The Frontstretch: Nextel Cup Rookie Report: Michigan by Tommy Thompson -- Tuesday August 21, 2007

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Nextel Cup Rookie Report: Michigan

Tommy Thompson · Tuesday August 21, 2007


Editors’ Note: Tony Lumbis is on vacation this week, so Tommy Thompson takes his place on the Rookie Report this week.

Rookies in the Starting Lineup for the 3M Performance 400: David Reutimann (12th), David Ragan (25th), Juan Pablo Montoya (26th) and Paul Menard (38th)

Unofficial Finishing Positions: David Ragan (18th), David Reutimann (23rd), Juan Pablo Montoya (26th), Paul Menard (39th)

Rookie of the Race: David Ragan: The Roush-Fenway Racing driver continues to show steady improvement as he put in a solid Top 20 performance at the super-fast MIS. Ragan had competed in the Citizens Bank 400 at Michigan International Speedway in June 2007 in his only other Cup start at the track.

Tommy's Take: Not a spectacular run by Ragan but steadfast and solid, nonetheless. This is the kind of races that the young driver needs to gain confidence, as well as convince Jack Roush that he is worth sticking with as his career progresses.

Rocky Rookie Performance: Let's give it to Juan Pablo Montoya, though he did finish ahead of fellow Raybestos Rookie of the Year competitor Paul Menard. Montoya spun inexplicably on lap 15 bringing out a caution — the first for an on-track incident. Though the error also caused Chad McCumbee (filling in for the injured Kyle Petty) and Joe Nemechek to spin, the Raybestos Rookie of the Year point leader did an admirable job of keeping his car off the wall and the fenders in tact. However, in absence of any other rookies being involved in any significant snafu's…Juan Pablo is this week's “winner”.

Tommy's Note: Though the Columbian wins the Rocky Performance of the week award, Kevin Harvick continues to be the horses behind for his continuing sarcastic verbal lambasting of Montoya after learning from his crew that the Ganassi driver was responsible for the caution. Harvick's apparent displeasure with the Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate's driving came to the forefront at Watkins Glen last week when the Childress driver was collected-up in an accident by Montoya — an accident that was not necessarily of his doing.

Who Wasn't There: Red Bull rookie, and open-wheel convert A.J. Allmendinger again missed the race on qualifying time. To date, Allmendinger has competed in only eight of the 23 races that he has attempted.

Rookie Quote of the Week: “The race was just a little crazy there at the end. Everybody was driving hard trying to get the last few spots and trying to get this thing finished so they can get back home. We've all had a long, boring weekend and we were ready to get it in. I'm sure the excitement at Bristol will far make up for it." -David Ragan

Unofficial Raybestos Rookie standings:
Unavailable at press time

Next Up: The unpredictable half-mile bullring at Bristol, Tennessee will play host to the Raybestos rookies. The track is sure to confound NASCAR's rookie class. The contrast between Bristol Motor Speedway and the wide multi-grooved MIS is startling. Rookie mistakes will not be forgiven as easily at Bristol, making it a real test of which one of the freshmen can exhibit the most patience.

You Make The Pick:

Tommy's Pick for Next Week's Top Finishing Rookie: Bristol is a "crap shoot," but I will take David Reutimann as my pick. The young driver seems well disciplined and able to get it done. His biggest hurdle will be having to qualify for the race on time.

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 500 Michigan David Reutimann 23rd David Ragan 18th David Ragan 18th

Season Score : Tony 5, Readers 6.

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