Sure, there arestill 20 races to go until the Nextel Cup finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway onNov. 18, but the 2007 regular season is already more than half over. With 10races left until the start of the Chase, here's a look at the best and theworst of racing so far.
Juan Pablo Montoya
At 21st in thepoint standings, he is the highest ranking rookie, but the full magnitude ofhis talent was on display on June 24 at Sonoma when a masterly drive broughthim his first Cup win in 17 starts.
While the Gibbsand Penske teams moan about the breaks of the game, the Hendrick operation,which has 10 wins, makes its own luck.
Four wins and 14top 10s in 16 races. The four-time champ's in top form.
A year after hislost season, Flyin' Ryan is again earning poles and running in front. Now hejust needs to win a few races.
At second in thepoint standings, it's hard to believe that he could call this a disappointingseason so far. All he needs is a victory.
Best of therest
Nobody's donemore with less this year than he has. His win at Fontana in February is one ofonly three by a non-Chevy this season.
On questionablecaution flags influencing race outcomes: "I guess NASCAR thinks, 'Hey,wrestling worked, and it was for the most part staged, so I guess it's going towork in racing, too.' I can't understand how long the fans are going to letNASCAR treat them like they're stupid."
His Sonomamisstep aside, nearly every move has paid off--most notably at Pocono, wherehis beat-the-rain pit strategy secured a win.
Unprepared forthe Car of Tomorrow, as well as for the new nose of his Dodge Charger, lastyear's winningest driver has struggled most weeks to get near the top 20.
Kurt Busch vs. Tony Stewart
The two formerCup champs have been trading paint--and verbal barbs--ever since they tangledin the Daytona 500, crashing out of the race 49 laps from the finish whilerunning in first and second.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. vs. Jeff Gordon
This one existsonly in the minds of Junior's fans, who now have to get used to the two menactually being teammates. What would Dale Sr. say? Simple: Just win, son.
This one's badeven by Busch's standards. After tangling with Stewart at Dover, Buschsideswiped the number 20 Chevy on pit road, nearly pancaking Stewart'sjackman.
NIGEL KINRADE (CARS, BUSCH)
SAM SHARPE (KAHNE, MONTOYA)
MARK J. REBILAS/US PRESSWIRE (LETARTE)
FRED VUICH (STEWART)