NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Bubble Breakdown: Bill Elliott vs. Dave Blaney – The Top-35 Battle Heats Up

As the haulers left Watkins Glen a little over one week ago, the most disappointed team was clearly the No. 22 Bill Davis entry that had just had its bubble burst by Boris Said who piloted the No. 21 to a 14th-place finish and passed the No. 22 into the Top 35 in car owner points. While it was a long weekend at Michigan for every Cup team, with rain postponing the race two consecutive days, it was an even longer week for the No. 22 who had to prepare to qualify for the race on time. The pressure that Dave Blaney had to feel on Friday did not phase the Toyota driver who posted the 17th-fastest time of the session.

Tuesday was an even better day for Blaney, who flew under the radar for the first half of the race, but wound up finishing an impressive sixth, which was enough to propel the team back inside the bubble. This is the third week in a row that the 35th position in owner points has changed hands, and it should remain competitive for the remainder of the season. As the race for the 12th and final Chase spot heats up, the second most intriguing battle currently going on in Nextel Cup is the battle between the No. 21 and No. 22 for the final spot in the Top 35.

See just how far back the No. 21 is in this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown.

Biggest Mover

From the worst weekend to the best weekend, Blaney has experienced a full spectrum of emotions over the past two race weekends. Blaney and the Bill Davis Racing team stepped up when they needed to and took advantage of a poor 35th-place finish by Bill Elliott. Awesome Bill is still knocking on the door of the Top 35 though, just 55 points behind Blaney; one strong finish may be all Elliott needs to leapfrog Blaney once again.

Blaney (No. 22) — Moved from 36th to 35th in car owner points.

Biggest Loser

The No. 45 Petty Enterprises team has really struggled as of late. Whether it be Kyle Petty or Chad McCumbee behind the wheel, a good finish has been hard to come by. The No. 45 car has had finishes of 41st, 42nd, 33rd and 41st in each of its last four starts. The 41st-place finish this week dropped the No. 45 into 34th in car owner points, and the team is now less than 100 points from dropping out of the Top 35 all together.

Petty/McCumbee (No. 45) — Moved from 33rd to 34th in car owner points.

Tracking Toyota

What an amazing week it was for Toyota. Brian Vickers ran strong for the first half of the race; Blaney for the second half. In the end, both finished in the top 10 with Vickers finishing eighth. It will be interesting to see if Toyota can follow up its strong performance this week with a good run at a completely different track this weekend at Bristol.

Top-Three Finishing Toyotas

Blaney — Finished sixth
Vickers — Finished eighth
David Reutimann — Finished 23rd

Breaking Down the Bubble

Pos Owner Car # Driver Points Points +/- of 35th Place (No. 13 is ineligible)
31 Haas CNC Racing 66 Jeff Green 1,929 +184
32 Robert Yates Racing 88 Ricky Rudd 1,925 +180
33 Haas CNC Racing 70 Johnny Sauter 1,805 +60
34 Petty Enterprises 45 Kyle Petty/Chad McCumbee 1,769 +24
35 Bill Davis Racing 22 Dave Blaney 1,745 0
36 Wood Brothers Racing 21 Bill Elliot 1,690 -55
37 Evernham Motorsports 10 Scott Riggs 1,560 -185
38 Ginn Racing 13 None None *ineligible*
39 Team Red Bull 83 Brian Vickers 1,448 -297
40 Michael Waltrip Racing 00 PJ Jones/David Reutimann 1,337 -408
xx Teresa Earnhardt 15 None (Menard now using No. 14 points) 1,209 *ineligible*
41 Michael Waltrip Racing 44 Dale Jarrett 1,136 -609

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