NASCAR Race Weekend Central

2007 Driver Review: John Andretti

John Andretti
2007 Ride: No. 49 BAM Racing Dodge
2007 Primary Sponsors: Paralyzed Veterans of America, Obovo.com, Lifelock, Zoneloans.com
2007 Owner: Beth Ann Morganthau
2007 Crew Chief: Dean Johnson

Stats: 15 races, zero wins, zero top fives, zero top 10s, 49th in points.

High Point: Mired deep in the points standings for much of 2007, BAM Racing qualified for 10 of the final 14 races with Andretti behind the wheel. However, his best finish of the year came at Chicagoland behind the wheel of the No. 45 Petty Enterprises Dodge, the final start in a five-race stint where he subbed for driver-turned TNT broadcaster Kyle Petty. Andretti started the race ninth and finished 18th on the lead lap, giving the team a much-needed boost during a year of constant struggle.

Low Point: Making it to the end of the race has been a real issue since Andretti signed on with the No. 49 team in August. In his 10 starts driving the car to date, he failed to finish six events; three were due to mechanical failures and three due to crashes. What makes matters worse, Andretti was running in the top 20 before those mishaps on more than one occasion; and as the icing on the cake, three of them occurred in the last 100 laps of the race. When it rains, it pours…

Summary: Starting a total of 15 events this season, this was the most action Andretti saw on the Cup circuit since 2003 – but extra opportunity didn’t necessarily yield better results. Andretti recorded DNFs in eight of his 15 starts this year, resulting in an average finishing position of 34th place. He finished on the lead lap just twice and led just two laps all year (at Fontana in September). However, Andretti appeared to find a home with tiny BAM Racing, qualifying for 10 of 14 events while stabilizing a team that had a driver merry-go-round all season. The team still wound up 47th in the owner standings – but that’s right where you expect a single-car team with limited sponsorship to wind up. Before hooking up with BAM, Andretti had his best runs of the year while filling in for Petty in the No. 45 Dodge – a limited reunion with the organization he was a part of for nearly a decade.

2008 Outlook: Andretti is slated to return to the No. 49 Dodge for the upcoming 2008 Sprint Cup season. Sponsorship for the team has yet to be announced; an innovative plan calls for up to 5,000 associate sponsors to be placed on the car at a cost of $5,000 apiece. Crew chief Dean Johnson is expected to return, and owner Beth Ann Morganthau is anticipating stability for a team that has suffered through a number of changes since Ken Schrader left the team at the end of 2005. Upside is limited when it comes to a single-car effort; but Andretti showed this team has the potential to at least take the green on Sundays. How much further they’ll go beyond that is anyone’s guess.

2006 Frontstretch Grade: N/A
2007 Grade: C-

Editor’s Note: The 2007 season is over, and even the Final Chase exam has come to a close – which means it’s time to give each driver their annual year-end evaluation. For the second straight year, your favorite Frontstretch staff members are giving driver reviews for every full-time wheelman on the circuit, giving you insight into the seasons of anyone from AJ Allmendinger to JJ Yeley.

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