There may have been little change in the Top-35 picture this week as far as positions go – but just 40 laps into the race at Atlanta, the gap between 35th and 36th narrowed substantially. With an eventual “locked-in” spot for the first five races of 2008 on the line, engine problems struck Dave Blaney’s No. 22 on lap 39, bringing out the race’s second caution and moving Bill Elliott and the No. 21 team 56 points closer to the coveted bubble position. To see how close the No. 21 team is to Blaney, check out this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown.
All decade long, we’ve heard such age-old discussion of how NASCAR drivers stack up to the athletic performances of the stick ‘n’ ball sports: Major League Baseball, the NFL, the NHL, and the NBA. You can go back and forth on that question for ages; but in the end, you’ll never be able to test athletes on the same athletic skill that makes them so great. However, there’s another area where direct comparison is readily available; it’s a mode of financial number crunching that goes far beyond physical talent laid out on a track, a football field, or a baseball diamond, one that gives you an idea of just how much one man measures up against another. It’s the checkbook.
Each week, we’ll go through media reports, interviews, PR, and all our own stuff to find the best quotes from the Nextel Cup race, capturing the story of how the weekend unfolded. It’s the most original commentary you’ll ever find: the truth, coming straight out of the mouths of the drivers, crew members, and the car owners themselves. This week, here’s a sneak peek at what a select few were thinking following the Subway 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
October has not been a good month for the Wood Brothers team. It all started back in Talladega, when Ken Schrader tagged the wall following a cut tire; it was a tragic set of circumstances that resulted in the No. 21 car falling out of the Top 35 in owner points. Sadly, that was only the beginning.
It’s been a difficult second half of the season for Dave Blaney and the No. 22 team; they’re busy jockeying for the 35th and final “locked in” spot in car owner points with the No. 21 team and their driver combo of Bill Elliott and Ken Schrader. But last week, Blaney had his best finish of the year, surviving a hairy Talladega race to finish third and build momentum he carried over to the following week at Lowe’s. Finishing sixth, his second consecutive top 10 and his third consecutive top 15 gave the No. 22 some distance from a handful of cars chasing him. Now, for the first time in this stretch of the season, Blaney finally has breathing room, moving into 34th in the standings, 39 points ahead of 35th and a crucial 148 ahead of 36th.
The Chase may have just begun this week in New Hampshire, but the race for the 35th position in owner points has been in full swing all season long… and the gap is getting narrower. The difference between 34th and 36th now stands at just 82 points – and while the Top-35 battle does not garner as much coverage as the top 12, with a potential spot in the 2008 Daytona 500 at stake, it certainly deserves it. Who are the other teams fighting to stay in contention for the 35th and final spot? Check out this week’s new look edition of the Bubble Breakdown.
One week ago, Johnny Sauter was headed straight towards the edge of a cliff. Sauter set the pressure cooker on high by struggling to 30th in Fontana. That disappointing finish dropped the No. 70 into a tie for 34th in car owner points, just 52 ahead of the 35th and final locked in spot and in serious danger of falling out altogether. It was the closest Sauter had been in quite sometime to losing the team’s automatic exemption, and with seven consecutive runs outside the top 20, it was clear that both he and his crew needed a spark.
With only one race remaining before the start of the 2007 Chase for the Nextel Cup, the race for 12th place has all been but decided, with Kevin Harvick needing to only finish 32nd or better to solidify his place in the Championship dash. While the Daytona 500 winner will start the race a whopping 670 points out of first place, he will end it no more than 50 points out of the top spot, courtesy of NASCAR’s new seeding system, awarding 10 bonus points for a win to each driver in the top 12. Which raises a legitimate question: What exactly does a 700-point deficit convey anything remotely related to the term “champion?” Is this what it has come to? “The race for 12th?”
Hot temperatures and consistently high rpms took its toll on a number of engines Sunday night in California. The heat’s biggest victim came when Dave Blaney’s motor expired on lap 201, allowing the No. 21 Wood Brothers team the opportunity to jump back into the Top 35. This secured Bill Elliott a spot in the field next week in Richmond. The two teams have shuffled back and forth numerous times in the past month, with neither team capitalizing on the benefit of a guaranteed spot.
Each week, we’ll go through all the media reports, interviews, PR, and all our own stuff to find the best quotes from the Nextel Cup race and capture the story of how the weekend unfolded. It’s the most original commentary you’ll ever find; the truth, coming straight out of the mouths of the drivers, crew members, and the car owners themselves. This week, here’s a sneak peek at what a select few were thinking following the Sharpie 500 on the newly repaved Bristol Motor Speedway.