Bubble Breakdown

Bubble Breakdown: Sam Hornish Jr. Rips Off First Top 10 of 2009, Solidifies Locked-In Spot

Bad news has hit one of our bubble teams since the last race at Texas. After several patchwork sponsorship deals to keep the team afloat through March, the No. 8 Chevrolet driven by Aric Almirola has been shut down due to a lack of funding. Earnhardt Ganassi Racing plans to bring everyone back once sponsorship is found, but with the car sitting outside the Top 35, sponsors aren’t really lining up to throw money at them. Despite that disappointment, there was also plenty of good news coming out of Phoenix, too. Several teams sitting outside the Top 35 posted top-10 qualifying performances, while another one fighting to stay inside it actually managed to finish there. So, read on to see who’s moving up and who’s moving in the opposite direction in this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown:

Read More »

Bubble Breakdown: Paul Menard Showing Signs of Life While Joey Logano Remains Lifeless

Optimism ran rampant amongst several bubble drivers this weekend as Paul Menard, Sam Hornish Jr., and Joey Logano all posted top-12 qualifying runs. But qualifying pays no points and Texas is a big, fast, nasty track that some of the best drivers have yet to master. So, as the race began questions loomed for those with solid starts – would Logano finally break through with a great finish? Would Menard continue his success at Texas? Would Hornish run a race and not hit anything? For the answers to these questions as well as who’s in and who’s out of the Top 35, read on for this week's edition of the Bubble Breakdown.

Read More »

Bubble Breakdown: Toyota Bubble Teams Struggle Mightily at Martinsville While Menard Sneaks In

The last remnants of the 2008 season have finally been cast by the wayside, as NASCAR now uses this year's owner points in determining who has a guaranteed starting spot and who has to qualify on time. But as the drivers now outside of the Top 35 readied themselves to give it all they had at Martinsville in order to qualify for the race on Friday -- it rained. So, the field was set according to the owner standings, sending the last four cars back to their shops while the top 43 lined up Sunday afternoon. Of the ones that remained, which drivers were able to race their way up into the Top 35 for the first time under the 2009 points standings? Read on in this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown to see who moved up and who dropped out.

Read More »

Bubble Breakdown: David Gilliland Drives TRG’s No. 71 Right Into Top 35

If you remember back to 2008, Jamie McMurray -- a good driver on one of the super teams, Roush Fenway Racing -- was not only sitting on the bubble heading to Bristol, but on the wrong side of it when he left there. It was proof even the best organizations could fall victim to having to qualify on speed. One year later, Ryan Newman and Mark Martin felt that same pressure, needing strong performances from their top-tier organizations to avoid what happened to McMurray last year. Bristol marked the final race using 2008 owner points in determining who has a guaranteed starting spot, as NASCAR’s top series now uses the 2009 owner standings for the remainder of the season. So, did Martin and Newman avoid being the big-name drivers on the outside looking in? And what underdog defied the odds to sneak into the Top 35? Read on to find out as we break down the bubble for the Food City 500 from Bristol Motor Speedway.

Read More »

Bubble Breakdown: TRG Making Miracles With David Gilliland While Mark Martin Just Hanging On

The Kobalt Tools 500 marked the fourth race in the 2009 season, meaning there is just one more event to get into the Top 35 in owner points before NASCAR shifts to this year’s standings to determine who is or isn’t locked into the starting grid each week. This made the race at Atlanta critical for many, as no one wants to have to go to Bristol under pressure to post a stellar finish -- the race in Thunder Valley is one of the more unpredictable races on the circuit. To see which big name teams fell short at AMS and will head to Tennessee a nervous wreck -- as well as which smaller teams have surprised everyone by driving safely into the Top 35 -- read on in this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown.

Read More »

Bubble Breakdown: Paul Menard, Mark Martin Among Those In Early Top-35 Trouble

With three races in the books already in 2009, the battle for the Top 35 locked-in spots is heating up, as there are only two races remaining to secure one of those Top-35 guaranteed starting positions. And when you looked at the starting lineup for the Shelby 427 at Las Vegas Speedway, you saw the names Todd Bodine, Brad Keselowski and Max Papis as new names on the grid. This means several full-time teams didn’t make the field this past weekend, thus digging themselves a deep hole. To see which cars and drivers took a big hit in the standings this past weekend, read on in this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown...

Read More »

Bubble Breakdown: Team Penske Rebounds from Poor Daytona 500 Performances

NASCAR’s top series headed out west to start a two-race stint on the left coast beginning with the first stop of the year at the Auto Club Speedway in California. With this just the second race of the season, the race to get into the Top 35 is a complete mess, with teams jumping way up and falling way down in the standings on a week-to-week basis. And while Matt Kenseth has opened the year with two victories, a pair of teams with guaranteed starting spots has opened up with two finishes outside the Top 35. Read on to see which teams rebounded, and which team dug a deeper hole heading to Las Vegas.

Read More »

Bubble Breakdown: AJ Allmendinger Sticks the Landing While Joey Logano Sticks It in the Wall

The 2009 Sprint Cup season officially kicked off Sunday afternoon with the running of the Daytona 500; and with that, the battle for the Top 35 is on. For those of you new to the sport, the Top 35 teams in owner points are locked into the starting grid each week. For the first five races of the season, NASCAR uses the owner standings from the previous year, then reverts to the current season’s standings from there on out. So while the Top 35 are locked in for the first few races, the jockeying for position has begun with the bubble teams in an effort to transfer into a locked in spot when the series visits Martinsville in a month and a half. Read on to see who improved their position and who is already behind the eight-ball in this week's edition of the Bubble Breakdown.

Read More »

Bubble Breakdown: Sorting Through Who’s Locked In And Locked Out At Daytona

You'd think that over the offseason, it'd be hard for the Top-35 situation to change as no one would be accumulating any more points. But in an offseason filled with teams folding, merging, and selling off their "locked-in" places on the starting grid, the landscape of Who's In and Who's Out looks completely different than it did when I left you back in November. Several teams that were out of the Top 35 after Miami have gained access to automatic spots, while others have seen their points go to different cars within their own teams. It's all enough to leave you more than a little confused. So, without further adieu, let’s clear the air and preview the Top 35 for 2009.

Read More »

Bubble Breakdown Review: Yates Racing Biggest Surprise In Avoiding Top-35 Trouble

The 2008 Sprint Cup tour is now officially in the books. And as with all sports, there were many surprises as well as disappointment throughout the year. So, as the holiday season descends upon us and the thundering of NASCAR’s engines fades away for another offseason, let’s take a moment and look back upon the past 10 months of racing, seeing who among the sport's middle and bottom-tier teams exceeded everyone’s expectations -- and who didn’t quite live up to them.

Read More »