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Bubble Breakdown: Bill Elliott Gets Wood Brothers Back in Top 35; Dave Blaney, Toyota Fall Out

Hot temperatures and consistently high rpms took its toll on a number of engines Sunday night in California. The heat’s biggest victim came when Dave Blaney‘s motor expired on lap 201, allowing the No. 21 Wood Brothers team the opportunity to jump back into the Top 35. This secured Bill Elliott a spot in the field next week in Richmond. The two teams have shuffled back and forth numerous times in the past month, with neither team capitalizing on the benefit of a guaranteed spot.

The race for the final bubble position grew to four teams last weekend with Johnny Sauter and Kyle Petty falling into the clutches of 35th. See just how much breathing room these teams have, as well how close the No. 22 is to the No. 21 in this weeks edition of the Bubble Breakdown:

Biggest Mover(s)

All Elliott had to do when Blaney’s engine let go was maintain his position and he would be sitting pretty as far as the bubble position is concerned. Elliott did just that, finishing 26th, giving him a narrow four-point lead over Blaney. Elliott was the highest finishing of the four cars in the Top-35 picture and is now just 52 points behind both Sauter and Petty.

Elliott (No. 21): Finished 26th; moved from 36th to 35th in car owner points.

Honorable Mention:

Petty (No. 45): Petty is in a two-car battle with the No. 70 of Sauter for the 34th spot. Petty finished two spots better than Sauter this week, putting him in a tie for 33rd and 34th.

Finished 28th; Moved from 34th to 33rd in car owner points.

Biggest Loser

Sauter’s 30th-place finish was enough to keep him from falling much closer to the 35th position, but it wasn’t enough to fend off the challenge of the No. 45. Sauter is now tied with Petty and just one bad finish from falling in the grasp of both the No. 21 and No. 22. Keep in mind that Sauter and Petty are even, but my money is on the No. 45 in Richmond.

Sauter (No. 70): Finished 30th; fell from 33rd to 34th in car owner points.

Tracking Toyota

It was a strong day for the Red Bull Racing team with Brian Vickers and AJ Allmendinger each recording strong top-20 runs, but the main storyline out of the Toyota camp on Sunday night was the scary crash by Michael Waltrip. Waltrip blew a tire that resulted in a cut oil line that exploded into flames. Fire shot into the car before the No. 55 came to rest and Waltrip was extracted from the car.

Before an accident ended his day, David Reutimann was in position for a career finish with a top-10 car. Reutimann wound up finishing 32nd, but the rookie got the television time he deserved before the crash. Toyota – the No. 83 Red Bull team in particular – seems to have the 2-mile ovals figured out, as Vickers also ran strong at Michigan.

Top-Three Finishing Toyotas

Vickers: Finished eighth
Allmendinger: Finished 18th
Reutimann: Finished 32nd

Breaking Down the Bubble

Pos Owner Car # Driver Points Points +/- of 35th Place (No. 13 is ineligible)
31 Haas CNC Racing 66 Jeff Green 2,105 +237
32 Robert Yates Racing 88 Ricky Rudd 2,017 +149
33 Petty Enterprises 45 Kyle Petty 1,920 +52
34 Haas CNC Racing 70 Johnny Sauter 1,920 +52
35 Wood Brothers 21 Bill Elliott 1,868 0
36 Bill Davis Racing 22 Dave Blaney 1,864 -4
37 Evernham Motorsports 10 Scott Riggs 1,700 -168
38 Red Bull Racing 83 Brian Vickers 1,620 -248
39 Michael Waltrip Racing 00 David Reutimann 1,440 -428
40 Michael Waltrip Racing 44 Dale Jarrett 1,222 -646
41 Morgan-McClure Motorsports 4 Ward Burton 1,214 -654
42 Bill David Racing 36 Jeremy Mayfield 1,141 -727
43 Furniture Row Racing 78 Kenny Wallace 1,049 -819
44 Michael Waltrip Racing 55 Michael Waltrip 1,044 -824

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