The Frontstretch: Rain Didn't Stop Top 35 Race From Tightening Up by Mike Neff -- Sunday June 18, 2006

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Rain Didn't Stop Top 35 Race From Tightening Up

On the Edge - The Fight for the Top 35 in Nextel Cup Owner Points · Mike Neff · Sunday June 18, 2006

 

The old phrase of “rain, rain go away” didn't work for the Nextel Cup race today. Michigan received April showers in June, which caused the race to be cut short after lap 129. Kasey Kahne continued his impressive streak of winning four out of his five career races from the pole.

Meanwhile, teams battling for the coveted Top 35 in owner points were not given a full race to try and make their cars better, but luckily for them, they also didn't have a full race for something to go wrong, as has happened for these teams more often than not this year. Let's look at the Winners and Losers:

Winners
Robby Gordon was the big winner in the battle for the 35th spot. Gordon overcame a spin on lap four to post an 18th place finish; the 109 points garnered by the #7 team moved them up two spots to 28th in the point standings and well out of range of 36th.

Dave Blaney was the other driver in the Top 35 battle to improve his position. Blaney continued his Cup leading streak of races running at the finish to 33; Blaney brought the Bill Davis Racing Caterpillar car home 30th, but that was good enough to move him up one spot in the order to 31st.

By virtue of making the race and finishing 34th, Kevin Lepage was able to move the #49 team up one place in the owner standings to 40th. They also picked up five bonus points for leading a lap. They are still miles from the Top 35, but consistent runs can only help the single car operation at BAM Motorsports.

David Stremme did not improve his point standings position, but he did have a solid run to finish 19th in the race. The finish moved Stremme within two points of Michael Waltrip for the 37th position. Travis Kvapil also had a solid run, coming home in 21st position. While Kvapil is still 112 points out of 35th, the team has been looking better as of late, making races and running solidly to move up to 36th in the owner standings.

Losers
Tony Raines was the big loser on Sunday, losing a tire on lap 81 and spinning out. The resulting 38th place finish, 3 laps off the pace, cost the Hall of Fame Racing #96 team two spots in the owner standings, as they have now slid down the ladder to 30th spot.

Ken Schrader was involved in a wreck on lap 32 that put the Wood Brothers #21 out of the race. The 42nd place finish dropped the team to 32nd in the point standings, now just 125 points out of 36th.

On the DNQ list, Chad Chaffin in the #61 Front Row Motorsports Chevrolet and Jimmy Spencer in the No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet were among those who did not qualify for the event. The failure cost the #61 team one position in the standings.

On the Bubble:

Pos Owner Car # Points Points from 36th Points behind next position
26 Gene Haas 66 1380 264 -74
27 Joe Gibbs 18 1354 238 -26
28 Robby Gordon 7 1328 212 -26
29 Nelson Bowers ‘01 1316 200 -12
30 Bill Saunders 96 1311 195 -5
31 Bill Davis 22 1257 141 -54
32 Glen Wood 21 1241 125 -16
33 Ray Evernham 19 1236 120 -5
34 Kyle Petty 45 1234 118 -2
35 Nelson Bowers 14 1228 112 -6

On the Outside Looking In:

Pos Owner Car # Points Points from 35th Points behind next position
36 Cal Wells 32 1116 -112 -112
37 Doug Bawel 55 1072 -156 -44
38 Felix Sabates 40 1070 -158 -2
39 Larry McClure 4 1021 -207 -49
40 Beth Ann Morgenthau 49 770 -458 -251
41 Jeff Stec 61 749 -479 -21
42 Barney Visser 178 599 -629 -150
43 Brad Jenkins 34 465 -763 -134
44 Stanton Barrett 195 449 -779 -16
45 Raynard McGlynn 174 268 -960 -181

After the rain shortened affair at Michigan, the Cup drivers are off to the wine country of California. The twists and turns of Infineon Raceway lay in wait to give the teams battling for the Top 35 a completely new set of headaches. Many teams will resort to road course ringers to try and better their fate…it is already known that Terry Labonte will drive for Hall of Fame Racing, Ron Fellows will drive for PPI Motorsports, and Scott Pruitt will drive the #40 for Chip Ganassi among those teams battling for a Top 35 spot. Two things are for sure: the race won't be rain delayed this week, as it never rains in the wine country this time of year; most importantly, the teams who improve their points position at Infineon will most definitely gain their positions the old fashioned way…..they'll earn it.

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