NASCAR Race Weekend Central

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.

Bubble Breakdown: Brian Vickers Swap Pays Off for Team Red Bull with Final Locked-In Spot

Heading into the final event, Michael Waltrip Racing’s No. 47 now driven by Marcos Ambrose was clinging to a 17-point edge over the Team Red Bull No. 84 Toyota. In an effort to get back into the Top 35, TRB tried to get Mark Martin to drive their Toyota in the Ford 400 – but that plan went by the wayside when the manufacturer couldn’t agree on a deal with GM. So instead, Team Red Bull swapped drivers within its own organization, putting veteran teammate Brian Vickers into the No. 84 entry in an attempt to get back into the Top 35. To see if their plan paid off – as well as who took the last spot in the Bud Shootout – check out this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown.

Bubble Breakdown: Marcos Ambrose Cuts Margin in Half for Final Top-35 Slot

NASCAR’s thundering herd of 43 invaded the Lone Star State this past Sunday for the second time in 2008. At this point in the season the field is pretty much divided into three groups. One group is running for the championship, one group is running to get into or stay in the Top 35 for 2009, and the other group is just running laps. And while many of the experts have already anointed Jimmie Johnson as this year’s champion, the race for a Top-35 locked in spot for 2009 is now tighter than a pair of Speedos on Jimmy Spencer. So with that stunning image fresh in your mind, read on to find out who’s locked in, who’s locked out, and who’s still fighting for a spot in the Top 35 in this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown.

Bubble Breakdown: Several Teams Miss Opportunity to Lock Down Top 35 For ’09

There’s an old saying that Hell hath no fury like that of a ‘Dinger scorned, or something to that affect anyways. And for the second straight week AJ Allmendinger drove like a man on a mission right from the drop of the checkered flag. A mission is what he needs to be on if he wants to drive Gillett Evernham’s No. 10 Dodge into the Top 35 before the checkered flag flies over Homestead in a month’s time. For the second week in a row, AJ drove his Dodge from the back to the front and posted another top-15 run. But did he make any measurable gains in his quest for a Top-35 locked-in spot? Read on to find out in this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown.

Bubble Breakdown: Michael Waltrip & Scott Riggs Continue Push Into Top 35

Martinsville, Virginia played host to NASCAR’s field of 43 this past Sunday for the running of the Tums QuikPak 500. The half-mile paperclip-shaped oval makes for some exciting beating and banging throughout the event. If you ever questioned how tough this track was, NASCAR veteran Kurt Busch came on his radio three quarters of the way through the event, crying that he wanted to park his car and go home because he was afraid he may get hurt. Now if a veteran struggles like that, just imagine how tough it was for a rookie like Scott Speed, making his NASCAR debut!

Bubble Breakdown: Scott Riggs, Michael Waltrip Securing Spots for Their Teams in Top 35

Lowe’s Motor Speedway was the venue Saturday night in Charlotte, North Carolina, for the running of the Bank of America 500. With just six races remaining in the ’08 season, the bubble teams should now look at each race as a qualifying attempt for next year’s Daytona 500. Struggling teams have trouble finding funding, and without a locked-in spot for the 2009 Daytona 500, or the next four races after it for that matter, attracting good sponsorship in a slow economy can be next to impossible. But don’t take my word for it; just give a call to the guys at Morgan-McClure Motorsports and ask them.

Bubble Breakdown: Scott Riggs, Robby Gordon Post Top-10 Triumphs at ‘Dega

Not only is Talladega Superspeedway the “wild card” in the Chase for the Cup, it’s also the wildcard in the Chase for the Top 35. ‘Dega has been defined by the big wreck that everyone knows is coming at some point, and a bubble team can make up an enormous amount of points by missing the Big One that eats up a large number of their competitors. Add in the fact that this is an impound race, and it makes for a sleepless weekend for a team’s crew chief. Teams outside the Top 35 set their cars up to qualify, not race, resulting in many bubble teams starting up front. That does not, however, mean they’re gonna finish there. To see which teams were able to translate good starting positions into top finishes, read on for this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown:

Bubble Breakdown: AJ Allmendinger Shines in Possible Team Red Bull Finale

As NASCAR headed to Kansas this past Sunday, the big news from the bubble teams left many scratching their heads, as Team Red Bull is about to let AJ Allmendinger go. According to the driver himself, he’s “almost 100% sure he’ll be out of the car after Kansas” after turning down a one-year deal to remain with the team in 2009. Yet even in the midst of such a tough situation, Allmendinger still found time to leave his team a parting gift. What was it, exactly, and how did the other fellow bubble dwellers fare in the Midwest? Read on to find out in this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown.

Bubble Breakdown: Michael Waltrip Gives Himself Top-35 Breathing Room with 2nd Top-10 Finish of 2008

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series made their second appearance at Dover International Speedway Sunday amidst rumors of bubble drivers wrecking each other in order to stay in the Top 35… and there is some evidence to back that up. With crashes involving Michael McDowell and AJ Allmendinger on several different occasions, the Chase for a “locked-in” qualifying spot seems just as heated as the Chase for the Cup these days… if not more so. With tempers on the rise, which bubble drivers survived the Monster Mile and which didn’t? Read on to find out in this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown…

Bubble Breakdown: Michael McDowell, AJ Allmendinger Tangle Costly in Top-35 Race

As NASCAR’s top teams began their chase for the cup Sunday at New Hampshire, the bubble teams continued their quest for a Top-35 spot in the owner standings. The numbers of teams fighting to either get into or stay in the Top 35 has been pretty much narrowed down to seven, as just 87 points separated 31st from 37th in the owner standings heading into the Sylvania 300. Read on to see who stepped up and who stumbled Sunday afternoon.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from