NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Bubble Breakdown: On Groundbreaking Weekend, Teams on Top-35 Bubble Attempt Breaking Away From the Pack

The Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta may have made history at the front of the field — with Toyota claiming the first victory for a foreign-born manufacturer since 1954 — but it also featured a number of drivers trying to prevent history of a different sort at the rear. With just one race remaining before 2008 owner points are used to “lock in” provisional spots, those on the dreaded bubble were trying hard to avoid any sort of Atlanta pitfall which would leave them on the wrong side of the cutline. With Bristol up ahead, the unpredictability of a half-mile short track makes it the highest-stress event on the circuit for a team that has to snag a good finish; so for most teams Sunday, the goal was to put the bubble out of reach of even the worst Bristol disaster.

10 Points to Ponder After the 2008 UAW-Dodge 400 at Las Vegas

1. No Way, Daddy-0h! – The legendary Wood Brothers No. 21 Ford did not qualify for the UAW-Dodge 400 on speed last Friday. Instead, their chances hit a wall — literally — when Johnny Sauter wrecked the car coming out of turn 2. The single-car team, outside the Top 35 in owner points, has now failed to make the starting lineup for two of the first three NASCAR Sprint Cup races. Jon Wood, who is the grandson of legendary Wood Brothers Racing founder Glen Wood and the son of Wood Brothers Racing co-Owner Eddie Wood, had been scheduled to take the wheel at Las Vegas, but backed out at the last minute, stating that he “wasn’t ready.”

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2008 Preview Edition

The last time we were in Florida for a race, Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team were basking in a sea of confetti after winning their second consecutive Sprint Cup title at Homestead-Miami Speedway. A lot has changed since that historic day in November; there’s been a powerful addition to the Toyota camp, and the sport’s most popular driver debuted with Johnson’s organization in convincing fashion during Saturday’s Budweiser Shootout. Those are just two of a number of storylines and questions heading into 2008 — some will have to wait to be answered, while some may be answered here.

Running Their Mouth: 2008 Bud Shootout at Daytona

Welcome to the first 2008 edition of Running Their Mouth! 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 Bud Shootout at Daytona International Speedway.

Bubble Breakdown: Bill Davis In, Wood Brothers Out; Top 35 Locked in for 2008

Dave Blaney not only held onto the final bubble position, he made a statement, carrying the Toyota banner once again with a solid 13th-place finish. It was the team’s best run in over a month and moved them above the No. 45 – who clinched a spot in the Top 35 last week at Phoenix – into 34th in car owner points. To see who locked up a spot for the first five races of 2008 – as well as a recap of what happened around the Top 35 in 2007 – check out this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown.

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not: Outside the Chase after the 2007 Dickies 500 at Texas

The Lone Star State proved a lonely place for drivers out of the playoffs Sunday, as nine Chase drivers finished the race in the top 11. One by one, some of the best hopes to sneak an upset win at Texas crashed themselves out of contention, showing instead why this wasn’t the year they proved capable of challenging for that championship trophy. But amidst the smoke of an ugly day for this large group of underdogs, some longtime veterans kept up steady streaks that left them leaving with a Texas-sized smile.

Bubble Breakdown: Accident Claims Bill Elliott, Kyle Petty; Boosts Dave Blaney in Top-35 Race

This was supposed to be the time of year the battle for a “locked-in” spot for the first five races of 2008 heated up in Nextel Cup. In fact, this was supposed to be the time that the Top-35 battle was just as intense as the Chase. But with just two races now remaining, it appears that the 35th and final spot will be all but secured heading into Homestead, after a lap 129 accident ended any hope of a good run for the team currently 36th in owner points, the No. 21 of Bill Elliott.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

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