The Frontstretch: From California to Delaware: Gordon Caps Off Busy Week With Top 10 by Mike Lovecchio -- Monday June 4, 2007

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With both the Busch and Nextel Cup Series in Dover this weekend, a number of drivers were busy double-dipping at the Monster Mile. The most impressive double-duty performance, however, wasn't Carl Edwards following up his victory Saturday with a third place run Monday; in fact, it didn't even feature a driver that competed in two NASCAR events.

Robby Gordon traveled back-and-forth through three time zones from Delaware to California all week competing in the Baja 500 off-road race while preparing for the Autism Speaks 400. After finishing third overall in the Baja, Gordon fought from the back of the field after an engine change to record his first Nextel Cup Top 10 of the season with a tenth place run at one of NASCAR's most demanding tracks.

See how Gordon stacks up in the Top 35 in this week’s Bubble Breakdown:

Biggest Mover(s)

A solid run by Kasey Kahne has been long overdue, especially after two sub-par performances at two of his better tracks in Darlington and Lowe's. For once, Kahne ran strong for much of the race weekend, starting fourth and inevitably finishing eleventh. It was Kahne's best finish since the Daytona 500 and moved his team up three spots in owner points.

Kahne (No. 9 team) – Moved from 32nd to 29th in owner points.

Honorable Mention:

Casey Mears – Followed up win with a 13th place finish; +3 spots (27th).
Robby Gordon – First Top 10 since 2006; +2 spots (31st).

Biggest Loser(s)

Last week, Kyle Petty captured his first Top 5 since Dover of 1997. His trip to the same track one decade later didn't fare as well, though, as Petty’s car struggled from the drop of the green flag. Starting 39th, Petty was nearly one lap behind by the first competition caution and had to battle to just stay on the same lap as the leaders. His problems continued on Lap 30 when he made contact with Jimmie Johnson on pit road, damaging the overall balance of the race car. Petty eventually finished seven laps down in 34th in what could only be described a frustrating day at the Monster Mile.

Petty (No. 45 team) – Moved from 26th to 30th in car owner points.

Honorable Mention:

Joe Nemechek – Finished 25th; Dropped from 28th to 32nd
Ricky Rudd – Finished 39th; Dropped from 31st to 34th

Tracking Toyota

The biggest news regarding Toyota this week was Michael Waltrip making his first event since the Daytona 500. Waltrip had a solid run fighting back from a late-race spin to finish 28th, but his MWR teammates struggled, with Dale Jarrett finishing 43rd with his third straight engine failure and David Reutimann failing to make the race. One week after recording the first Top 5 for Toyota, Brian Vickers had the highest finishing position for Toyota again this week, but this time, he finished a more pedestrian 19th. Vickers' rookie Red Bull teammate *A.J. Allmendinger finished 33rd while Jeremy Mayfield finished 38th in his Bill Davis Racing Camry.

Breaking Down the Bubble

Pos Owner Car # Driver Points Points +/- of 36th Place
31 Robby Gordon Motorsports 7 Robby Gordon 1,126 +98
32 Ginn Racing 13 Joe Nemechek 1,118 +90
33 Robert Yates Racing 38 David Gilliland 1,062 +34
34 Robert Yates Racing 88 Ricky Rudd 1,045 +17
35 Haas CNC Racing 70 Johnny Sauter 1,028 0
36 Evernham Motorsports 10 Scott Riggs 942 -86
37 Bill Davis Racing 22 Dave Blaney 895 -133
38 Team Red Bull 83 Brian Vickers 848 -180
39 Dale Earnhardt, Inc. 15 Paul Menard 793 -235
40 Wood Brothers 21 Bill Elliott
Ken Schrader
Jon Wood
779 -249
41 Michael Waltrip Racing 44 Dale Jarrett 706 -322
42 Furniture Row Racing 78 Kenny Wallace 663 -365
43 James Finch / Morgan-McClure Motorsports 4 Ward Burton 624 -404
44 Michael Waltrip Racing 00 David Reutimann 604 -424
45 Bill Davis Racing 36 Jeremy Mayfield 539 -489
46 BAM Racing 49 Mike Bliss 499 -529
47 Team Red Bull 84 A.J. Allmendinger 475 -553
48 Front Row Motorsports 37 Kevin LePage / John Andretti 322 -706
49 Michael Waltrip Racing 55 Michael Waltrip 321 -707

My thoughts on the Top 35 heading to Pocono

Johnny Sauter holds a comfortable 86 point lead over 36th place Scott Riggs and an even wider margin over Dave Blaney. The lone driver outside of the Top 35 making progress towards the bubble is Vickers with two consecutive solid runs, but he will have to make the field for a couple more races to have a shot at catching 35th. Pay close attention to the Robert Yates Racing cars of David Gilliland and Ricky Rudd, who have slipped to 33rd and 34th, respectively, in car owner points the past few weeks. A few more bad runs by those cars could have them slipping dangerously closer into bubble territory.

Author’s Note : I would like to dedicate this week’s column to Bill France Jr. who carried out his family’s vision and developed NASCAR into one of America’s most watched sports. Without him NASCAR would not be where it is today and his legacy will live on forever.

For all the latest news and information concerning the death of Bill France, Jr. click here for all that Frontstretch has to offer on this tragic loss.

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