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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Nextel Cup Rookie Report: 2007 3M Performance 400 at Michigan

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: Ragan (18th), Reutimann (23rd), Montoya (26th), Menard (39th)

Rookie of the Race: 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 Montoya, though he did finish ahead of fellow Raybestos Rookie of the Year competitor 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 points leader did an admirable job of keeping his car off the wall and the fenders intact. However, in absence of any other rookies being involved in any significant snafus, Juan Pablo is this week’s “winner.”

Tommy’s Note: Though the Colombian wins the Rocky Performance of the week award, Kevin Harvick continues to be the horse’s 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 AJ 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, Tenn. 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.

Tommy’s Pick for Next Week’s Top-Finishing Rookie: Bristol is a “crap shoot,” but I will take 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 | Ragan | 41st | — | — | Menard | 25th |
| Aaron’s 499 | Talladega | Reutimann | 32nd | — | — | Ragan | 17th |
| Crown Royal Presents The Jim Stewart 400 | Richmond | Menard | 16th | Montoya | 26th | Menard | 16th |
| Dodge Avenger 500 | Darlington | Montoya | 23rd | Menard | 31st | Montoya | 23rd |
| Coca-Cola 600 | Charlotte | Montoya | 28th | No Pick | DNS | Montoya | 28th |
| Autism Speaks 400 | Dover | Ragan | 14th | Ragan | 14th | Ragan | 14th |
| Pocono 500 | Pocono | Allmendinger | 39th | Ragan | 26th | Montoya | 20th |
| Citizens Bank 400 | Michigan | Ragan | 21st | Ragan | 21st | Menard | 12th |
| Toyota/Save Mart 350 | Infineon | Montoya | 1st | Montoya | 1st | Montoya | 1st |
| Lenox Industrial Tools 300 | New Hampshire | Menard | 39th | Reutimann | 38th | Ragan | 15th |
| Pepsi 400 | Daytona | Reutimann | 26th | Ragan | 12th | Ragan | 12th |
| USG Sheetrock 400 | Chicagoland | Menard | 42nd | Ragan | 25th | Montoya | 15th |
| Allstate 400 at the Brickyard | Indianapolis | Montoya | 2nd | Montoya | 2nd | Montoya | 2nd |
| Pennsylvania 500 | Pocono | Ragan | 33rd | Montoya | 16th | Montoya | 16th |
| Centurion Boats at the Glen | Watkins Glen | Montoya | 39th | Montoya | 39th | Fellows | 4th |
| 3M Performance 400 | Michigan | Reutimann | 23rd | Ragan | 18th | Ragan | 18th |

Season Score: Tony 5, Readers 6