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Rookies in the Starting Lineup: Juan Pablo Montoya, Paul Menard, David Ragan and in his first Nextel Cup appearance, Jon Wood.
Rookie of the Race: Juan Pablo Montoya was named Raybestos Rookie of the Race, at Las Vegas and sits only seven points behind David Ragan in the ROTY season scoring. As a reward for his finish, Montoya earned a $5,000 bonus from Affinia Group as part of the Raybestos Rookie Magnificent Seven program.
Meegan’s Take: Montoya earned this Raybestos Rookie of the Race award, because despite several close calls, he kept it off the wall and in one piece. Granted, this is what a rookie should concentrate on, but I think his F1 skills translated into the â€˜oval language', if you will. His hands might have been full, gloves moving to and fro, but when it all came down to it, he kept it off the wall and on the track. On the pit stop side of it all, it looked like he had a hard time keeping his pit road speed, getting in the way of fellow driver Tony Raines, (who was by the rules, inside his pit box,) during a gas and go stop. All of these skills will come in time, he's a quick learner. When all was said and done, he finished 22nd.
Rocky Rookie Performance: After his wreck on lap two, it didn't look good for David Ragan. In stark contrast to Daytona and California, where the Roush Rookie finished fifth and 16th respectively, Ragan bought home his crippled AAA Ford in a miserable 37th place, only running 236 of the 300 laps.
Who Wasn’t Here?: A.J. Allmendinger, David Reutimann and Brandon Whitt. Not a good record for Allmendinger or Whitt who have gone 0-for-3 with their qualifying efforts in the Cup series. Reutimann failed to qualify after spinning out and hitting the wall. All these Rookies had to race their way in since they didn’t have any 2006 owner points to fall back on and with the hardest Goodyear tires ever run, all three were at long odds at Las Vegas this weekend.
Rookie Quote of The Week: When asked about his qualifying run where he spun out through the grass to miss the wall, Paul Menard joked about the incident:
"Pretty much, yeah [laughs]. I didn't know where it was going to go. I thought it was going to tip over, actually. It was bouncing across the paved area but we're all good. The only thing you can do is know where the wall is and try to steer away from it."
Official Raybestos Rookie Standings
Ragan – 37
Montoya – 30
Menard – 21
David Reutimann – 18
AJ Allmendinger – 3
Brandon Whitt – 3
Next Up: The series heads to Atlanta for the running of the Kobalt Tools 500. Only two of the rookies,Paul Menard and David Ragan, have raced there before with Menard finishing seventh in last year’s Golden Coral 500 , his first Nextel Cup event on an oval track, while Ragan finished back in 22nd, shortly after being cleared to race at 1.5 mile tracks or larger.
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