Rough situation for 35, 77 Cup teams after Bristol DNQ

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Rare is it that there’s really much attention paid to cars that fail to qualify for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. But when two teams have had such rough starts to the season, it’s at this point you can’t not feel some sympathy.

Front Row Motorsports’ third car, the No. 35 Ford, has gone through three drivers in four races, but only has made the field once. Eric McClure missed the Daytona 500 and Blake Koch only went one-for-two in his two outings.

Now today, David Reutimann, a past Cup Series winner, couldn’t get the car in the show at Bristol. Reutimann’s time of 15.154 seconds, 126.620, wasn’t slowest by any stretch but was exactly one one-thousandth of a second slower than Danica Patrick in 36th (15.153) of the first round of knockout qualifying.

Factor in seven provisionals utilized to those higher up in owner points, and Reutimann’s MDS Transport-backed car went home.

The car is in this tenuous situation because it wasn’t particularly high up in the 2013 owner points, and Josh Wise left in the offseason. That’s already three of a possible four races that car has lost out on additional prize money to help support FRM’s two other full-season cars, driven by David Ragan and David Gilliland.

Randy Humphrey’s No. 77 Ford, meanwhile, is now an imperfect 0-for-4 making the field with new driver Dave Blaney. The team’s Daytona practice accident destroyed the primary car and has now had a hangover effect for the following three races.

Blaney was two tenths off Reutimann’s time in the first round so was left further out of a shot to make the field.

For the team and crew sake, here’s to hoping they can make the show soon as the 2014 season begins to roll into a rhythm.

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”