“Give me fuel, give me fire, give me that which I desire,” may very well have been the lyrics Jimmie Johnson was banging his head to as his dominant No. 48 Chevy sputtered to the finish of Sunday’s LifeLock 400. The three-time champ absolutely dominated at Michigan, only surrendering the lead after the final pit …
Fuel mileage was again the name of the game for the second week in a row this past Sunday at Michigan International Speedway. As some of the top-15 teams dried up late and faded, three of our bubble teams were able to surge ahead as they went into conservation mode soon enough to stretch their gas tanks to the checkered flag. Which trio was able to ride it out to the finish? Read on to find out in this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown.
If you make the long and winding drive down Long Pond Drive you’ll come upon the Speedway in the woods known as Pocono Raceway. In 2008, this track was nothing short of disaster for the bubble teams and 2009 wasn’t much kinder to them. It started Friday when qualifying was rained out, meaning that the teams would have to start from the rear of the field. Add in the fact that passing is so difficult in these cars and it’s a long grueling race anyway and you have a long afternoon for the teams hovering around the Top 35. The end result was only Michael Waltrip posting a top-25 finish among our drivers and that included a pair of spins. So to see how badly the bubble teams struggled on Sunday, read on in this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown.
Race number 13 in the 2009 season was an unlucky one for Goodyear, as periodic rains in Dover washed the track of rubber after both the Friday race sessions and the Saturday races. With entries in both the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series having right front tire issues, Sprint Cup teams knew that tire conservation during Sunday’s race would be the only way to increase the chance of avoiding the damning blown tire punctures. Despite a competition caution and other precautions, several teams suffered tire failures and many others’ days were ruined by a caution that came out during a green flag pit sequence that John Andretti’s blown right front and subsequent brushing with the wall brought out. These factors combined with a barn-burner finish, determined this week’s *HOT*, *WARM*, and *COLD* drivers for the week.
News from the bubble this week primarily dealt with Robby Gordon’s rear end and whether NASCAR’s method of handing out penalties is fair or not. Gordon was docked 50 owner and driver points and crew chief Kirk Almquist was fined $50,000 this week after post-race inspection at Lowe’s found their rear axle housing exceeded the maximum specified toe of plus or minus one degree. Neither the driver nor crew chief was suspended as a result of the inspection, however, while in the previous week, driver Carl Long was given a 12-race suspension, got docked 200 owner/driver points, and his crew chief was fined $200,000 for an engine at a non-points race that exceeded NASCAR’s 358-cubic inch requirement by just .17 inches. Seems to me one guy got off a little easy while another one got bent right over the woodpile…. To see if Robby could make up the penalty at Dover or if the drivers outside the Top 35 would make up some ground on him, read on in this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown.
Just like Jeremy Mayfield’s test results, the Lady In Black wasn’t kind to everyone to tried to conquer her this weekend. While there were some great days for teams on the right side of the bubble, many of the cars outside it saw their bubble burst with wrecks or poor qualifying runs that hampered overall performance. As a result, while no one new moved into the Top 35 this week, some teams had a chance to put distance between themselves and the rest of the pack. To see which ones had the most success – and who’s still in danger – read on to see this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown.
Bad news has hit one of our bubble teams since the last race at Texas. After several patchwork sponsorship deals to keep the team afloat through March, the No. 8 Chevrolet driven by Aric Almirola has been shut down due to a lack of funding. Earnhardt Ganassi Racing plans to bring everyone back once sponsorship is found, but with the car sitting outside the Top 35, sponsors aren’t really lining up to throw money at them. Despite that disappointment, there was also plenty of good news coming out of Phoenix, too. Several teams sitting outside the Top 35 posted top-10 qualifying performances, while another one fighting to stay inside it actually managed to finish there. Read on to see who’s moving up and who’s moving in the opposite direction in this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown.
Optimism ran rampant amongst several bubble drivers this weekend as Paul Menard, Sam Hornish Jr., and Joey Logano all posted top-12 qualifying runs. But qualifying pays no points and Texas is a big, fast, nasty track that some of the best drivers have yet to master. So, as the race began questions loomed for those with solid starts – would Logano finally break through with a great finish? Would Menard continue his success at Texas? Would Hornish run a race and not hit anything? For the answers to these questions as well as who’s in and who’s out of the Top 35, read on for this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown.
Coming into Sunday’s Samsung 500, Jeff Gordon had not been to victory lane since the Bank of America 500 on October 13, 2007, a streak of 47 races. That is a thing of the past now. Gordon’s pit crew was quick enough during the final pit stop on lap 307 to get Gordon the lead. From there, Gordon had to hold off resurgent teammate Jimmie Johnson to win the Samsung 500.
The last remnants of the 2008 season have finally been cast by the wayside, as NASCAR now uses this year’s owner points in determining who has a guaranteed starting spot and who has to qualify on time. But as the drivers now outside of the Top 35 readied themselves to give it all they had at Martinsville in order to qualify for the race on Friday – it rained. So, the field was set according to the owner standings, sending the last four cars back to their shops while the top 43 lined up Sunday afternoon. Of the ones that remained, which drivers were able to race their way up into the Top 35 for the first time under the 2009 points standings? Read on in this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown to see who moved up and who dropped out.