With the Daytona debacle now in the rearview mirror, the battle for the Top 35 in car owner points continued this week in Chicagoland; but after an uneventful day for the majority of the cars on the bubble, little changed as far as positions go. In fact, the gap between 35th and 36th place is now the widest the margin has been all season long.
For more on what happened with those teams on the bubble this weekend at Chicagoland, as well as an update on the potential changes to the Top-35 rule next season, check out this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown:
The Wood Brothers decision to put Bill Elliott in the No. 21 car in an effort to propel the team into the Top 35 in owner points has paid dividends so far. This week, a 28th-place run hit the spot, enough to move Elliott and the No. 21 team up and into the 36th spot in owner points. His problem? The same team he’s driving for is now a season-high 225 points behind Johnny Sauter and the No. 70 for a “locked-in” spot in the field each week.
Elliott (No. 21) – Moved from 36th to 35th in car owner points.
John Andretti (No. 45) – With a new driver in the No. 45 this week, Petty Enterprises got a strong showing from Andretti. Andretti’s top-20 finish (18th) moved the team one spot further from 35th; the team now ranks 33rd.
When Dave Blaney cut a tire on lap 202 and received major damage, any hope he had of becoming the first Toyota to crack the Top 35 vanished, at least for this race. A DNF resulted in a dismal 40th-place finish for the Caterpillar Camry, and now, Blaney finds himself yet another spot away from the bubble.
Blaney (No. 22) – Fell from 36th to 37th in car owner points.
With Blaney’s hopes of a decent finish literally shredded away, Toyota had little representation in the top half of the leaderboard. Jeremy Mayfield wound up the top Toyota, but still finished a mediocre 26th-place, while Michael Waltrip made the race this weekend and finished 30th. David Reutimann was the fourth and final Camry in the race, but mechanical problems forced him to retire on lap 43, eventually leaving him helpless and finishing 43rd.
Top-Three Finishing Toyotas
Jeremy Mayfield (No. 36) – Finished 26th
Michael Waltrip (No. 55) – Finished 30th
Dave Blaney (No. 22) – Finished 40th
Breaking Down the Bubble
Possible Rule Changes Update: Nextel Cup director John Darby said this week that he would not change the current Top-35 rule that guarantees those teams in car owner points a spot in the field each week. He admitted that he was speaking for himself and not NASCAR, but he also said there has been talks of grouping each of the cars that would need to qualify their way into the field on time together on qualifying day. This would allow each of the “go-or-go-homers” to qualify under the same conditions, preventing certain drivers from having an advantage based on their draw on temperature sensitive tracks.
|Pos||Owner||Car #||Driver||Points||Points +/- of 35th Place|
|31||Robert Yates Racing||88||Ricky Rudd||1,597||+69|
|32||Haas CNC Racing||66||Jeff Green||1,584||+56|
|33||Petty Enterprises||45||John Andretti/Kyle Petty||1,567||+39|
|34||Ginn Racing||13||Joe Nemechek||1,547||+19|
|35||Haas CNC Racing||70||Johnny Sauter||1,528||0|
|36||Glen Wood||21||Bill Elliott/Ken Schrader||1,303||-225|
|37||Bill Davis Racing||22||Dave Blaney||1,296||-232|
|38||Evernham Motorsports||10||Scott Riggs||1,236||-292|
|39||Teresa Earnhardt||15||Paul Menard||1,209||-319|
|40||Team Red Bull||83||Brian Vickers||1,085||-443|
|41||Michael Waltrip Racing||00||David Reutimann||1,066||-462|
|42||Michael Waltrip Racing||44||Dale Jarrett||973||-555|
|43||Furniture Row Racing||78||Kenny Wallace||854||-674|
|44||James Finch/Morgan-McClure Motorsports||4||Ward Burton||837||-691|
|45||Bill Davis Racing||36||Jeremy Mayfield||827||-720|
|46||BAM Racing||49||Chad Chaffin||694||-834|
|47||Team Red Bull||84||AJ Allmendinger||676||-852|
|48||Michael Waltrip Racing||55||Michael Waltrip||675||-853|
|49||Front Row Motorsports||37||Kevin Lepage||472||-1,056|