As Jimmie Johnson turned to make his move on Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brian Vickers went with him, except he wasn’t fully clear of Johnson as he tried to draft behind him. The two touched, Johnson turned into Junior, and a last-lap melee ensued at the front of the pack. It was a wreck which Vickers was able to drive straight through to claim his first Nextel Cup win.
In 2006, most of the No. 78 team’s 17 successful qualifying attempts came on intermediate tracks. Kenny Wallace had to make the race on speed all season in underfunded and underpowered equipment with a first-year team; given this, those 17 starts were not a terrible total.
Ironically, the high point of the season for Tony Stewart came late in the year, when he won three races during the playoffs after getting knocked out of Chase contention during the last race of the regular season.
David Stremme did manage to break the top 15 on a few occasions. He finished 11th in the Lenox Industrial Tools 300 at New Hampshire in July, then ended the year on a strong note with another 11th at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Frontstretch, one of the fastest growing sites on the internet for NASCAR news and commentary, is pleased to welcome veteran NASCAR writer Matt McLaughlin to their roster of talented writers for the 2007 season. McLaughlin, who became part of the Fronstretch family beginning on January 1st, is familiar to many fans who have been reading this often outspoken columnist since he began writing about the sport in 1997.
Earning the third starting spot for the prestigious Daytona 500 with a Duel win, Elliott Sadler went on to lead five laps in the race before crossing the finish line in fourth spot. Amazingly, what began as a strong top-five weekend to start out the year would turn out to be Sadler’s best finish of the season.
Ken Schrader and company had their moments, and a nice run at Richmond in September was one of those bright spots. The No. 21 Ford ran in the top 10 all night long, eventually winding up finishing the race in the seventh position.
At Michigan in June, threatening weather caused crew chief Jimmy Elledge to make a late gamble, forcing Reed Sorenson to stay out on worn tires to try and steal the win. While the plan didn’t work to a T, Sorenson still came across the line in fifth place by the time the skies opened up on lap 129, giving him what would turn out to be his best finish of the year.
Kyle Petty’s best finish on the year was an eighth at Bristol in the spring, but the high point of the season might have come after he fought his way back into the Top 35 in owner points to end the season after falling approximately 100 points behind Sterling Marlin’s team.
Tony Raines managed to keep Bill Saunders, owner of the No. 96 car, high enough in owner points to guarantee the team would make the race each week.