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.

April 5 in Motorsports History: Alex Zanardi’s amazing Long Beach rally

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Alex Zanardi entered the Long Beach Grand Prix on April 5, 1998 as the race’s defending champion and the series’ defending champion.

But the Italian didn’t seem a serious contender for much of the 105-lap event. Zanardi started 11th position and lost a lap early when he was involved in a multicar spin in the hairpin.

Alex Zanardi celebrates after winning the 1998 Grand Prix of Long Beach. Photo: Getty Images

But the race was still young, and despite emerging from the incident in 18th place, Zanardi slowly progressed through the field while battling radio problems that made communication difficult with his team.

With five laps remaining, Zanardi passed Dario Franchitti on the backstretch for second place and then focused in on leader Bryan Herta.

With two laps remaining, Zanardi made his move, making a daring pass on the inside of Herta in the Queen’s Hairpin (which no longer exists as the track layout was changed the following year).

The move was reminiscent of Zanardi’s famous last-lap move on the inside of Laguna Seca’s famed Corkscrew in 1996, which deprived Herta of his first CART victory.

Franchitti passed Herta as well, and Zanardi went on to clinch his first victory of the season.

“On a day when everything went wrong, we came back and won,” Zanardi said following the race. “I can’t explain it. It wasn’t until I saw Bryan ahead of me that I ever thought I had a shot at winning. It was amazing. I have no words to describe it.”

Following Long Beach, Zanadri won six more times in 1998 en route to his second and final CART championship.

Also on this date:

1992: Bobby Rahal led from start to finish to win the Valvoline 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. The win was the first of four victories for Rahal during his championship season.

2009: Ryan Briscoe won the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the first of three victories for the Aussie in 2009. The race was also the first IndyCar Series on Versus, which was rebranded as NBC Sports Network in 2012.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter @michaele1994