It’s tough to find a bright spot in a season full of difficult headlines; but if there was indeed one for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Budweiser Chevy, it might have been the Pocono race in August.
After losing his cool and hitting the wall during Saturday night’s Busch Series race in Kentucky, Carl Edwards arrived at MIS in the wee hours of Sunday morning with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. However, his good friend and crew chief, Bob Osborne, sat the driver down and said to put the whole thing behind him. Edwards did just that.
Kyle Busch won the spring contest at Bristol, after Jeff Burton chose not to nudge him out of the way en route to the checkered flag. That same weekend, Busch led 89 laps during the Busch Series event en route to a third-place finish.
In the 13 races before the Chase began, Kurt Busch turned his season around, scoring two wins and seven top-10 finishes to work his way up to 11th in points – just in time for the start of the Chase.
Jeff Burton’s six finishes of sixth or better through the season’s first seven races kept him among the top three in the points standings through the end of April.
After starting 40th in the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, Ward Burton came on strong, finishing on the lead lap in 14th position. It was a wise decision by the team to have their best run of the season at a track that pays well.
The only driver to make the playoffs without a win in the regular season, Clint Bowyer quickly corrected that issue by dominating New Hampshire in September.
It took almost eight months, but Toyota’s best hope heading into ’07 finally flexed its muscle in October. Coming up a surprising third at the fall race at Talladega, Dave Blaney followed up that performance with a sixth-place finish at Lowe’s, contending throughout the race in both events.
Mired deep in the points standings for much of 2007, BAM Racing qualified for 10 of the final 14 races with John 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.
AJ Allmendinger didn’t enjoy many of the highs he hoped for as a rookie on the Nextel Cup circuit, but there were a few golden nuggets in ’07 for the former Champ Car driver.