NASCAR Race Weekend Central
If you don't think those drivers fighting to get - or remain - inside the Top 35 in car owner points are feeling any pressure with eight races remaining... think again. Kyle Petty's obvious frustration towards Denny Hamlin following a lap 204 crash was without a doubt the expression of a disappointed driver trying hard to hold his spot in the field... not only for now, but ultimately for the first five races of 2008. The accident that ended Petty's day drops the No. 45 team to just one point away from the 35th and final guaranteed starting position, leaving them more vulnerable than they've been in quite sometime.

Bubble Breakdown: Kyle Petty Fading, Feeling Pressure of Top 35

If you don’t think those drivers fighting to get – or remain – inside the Top 35 in car owner points are feeling any pressure with eight races remaining… think again. Kyle Petty‘s obvious frustration towards Denny Hamlin following a lap 204 crash was without a doubt the expression of a disappointed driver trying hard to hold his spot in the field… not only for now, but ultimately for the first five races of 2008. The accident that ended Petty’s day drops the No. 45 team to just one point away from the 35th and final guaranteed starting position, leaving them more vulnerable than they’ve been in quite sometime.

To see who Petty is trying to fend off in the Top-35 battle, check out this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown:

Storylines from Dover

Where’s the No. 22?

Over the past month, it’s been the No. 21 and No. 22 teams jockeying for that 35th and final spot, but for the first time in that span, the car 36th in owner points couldn’t make the race on time and was sent home. When Dave Blaney failed to put the No. 22 in the show, the No. 21 was guaranteed to at least remain in the Top 35 and Ken Schrader did what he needed to do, fighting back from an early spin to finish a respectable 26th.

The gap between No. 21 (35th) and No. 22 (36th) – grew from 19 to 105 points.

What’s up with Petty?

Frustration, frustration, frustration. The No. 45 has been free-falling over the past five races, and now the margin between them and the 35th spot is just one point. This is now the closest Petty has been to the bubble position… and he knows it. The frustration simply got the best of him following the Hamlin incident, and the rest is history. While video of the dispute will almost certainly be on newsreels throughout the week, I hope NASCAR turns a cheek and lets it go – it was simply a disagreement between two drivers under a lot of pressure to perform. No harm, no foul.

BOWLES: PETTY, HAMLIN FAIL TO TAKE HIGH ROAD AT DOVER

Return of Jon Wood at Kansas

Wood competed in the Cup race earlier this year in Las Vegas before fading into obscurity. The next-generation driver was scheduled to both run the full Busch schedule and compete in numerous Cup races in the No. 21, but was sidelined with a health condition for several months, eventually returning to the Craftsman Truck Series this summer. Now, he’s scheduled to make his return this week at Kansas, driving a second No. 47 Ford for the Wood Brothers, as they trust Bill Elliott with the job of keeping the No. 21 in the Top 35. It’s also being rumored that Wood and Busch regular Marcos Ambrose will split the No. 21 seat in 2008.

Tracking Toyota

It was a great week for the Camry this week, with three Toyotas finishing in the top 20. Surprisingly, the brigade was led by Michael Waltrip, who has missed more races than he has made this year, but he ran a solid race on Sunday, coming home 15th. Red Bull driver Brian Vickers continues to run strong, posting a 16th-place finish, while David Reutimann was the final Toyota to crack the top 20, continuing what’s been an impressive second half of the season. On the flip side, Dale Jarrett and AJ Allmendinger both went to the garage before halfway, putting promising qualifying efforts to waste.

Top-Three Finishing Toyotas

Waltrip (No. 55) – Finished 15th
Vickers (No. 83) – Finished 16th
Reutimann (No. 00) – Finished 18th

Breaking Down the Bubble

Pos Owner Car # Driver Points Points +/- of 35th Place
31 Haas CNC Racing 66 Jeff Green 2,321 +214
32 Robert Yates Racing 88 Ricky Rudd/Kenny Wallace 2,251 +144
33 Haas CNC Racing 70 Johnny Sauter 2,191 +84
34 Petty Enterprises 45 Kyle Petty 2,108 +1
35 Wood Brothers 21 Ken Schrader/Bill Elliott 2,107 0
36 Bill Davis Racing 22 Dave Blaney 2,002 -105
37 Evernham Motorsports 10 Scott Riggs 1,871 -236
38 Red Bull Racing 83 Brian Vickers 1,860 -247
39 Michael Waltrip Racing 00 David Reutimann 1,758 -349
40 Michael Waltrip Racing 44 Dale Jarrett 1,363 -744
41 Morgan-McClure Motorsports 4 Ward Burton 1,310 -797
42 Furniture Row Racing 78 Joe Nemechek 1,256 -851
43 Michael Waltrip Racing 55 Michael Waltrip 1,220 -887
44 Bill Davis Racing 36 Jeremy Mayfield 1,185 -922
45 Team Red Bull 84 AJ Allmendinger 1,138 -969
46 BAM Racing 49 John Andretti 1,116 -991

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The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.