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Monday, November 13, 2006

The Other 33: Phoenix

With 8 Chasers in the top ten, there were few chances to get on camera for the other 33. Unless they were crashing.

5. Carl Edwards-Edwards/Osborne 2.0. As Osborne noted, Wally Brown and crew built the Phoenix car, which will probably be ignored by many. Edwards can win with many crew chiefs, but he can't win with Roush's current cars.

8. Kurt Busch-For the 95th time this year a top five run was halted by problems in the pits. At least when he’s on the track Busch has found some speed.

11. Brian Vickers-For the 95th time this year a top five run was halted by his usual fade (and no reason was mentioned on air). Vickers still rallied for a top 15.

12. Martin Truex Jr-It took longer than expected, but Truex is finally competitive nearly every week. Like many cars, he lost a lap early but came back strong.

14. Tony Stewart-Even Stewart doesn’t get camera time unless he’s winning a race. Even when he bumped McMurray his car wasn’t in the shot.

15. Ryan Newman-He hasn’t had a top ten since Bristol (8th) in August. He only has two poles all year.

16. David Gilliland-You just scored your second career top 20, what are you going to do now? I’m going to Gilliland!

17. Elliot Sadler-Sadler finished right behind his old 38 car. That probably tripped him out.

18. David Stremme-Excluding Kasey Kahne taking him out at Atlanta, Stremme is showing improvement. He has actually run better than Reed Sorenson down the stretch.

19. Joe Nemechek-Nemechek hovered in the top 15 all day, but got a piece of a late crash and had to repair damage.

20. JJ Yeley-When he is running Yeley shows improvement this year. The problem is he’s crashed a lot.

21. Tony Raines-Jeff Green was not happy with Raines after an incident. Since there weren’t replays, I don’t know what happened prior.

22. Scott Riggs-Evernham is still working on their flat 1-mile program. Riggs should be a contender next week at Homestead.

23. Dave Blaney-His future teammate Jeremy Mayfield failed to qualify at Phoenix. Expect this sentence to reappear next year too.

24. Ken Schrader-Next Sunday is likely Schrader’s last race as a full-time driver. He’ll split time with Jon Wood next year. Zero attention will be made of this.

25. Kyle Petty-Phoenix was his fourth straight lead lap finish. Considering where PE was the past few years, that’s relatively impressive.

26. Casey Mears-Ran most of the day in the teens and spun late. Will receive too much attention this week about his move to Hendrick.

27. Bobby Labonte-His finish breaks a 3-race streak of top ten finishes at Phoenix. Surprising he was never close to the top ten.

28. Ward Burton-Considering it took nearly two years for Burton to return to Cup racing, maybe it shouldn’t be so surprising that Morgan-McLure is his best option. It still surprises me though.

29. Reed Sorenson-In mid-summer few would have been surprised to see Sorenson win a race this year. That was a little premature for this year.

30. Travis Kvapil-Maybe he could attract sponsors by appealing to a hipper demographic. Change his name to T-Qwap.

31. Bill Elliott-Remember when Elliott was a hot commodity for open rides? It feels like a long time ago.

32. Robby Gordon-He hit a lot of cars, irritated a lot of drivers and didn’t finish very well.

33. Clint Bowyer-Ran in the top 15 the whole race, then got black flagged for smoking near the end. And that’s a terrible example for our youth.

34. Greg Biffle-Next year will be interesting. Mark Martin said Pat Tryson will make the 16 team much better next year.

35. Chad Chaffin-His 29.7 driver rating was awful, but he ran as many laps as Biffle and Bowyer.

36. Sterling Marlin-Marlin is this year’s Bobby Labonte. His car has radar that finds wrecks. That or a giant “crash magnet”. Or something like that.

37. Jeff Green-As he waited for Raines to drive by, it was strange that no one tried to restrain him. NBC was just waiting for Green to do something. What would happen if he flipped the 96 off?

39. Dale Jarrett-Yates can’t find someone willing to sponsor a 38th place car. Now there are rumors Yates may sell the owner’s points.

40. Jamie McMurray-After getting spun by Tony Stewart, “I’m buying my tools at Lowes.” A better shill would have added “my Irwin tools”.

41. Mike Bliss-Lost an engine late. Otherwise he may have finished 30th.

42. Michael Waltrip-Crashed and later lost an engine. Is Toyota watching the races this year?

43. Brandon Whitt-Whitt made his Cup debut, which lasted 123 laps. At least he made $61,286 for his effort.