and the pressure of qualifying on speed could quickly become an unpleasant reality for the No. 9 bunch. Also hoping to crack the Top 35 this week are Kahne’s Evernham Motorsports teammate Scott Riggs, Red Bull driver Brian Vickers, and D.E.I.‘s Paul Menard, along with historic entries by both the Wood Brothers and Bill Davis Racing.

Biggest Mover

Chip Ganassi Racing has proven to be the most improved team of 2007 to date. Of the CGR Dodges, the best move of the week goes to the No. 41 Target car driven by Reed Sorenson, who used a ninth place finish this weekend to jumpstart a 6 spot sprint into the Top 25 in points. Sorenson, along with teammates David Stremme and Juan Pablo Montoya, has had strong cars all season, but unlike his teammates, he doesn’t have the finishes to show for it. Currently sitting 25th in owner points, Sorenson and his No. 41 team should now have enough breathing room to relax heading into Bristol.

Biggest Loser

Greg Biffle has yet to post a Top 10 finish this season, continuing a trend started during a disappointing 2006. Biffle dropped 11 spots on Sunday, freefalling all the way to 27th after becomings involved in an incident with Brian Vickers and David Reutimann. But even with the disappointing finish, The Biff should still be safe; he’s sitting 92 points ahead of current Top 35 bubble driver Jeff Green.

Tracking Toyota

Toyota can't be happy with its production in the first four races. Dale Jarrett remains the lone entry in the Top 35 (33rd), but he’ll need a decent finish at Bristol just to keep his “locked in” status intact. This weekend's race is critical for Jarrett, who is quickly running out of champion’s provisionals.

Breaking Down the Bubble
Driver/Team/Points/Margin (+,-) of 35th/Avg. Finish at Bristol

30) No. 88 – Rudd/RYR 325, + 60 points ahead of 35th (18.6)
31) No. 96 – Raines/HOF Racing 313, +48 (28.3)
32) No. 25 – Mears/Hendrick 295, +30 (29.8)
33) No. 44 – Jarrett/MWR 283, +18 (14.4)
34) No. 45 – Petty/Petty 279, +15 (24.8)

35) No. 66 – Green/Haas 274 (26.9)

36) No. 15 – Menard/DEI 265, -9 points out of 35th (first start)
37) No. 9 – Kahne/Evernham 259, -15 (23.2)
38) No. 21 – Schrader and Wood/Wood 241, -33 (19.7)
39) No. 22 – Blaney/BDR 231, -43 (26.9)
40) No. 83 – Vickers/Red Bull 199, -75 (26.2)
41) No. 10 – Riggs/Evernham 195, -79 (24.3)
42) No. 4 – Burton/Finch 194, -80 (18.5)

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