The Frontstretch: Nextel Cup Rookie Report : Ragan Wins Battle At Homestead ... But Montoya Wins War by Tony Lumbis -- Sunday November 18, 2007

Go to site navigation Go to article

Rookies in the Starting Lineup: David Ragan (7th), Patrick Carpentier (28th), Sam Hornish, Jr. (29th), Juan Pablo Montoya (33rd), David Reutimann (35th), Paul Menard (39th)

Unofficial Finishing Positions: David Ragan (10th), Juan Pablo Montoya (15th), David Reutimann (25th), Paul Menard (35th), Sam Hornish, Jr. (37th), Patrick Carpentier (40th)

Rookie of the Race: David Ragan. It was a solid end to a rookie season for Ragan at Homestead, as he started the final race of the year in a career second best 7th qualifying spot. It was a quiet day for him after that; which, in many ways, was a good thing for the Georgia native. Ragan ran in the Top 20 for much of the race and his Jimmy Fennig led pit crew got the No. 6 Ford on and off of pit road efficiently, with solid stops throughout the afternoon. Although the car wasn't quite right through the middle part of the race, patience and persistence paid off for this team as they brought home a 10th place finish. It as Ragan's third career Top 10 and 14th top rookie finish this season.

Tony's Take: It's been a few weeks since we heard from Mr. Ragan, as he has been gaining more notoriety for his car acrobatics than his performance of late. However, on Sunday he reminded the NASCAR world that his team had been gaining momentum down the stretch, as they turned in solid performances over the past few months. While Juan Pablo Monotya showed his muscle throughout the race, it was Ragan who bested his rookie counterpart at the end of the night. The AAA driver has been saying for quite some time now that this team was capable of top ten finishes. Perhaps this won't be the last time we see Ragan better Montoya, as both of these promising stars will battle for many years to come.

Speaking of Montoya, congratulations to both he and his entire Texaco Havoline team on earning the 2007 Rookie of the Year title. It certainly has been an interesting season for the Columbian, one which I'll review in more detail when final grades are awarded to each rookie in the upcoming weeks.

Rocky Rookie Performance/Rookie Wreck of the Day: Patrick Carpentier.

For the second straight week, Patrick Carpentier put the No. 10 car into the field, which, for the second week in a row, proved to be the biggest accomplishment for NASCAR's newest rookie. Carpentier was having already struggling when he learned yet another important lesson: 3,000 pound stock cars take longer to slow than open wheel cars. The Canadian missed the memo about everyone slowing up to avoid the spinning car of Johnny Sauter on lap 159. That's when he clipped the side of Brian Vickers' Toyota, sending the No. 83 machine hard into the inside wall. The incident left the Valvoline Dodge with significant damage, ending any chance of salvaging a decent finish on the day. Still, Carpentier is sure to be looking for a fresh start in 2008 after a rough outing in the final two races of this season.

Who Wasn't Here?: A.J. Allmendinger and Burney Lamar.

A.J. Allmendinger ended the 2007 season in the same fashion that he started it in … going home early. It was certainly an up and down season for the former open wheel sensation; over the past month, he earned his two career best finishes. He also will have the distinction of participating in Toyota's inaugural year in the Nextel Cup Series; but the downside of course, was missing races, as his team was unable to make half of the events this season. Allmendinger has way too much talent to suffer through a second consecutive season of disappointments, so look for this team to be back with a vengeance in 2008.

Burney Lamar wrecked during his qualifying attempt on Friday, unable to complete a lap; as a result, he missed the field as well.

Rookie Quotes of the Week:

Juan Pablo Montoya shares his thoughts on winning the Rookie of the Year and some of the lessons he's learned in 2007.

What's the main thing that you've learned this year?

"Bring the car home every week. Whether it's 35th or first, bring it home. That's very important."

Comment on your Raybestos Rookie of the year season.

"I think it went pretty good. It's a bit of every[thing] now, up and down. I think everybody at Ganassi did an amazing job. It's one of those deals I think it was more for us to lose than win so I think it came out pretty good. I think it’s more important we had a race win. I think for the record books and stuff, I think it's pretty good that I won the Raybestos Rookie of the Year."

Can you compare being a rookie in Nextel Cup to being a rookie in another series?

"I think I've been the rookie before in a lot of series but being a rookie with the experience I had it's very different. I had no stock car experience but I think from my open wheel background I raced pretty much about everything you can race. I think it's pretty cool. I think it's good for the team. I think it's something to cheer about in the team. I think what’s more important is how the performance of the team came up through the whole year. Where we started and where we finished is a big difference."

David Ragan talks about the significance of ending the year on a high note:

How big is it to get a Top 10 going into 2008?

"Oh, it's big. For us at this point, just to finish would have been great. The last month has been tough. A solid Top 10 will give us something to talk about. We've got a lot of the same guys coming back next year, so that's going to be a lot of fun."

Raybestos Rookie Standings:

Stay tuned to for the official final rookie standings of 2007.

Next Up: We're done! The series will return for the Great American Race in February, featuring a whole new crop of rookies including Dario Franchitti, Patrick Carpentier, Sam Hornish Jr. and Jacques Villeneuve. As always, keep reading as we will keep you up to date on anyone else who enters the rookie race for '08 and we'll preview all of the new freshman for next year.

Tony's Top Finishing Rookie Pick: I thought Paul Menard would finish on a high note, but it was not to be, as a spin on lap 78 relegated him to a disappointing 35th place finish … forcing me to play second fiddle to my readers in our competition.

You Make The Pick: Forty percent of you picked Juan Pablo Montoya as the top rookie for the Ford 400. It looked like you were going to be right for much of the race, but David Ragan snuck the honor away in Homestead’s final segment. However, you didn't need the extra points, as you beat me by one for the top rookie pick competition in 2008. Congratulations, and thanks to all of you who participated in our survey throughout the year!

Event Track Tony’s Pick Finish Reader’s Pick Finish Top Finishing Rookie Finish
Subway Fresh Fit 500 Phoenix David Ragan 41st —- —- Paul Menard 25th
Aaron’s 499 Talladega David Reutimann 32nd —- —- David Ragan 17th
Crown Royal Presents The Jim Stewart 400 Richmond Paul Menard 16th Juan Pablo Montoya 26th Paul Menard 16th
Dodge Avenger 500 Darlington Juan Pablo Montoya 23rd Paul Menard 31st Juan Pablo Montoya 23rd
Coca-Cola 600 Charlotte Juan Pablo Montoya 28th No Pick DNS Juan Pablo Montoya 28th
Autism Speaks 400 Dover David Ragan 14th David Ragan 14th David Ragan 14th
Pocono 500 Pocono A.J. Allmendinger 39th David Ragan 26th Juan Pablo Montoya 20th
Citizens Bank 400 Michigan David Ragan 21st David Ragan 21st Paul Menard 12th
Toyota / Save Mart 350 Infineon Juan Pablo Montoya 1st Juan Pablo Montoya 1st Juan Pablo Montoya 1st
Lenox Industrial Tools 300 New Hampshire Paul Menard 39th David Reutimann 38th David Ragan 15th
Pepsi 400 Daytona David Reutimann 26th David Ragan 12th David Ragan 12th
USG Sheetrock 400 Chicagoland Paul Menard 42nd David Ragan 25th Juan Pablo Montoya 15th
Allstate 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Juan Pablo Montoya 2nd Juan Pablo Montoya 2nd Juan Pablo Montoya 2nd
Pennsylvania 500 Pocono David Ragan 33rd Juan Pablo Montoya 16th Juan Pablo Montoya 16th
Centurion Boats At The Glen Watkins Glen Juan Pablo Montoya 39th Juan Pablo Montoya 39th Ron Fellows 4th
3M Performance 400 Michigan David Reutimann 23rd David Ragan 18th David Ragan 18th
Sharpie 500 Bristol David Reutimann DNQ David Ragan 41st Juan Pablo Montoya 17th
Sharp Aquos 500 California Paul Menard 24th Juan Pablo Montoya 33rd David Ragan 12th
Chevy Rock ‘N’ Roll 400 Richmond David Ragan 3rd Paul Menard 26th David Ragan 3rd
Sylvania 300 New Hampshire David Reutimann 26th David Ragan 19th David Ragan 19th
Dodge Dealers 400 Dover David Ragan 25th David Ragan 25th Juan Pablo Montoya 10th
Lifelock 400 Kansas David Reutimann 31st David Ragan 16th David Ragan 16th
UAW-Ford 500 Talladega David Reutimann 22nd David Ragan 34th Juan Pablo Montoya 15th
Subway 500 Martinsville David Reutimann 17th David Reutimann 17th Juan Pablo Montoya 8th
Pep Boys Auto 500 Atlanta A.J. Allmendinger 16th Sam Hornish, Jr. DNQ A.J. Allmendinger 16th
Dickies 500 Texas Juan Pablo Montoya 25th A.J. Allmendinger 39th Juan Pablo Montoya 25th
Checker Auto Parts 500K Phoenix David Ragan 32nd Juan Pablo Montoya 17th Juan Pablo Montoya 17th
Ford 400 Homestead Paul Menard 35th Juan Pablo Montoya 15th David Ragan 10th

Season Scorecard: Tony 8, Readers 9.

The Frontstretch Newsletter, back in 2014 gives you more of the daily news, commentary, and racing features from your favorite writers you know and love. Don’t waste another minute – click here to sign up now. We’re here to make sure you stay informed … so make sure you jump on for the ride!

Today on the Frontstretch:
Swan Racing Announces Restructuring, No. 26 & No. 30 ‘Sold’ Off
Tech Talk with Tony Gibson: Taking Stock Of Danica Patrick In Year Two
Vexing Vito: Three Drivers In Need of a Role Reversal
Going By the Numbers: Top-10 NASCAR Variety Hard To Come By In…
Truckin’ Thursdays: Lessons Learned Just Two Races In
Fantasy Insider: Team Revelations For NASCAR’s Short Tracks



©2000 - 2008 Tony Lumbis and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!