NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Tag Archives: Paul Menard

The 2007 Sprint Cup Rookies: What Are They Up To Now?

As most of the Sprint Cup drivers took a week off from racing multi-colored cars in favor of cracking vibrant eggs, the rookie column was left on a little bit of an Easter Egg hunt of its own... trying to figure out how to fill this space for the week! Considering we're only five races into the season, it's a little too early to start grading the progress of the 2008 freshmen; considering their woeful start, this is probably a good thing. I'll save that for the halfway point of the season; in the meantime, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at how the 2007 Rookie of the Year candidates have started out their second seasons in Cup. With a year under their belt, expectations are riding high for these five drivers, so let's see if they have been stepping up to the plate or succumbing to the dreaded "sophomore slump."

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Bubble Breakdown: Previewing the 2008 Battle for the Top 35, Part II

Last week in this column, I talked about the teams on the outside of the Top 35 looking in. This week, I'm going to touch on some of the teams that wound up just inside the Top 35 last year. If past performance is any indication, they're the ones most in jeopardy of being on the bubble this season; and with the competition closer than ever, I'll rate the chances I think they'll have at still being locked in by race six -- or if they're headed towards some frantic Friday afternoons instead.

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2007 Driver Review: Paul Menard

Menard's best finish of the season was at Michigan International Speedway, where he finished a career-high 12th in the Citizens Bank 400. Starting back in 38th, he methodically worked his way up through the pack, even leading a lap in the process - one of only three he'd lead all season in the Cup Series.

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2007 Nextel Cup Rookie Report Cards

The final checkered flag has waived for 2007, a champion has been crowned, and the end of season awards have been distributed to their deserving recipients at the NASCAR Awards Banquet in New York City. But before we leave the season behind, there's just one thing left to do; I, Professor Lumbis, need to assign the final grades for 2007 freshman class as they completed their first season on the Nextel Cup tour. Grades will be based on the accomplishments and shortfalls for each rookie contender while previewing what their goals should be for 2008, as each driver tries to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump.

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not: Outside the Chase After the 2007 Checker Auto Parts 500k at Phoenix

While admirable performances were put in by a handful of teams, Sunday's final results leaned heavily in favor of the playoff participants - again. For the second straight week, eight of the top 10 finishers were also among the top 12 in Nextel Cup points, making it difficult to argue that any of the Chasers didn't deserve to be ranked amongst NASCAR's elite. But what about those drivers left behind? Now, just one race remains for any of them to salvage seasons that clearly didn't turn out the way they intended. Read on to find out Who's Hot and Who's Not, outside the Chase for the Championship.

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Nextel Cup Rookie Report: Texas Terrible Track for Juan Pablo Montoya, Other Freshmen

Montoya has enjoyed a good amount of his non-road course success on quad ovals this year, and at one point in time, it appeared this weekend's race at Texas would be no different. The Colombian started the event from the inside of row 2 and by lap 7, he had his Texaco/Havoline Dodge comfortably in the lead. Although the top spot was relinquished to Jeff Gordon during pit stops on lap 16, the rookie would still make his presence felt in the top 10 for the majority of the race's first quarter.

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Nextel Cup Rookie Report: David Ragan Rocks at Richmond

By the end of Saturday night's event, many spectators were looking at the No. 6 car and saying, "Where did that guy come from?" It was a very similar to his "stealthy" performance last week at Fontana, where hardly anyone noticed David Ragan as he quietly battled to a top-15 finish. A late season surge from this team should not surprise anyone; in fact, this is the type of performance I expect from this team as they revisit many of these Nextel Cup venues for the second time. Ragan is starting to look more and more like his Roush Fenway teammate Matt Kenseth each week, staying out of trouble while dialing in his racecar for the end of the event. Clearly, he's becoming a force to be reckoned with.

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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.

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

Frontstretch's Tony Lumbis sat down with Paul 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.

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Nextel Cup: 2007 Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Edition

Unless you're a glutton for punishment, Kurt Busch, or one of Kurt Busch's fans (yes - he actually does have some), then you probably found Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono a real snoozefest. Busch started from second position, alongside Dale Earnhardt Jr., but didn't stay there long; he made a mockery out of the race, leading 175 laps en route to his first win of the year and a spot inside the top 12 in points. Unlike recent weeks, there weren't any potential Chasers that ran into major trouble on Sunday; the 14 main contenders all finished in the top 17 positions, making the race for the Chase more competitive than ever with just five races remaining.

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