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.
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.
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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