NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Bowles-Eye View: News Flash – There Are More Than 12 Drivers & Dale Jr. Racing the Final 10 Races

Effective around 11:30 p.m. on a balmy Saturday night at Richmond, the 2007 Chase for the Nextel Cup officially got underway. As soon as the final two participants – Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch – clinched their spots by crossing the finish line, talk turned from who’s going to get into the elusive 12-car field to who’s going to win it. No doubt, the Chase formed an important storyline Saturday night – Jimmie Johnson’s sixth victory clinched his spot on top of the playoffs by 20 points over the rest of the field. Behind him in Victory Lane, Dale Earnhardt Jr. stood sweating by his hauler, exhausted in his own right but forced to answer countless questions from every media outlet under the sun about how a season filled with promise never pulled a playoff punch. Just like 29 other drivers everyone forgot about.

Bubble Breakdown: Career Run Gives Johnny Sauter Breathing Room In Top-35 Battle

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.

Bubble Breakdown: Bill Elliott Gets Wood Brothers Back in Top 35; Dave Blaney, Toyota Fall Out

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.

Did You Notice? Bristol… And Beyond

Did You Notice? That in the final restarts of Saturday night’s race at Bristol, Carl Edwards had none other than Elliott Sadler – Kasey Kahne’s teammate – lining up beside him on the inside every time. But even though Sadler could have made himself a roadblock – opening the door for second-place Kahne to make a move – he instead bowed out of the way, a remarkable statement of a class for the Virginian who’s had a tough year himself on the Nextel Cup circuit.

Bubble Breakdown: Petty Enterprises Coming Dangerously Close To Top-35 Cliff

The two-car battle for the 35th and final position in owner points is close to becoming a three-team race – and that new third team is a team that’s slumping rather than one stepping up as the season nears its stretch run. While its sister car streaked to a second straight top 10 finish at Bristol, the No. 45 from Petty Enterprises seems to have been left behind. The Dodge continues to struggle each and every week, whether it’s Kyle Petty, Chad McCumbee, or Kenny Wallace behind the wheel – a 32nd-place run for Wallace at Bristol is the team’s best finish in five weeks, with results of 41st, 42nd, 33rd and 41st coming in the previous four races. That has left the team dangerously on the edge of falling into the grasp of teams below them.

Bubble Breakdown: Great Week for Haas CNC… For Now in Top-35 Battle

The Haas CNC Racing entries of Johnny Sauter and Jeff Green have flirted with dropping out of the Top 35 in car owner points for much of the first half of the season. But after a strong run this week in New Hampshire, both teams finally have some breathing room heading to Daytona. Inconsistency has …

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Bubble Breakdown: The 2007 Top-35 Battle Begins at Daytona

Whether you like it or not, the Top 35 in car owner points from last season are now locked into the field for the 49th Annual Daytona 500. While those teams can rest easy, the rest find themselves a nervous wreck from the minute they arrive in Florida. With Toyota stepping into the NASCAR’s elite …

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