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Tony Lumbis

Rating the Nextel Cup Rookies: 2007 Sharp Aquos 500 at Fontana Edition

*Rookies in the Starting Lineup:* A.J.Allmendinger (18th), Paul Menard (20th), David Reutimann (28th), David Ragan (33rd), Aric Almirola (40th), Juan Pablo Montoya (42nd) *Unofficial Finishing Positions:* David Ragan (12th), A.J.Allmendinger (18th), Paul Menard (24th), Aric Almirola (31st), David Reutimann (32nd) Juan Pablo Montoya (33rd) *Rookie of the Race: David Ragan.* After starting a dismal 33rd, David Ragan slowly made his way into the Top 10 by Lap 104. The AAA team would experience a "yo-yo" type of night for the rest of the race, dropping as low as 36th after a pit road speeding penalty, before coming home in 12th position. Saturday night's finish marked Ragan's sixth Top 15 finish of 2007 and his tenth top rookie finish of the season.

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Mirror Driving: No Bristol Bumps, Villeneuve Takes His Lumps, And Can AT&T Get Back Over The Hump?

*With the Chase drama all but played out with two races to go, were drivers at Bristol playing it a little too conservative? Rate how you felt the track did in its first Cup effort since the repaving, and whether we'll actually have any drama left in the regular season come Richmond.* Amy: I thought it was great as far as the track was concerned-there were two grooves, and they tried to make it three a few times. Mike: I thought the race was great. I thought three wide at Bristol was awesome. Beth: It wasn't too bad...it was just different. Tom: Frankly, I think all this stuff about boring racing is due more to the Car Of Tomorrow and the Chase than anything else.

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Nextel Cup Rookie Report: 2007 Sharpie 500 at Bristol Edition

*Rookies in the Starting Lineup:* Juan Pablo Montoya (2nd), David Ragan (4th), Aric Almirola (35th), Paul Menard (41st), A.J. Allmendinger (43rd) *Unofficial Finishing Positions:* Juan Pablo Montoya (17th), Paul Menard (24th), A.J. Allmendinger (35th), Aric Almirola (36th), David Ragan (41st) *Rookie of the Race: Juan Pablo Montoya.* For the second time in the past five races, Montoya qualified his Texaco Havoline Dodge on the outside of the front row; but this time, more than a few eyebrows were raised. While qualifying second at Indy was impressive, the Colombian had made huge strides towards conquering his hardest challenge to date; transitioning to stock cars on tracks less than a mile long.

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Beyond The Cockpit: David Reutimann at the 2007 Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono

_David Reutimann knows all too well what it feels like to be on a roller coaster. The first-year driver from Michael Waltrip Racing has experienced the ups and downs of Nextel Cup racing harder than most everyone this year, going through the nervewracking procedure each Friday of attempting to qualify for races on time...not provisionals. When Reutimann HAS cracked the starting field, he's had to deal with the gremlins of mechanical failure and rookie mistakes, all of which have taken their toll on a new Toyota team working hard to catch up to the rest of the pack. But having made six consecutive races on speed (P.J. Jones drove the No. 00 at Watkins Glen), it's clear the Burger King Camry is heading in the right direction - and a lot of that has to do with the way one of NASCAR's brightest future talents has conducted himself behind the wheel._ _Our Tony Lumbis talked with Reutimann during the Pocono race weekend about how he's handled the nerves of Friday afternoons at the track, which Waltrip is the funniest, and why his program on the Busch side is having far more success than his Cup effort to date._ Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch.com: *In many ways, you've been the face of Michael Waltrip Racing on the track this season, qualifying for more races than both of your teammates to this point. What do you contribute your success to?* David Reutimann: Ya know, I've been asked that a lot, and I really don't have any answers. I mean, both those guys are good qualifiers (teammates Dale Jarrett and Michael Waltrip)...I just think that my guys are doing a really great job. (Crew chief) Frankie Kerr has been doing a good job getting the cars set up for me.

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Mirror Driving: Juan Pablo Montoya The Bully, Bonus Points, Silly! And Why No One’s Watching TV

*Kevin Harvick refused to back off comments about Juan Pablo Montoya's aggressive driving after Sunday's race, wreck...and fight. Is this the first of a long line of drivers we'll see standing up to the Colombian, or was Harvick out of line for what he said? How long do you think we'll see this rivalry linger?* Tony: There are a lot of incidents where drivers had the right to be angry at Montoya this year…but this wasn't one of them. I'm glad Montoya stuck up for himself. He knew exactly what happened, and used it to his advantage. Amy: But Harvick was out of line from the minute he parked in front of Montoya. Frankly, they were _both_ out of line for getting out of the cars and going anywhere but the ambulance or the rescue guys. Tommy: But Harvick is a little bit of a bully...and the best way to deal with a bully is to meet him head on. Beth: I agree that Harvick was out of line...but all he knew was that Montoya hit him. There are better ways to handle it, though.

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Nextel Cup Rookie Report: 2007 Centurion Boats at the Glen Edition

*Rookies in the Starting Lineup (Due to inclimate weather, The Centurion Boats at the Glen lineup was set according to 2007 owners points):* Regan Smith (10th), Juan Pablo Montoya (18th), David Ragan (22nd), Ron Fellows (26th), Paul Menard (31st), Patrick Carpentier (40th), P.J. Jones (41st) *Unofficial Finishing Positions:* Ron Fellows (4th), Paul Menard (19th), Patrick Carpentier (22nd), P.J. Jones (25th), David Ragan (32nd), Regan Smith (37th), Juan Pablo Montoya (39th) *Rookie of the Race: Ron Fellows.* It was definitely an up and down day for Canada's favorite road course driver as Ron Fellows was tapped by Hall of Fame Racing to drive their entry for the second time this year. Starting back in the 26th position by virtue of team owner points, Fellows methodically moved his way up to 12th place just before the race's halfway point.

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Beyond The Cockpit: Paul Menard at the 2007 Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono

_When Dale Earnhardt, Incorporated expanded to four teams this season, it wasn't the first time this year they were dealing with a new addition to their stable. Back in February, 26-year-old Paul Menard and the No. 15 Chevrolet were added to the fold. Back then, there was no merger involved...just a natural progression to the big leagues after lots of hard work to get there. Menard certainly paid his dues over a three-year stretch in the Busch Series to earn the right to campaign for Rookie Of The Year in Nextel Cup. With a win at Milwaukee last season, Menard finished sixth in the standings - the highest of any full-time Busch Series driver - no small feat in a world where Buschwackers reign supreme._ _Carrying sponsorship from his father's company, Menards home improvement stores, the No. 15 team appeared well-equipped to be the main challenger to Juan Pablo Montoya for rookie honors this season. Instead, it's been a struggle for Menard and company - six DNQs in the first 21 races have left him a distant third in the standings behind both Montoya and David Ragan. But with the acquisition of Ginn Racing two weeks ago - and the automatic qualifying exemption that came with it - DEI has appeared to breathe new life into the No. 15 program. With a new crew chief in Dave Charpentier and a greater focus on race-ready setup, the team appears primed and ready to make a significant late-season improvement._ _Tony Lumbis sat down with Menard on Friday at Pocono Raceway to discuss the young driver's season-to-date, how the merger has affected his perception of DEI's future, and how Teresa Earnhardt is a far different person than people might think._ Tony Lumbis, Frontstretch: *The Ginn/D.E.I. merger marks the coming together of two enormous organizations. How has that been going so far?* Paul Menard: It's been really good. I got to go to the new shop (last) Monday and look it over, and the place is huge. There's definitely enough floor space for four teams to all be on the same floor. All of it is (out) in the open, so everybody knows what everybody's got. Obviously, we've got the points and that's huge (referring to his team taking over the No. 14 team's owner points). Now, we can just focus on going racing, and with Mark Martin helping us out, there's definitely nobody in the garage area with more knowledge and more experience than Mark to help a young guy like myself out.

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Nextel Cup Rookie Report: 2007 Pennsylvania 500 Edition

*Rookies in the Starting Lineup:* Juan Pablo Montoya (9th), P.J. Jones (30th)*, David Reutimann (31st), Paul Menard (35th), David Ragan (36th) *Unofficial Finishing Positions:* Juan Pablo Montoya (16th), Paul Menard (26th), David Ragan (33rd), P.J. Jones (37th)*, David Reutimann (41st) *Rookie of the Race: Juan Pablo Montoya.* After qualifying his Dodge Charger on the outside of row four for Sunday's race, it appeared that Montoya was poised to have another strong run following his second place finish at Indianapolis. In fact, Montoya _did_ look strong throughout the first quarter of the race, remaining in or just outside of the Top 10. But as the race wore on, so did Montoya's attention span, as at one point he made a remark about how long the race was. Struggling to keep his No. 42 machine on the bottom, the Rookie of the Year points leader began to fade, and he eventually wound up 16th in the final running order. Still, it was Montoya's tenth top finishing rookie honor in the 2007 season - leading all first-year drivers in that category.

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Mirror Driving: Swearing Off NASCAR’s Bull…Well, You Know, Merger Mayhem, and Toyota On Top?

*Tony Stewart's slip of the tongue on TV didn't just cost him money...along with a $25,000 fine, 25 championship points were deducted. Is it wrong for drivers to lose championship points for over-the-line statements to the media?* Cami: Not if it's a true over-the-line statement. But I don't think that was over the line. It was cable, for F's sake! Vito: Depends on the context. Junior's was more of an innocent slip of the tongue…Tony's was more pointed, I felt. NASCAR also needs to be consistent with the precedent they started in 2004, so that's why this happened. Tony seems to be cool with it...so as far as I'm concerned, I don't think it's that big of a deal. I just kind of wish they'd leave points out of it and just fine them money.

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Rating The Nextel Cup Rookies: 2007 Brickyard 400 Edition

*Rookies in the Starting Lineup*: Juan Pablo Montoya (2nd), Paul Menard (28th), David Ragan (30th), David Reutimann (34th). *Unofficial Finishing Positions*: Juan Pablo Montoya (2nd), David Ragan (16th), Paul Menard (20th), David Reutimann (38th). *Rookie of the Race*: Juan Pablo Montoya. When Montoya qualified his Texaco Havoline Dodge on the outside of the front row for the Allstate 400 at The Brickyard, he accomplished more than simply securing his best career starting spot. Making his first start in a stock car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Montoya made history before the race even began - he's now the first driver in the famed race track's history to start in all three major series to run there (Indy Racing League, Formula One, and NASCAR). His experience showed on Sunday, as the No. 42 car was a mainstay in the Top 5 for much of the event; the car was strongest late in the race, and Montoya wound up battling Kevin Harvick in the latter stages to come home in second place. It was the ninth time in 2007 that the former open wheel star finished as the race's top performing rookie.

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