Since we are currently on a six month cycle for graphics cards, it seems to me the 9700 should be the top dog until December. That's four months. That only leaves two months for the NV30 to be on top. If you are going to wait for the NV30, you might as well wait two more months to get the R350.
As far as the NV30 is concerned, it took ATI 18 months to make the 9700. I assume the NV30 has taken just as long. If nVidia didn't know what ATI was going to produce until just recently, they will not be able to change it's design.