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Who’s Hot / Who’s Not

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in NASCAR: Michigan/Sonoma Edition

Forget about the seven second-place finishes since his last win, the race at Pocono was the first time in four years that Dale Earnhardt Jr. deserved to be in Victory Lane. The second-place results might look better on paper, but none of those were close calls. His eighth-place run at Pocono truly was the closest he had gotten to winning. It shouldn't have been a surprise to anyone that one week later he finally got it done at Michigan to end a 143-race winless drought. Now the talk will turn from, "When will he win?" to "Will he win the championship this year?" The pressure is always on the No. 88 team, but they are handling it well. No team has more momentum right now than Earnhardt Jr's. Read More »

Who’s Hot / Who’s Not In NASCAR: Pocono-Michigan Edition

The driver who lost the most momentum in the past week in the Sprint Cup Series wasn't at the track on Sunday at Pocono. Despite claiming at Darlington that he hated his job as a Sprint Cup Series driver, Kurt Busch apparently wasn't planning on changing vocations any time soon. According to Associated Press writer Jenna Fryer, Busch was in talks with Richard Childress Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing about 2013. If his latest suspension wasn't enough to knock him out of the running at Gibbs, though, Joey Logano's win on Sunday probably was. Logano, a free agent at the end of the season, had been feeling the pressure to perform this season and until two races ago, the results for the most part were underwhelming. His stellar runs in the Nationwide Series and breakthrough win in Sprint Cup on Sunday are silencing the doubters. He is also making it difficult for Joe Gibbs to show him the door, meaning Logano will most likely be in the No. 20 car for the foreseeable future, while if Busch continues in his current ways, he is more likely to be working at Home Depot than driving for Joe Gibbs. Read More »

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in NASCAR: Dover/Pocono Edition

While Hendrick Motorsports gets hotter by the week, there were several key momentum shifts in Sprint Cup after Sunday's race at the Monster Mile. The Joe Gibbs Racing duo of Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch were piling up top 5s until they encountered Dover. After a strong performance in practice, Denny Hamlin put up a dismal show (18th) in the race at arguably his worst track. Busch wasn't doing much better at a place he's got a pair of wins before pulling his car behind the wall on Sunday. Read More »

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in NASCAR: Charlotte/Dover Edition

My prediction of a lightning rod hitting Jeff Gordon's car and the car then catching fire didn't become a reality at Charlotte. Actually, nothing interesting happened to Jeff Gordon on Sunday night. His steering wheel didn't fall off, his tires didn't deflate and his engine didn't break. Gordon led five laps and finished seventh. It must have felt like a victory for the No. 24 team, Gordon's first top 10 since Texas on April 14th, which is an interesting date because that is when Kasey Kahne scored his first top-10 finish and finally began to turn his season around. Five races later, Kahne was in Victory Lane riding a streak of six consecutive top 10s. Read More »

Who’s Hot / Who’s Not in NASCAR: Darlington-Charlotte Edition

It has been a tough season for Hendrick Motorsports. It all started in Speedweeks when Hendrick's four drivers combined to wreck 243 cars (just an estimate) before the Daytona 500 even started. The Great American Race didn't go much better. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. finished second, but Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson were each involved in wrecks while Jeff Gordon blew an engine. Three of Hendrick's four teams started the season in a hole. Johnson dug himself out of it fast, but Victory Lane had eluded the five-time champion until Saturday night. Kasey Kahne was mired in 32nd in the standings after five races, although five straight top 10s have him back in Chase contention (Jeff Gordon is going to need some time). Read More »

Who’s Hot / Who’s Not: Talladega-Darlington Edition

The storyline for the last two weeks has been top level drivers having sub-par seasons finally breaking through and making statements. Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski haven't spent a whole lot of time on the hot or not side of this column because they have each had relatively quiet years, that is before Richmond. With finishes of first and second in the last two races, Busch has sprung himself into the top 10 and Keselowski is only three points out of 10th, but with two wins is almost assured a spot in The Chase either way. Both drivers have had their share of inconsistency in 2012, but they are as good as anyone when they are on. These wins may have been just what they needed to make a run in the middle part of the season. Read More »

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in NASCAR: Richmond/Talladega Edition

Kyle Busch hasn't had a season worth remembering so far in 2012. He has flown under the radar and off our TV screens for much of the year. On Saturday, he reminded everyone that he is still one of the best drivers in the series and a guy that can catch fire at any point in time. While Busch was finally building some momentum, Who's Hot/Not favorites Greg Biffle and Martin Truex Jr. proved their race cars and teams are far from perfect. Parity has been a big story in 2012, and the standings prove it, with the top eight drivers separated by 31 points. Here is who's hot and who's not after Richmond. Read More »

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in NASCAR: Kansas/Richmond Edition

Did anyone pick Denny Hamlin to win at Kansas? How about Martin Truex Jr. to lead the most laps? The 2012 season has been full of momentum shifts and surprises and Kansas was no exception. Hamlin was 20th at Las Vegas and 12th at Texas in the first two events at 1.5-mile tracks. Clearly, he was in line for a win at Kansas (sense the sarcasm). The unpredictability has been refreshing and it also has shuffled the order in Who's Hot/Who's Not. Here are the drivers and teams who are trending up and trending down after Kansas. Read More »

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in NASCAR: Texas/Kansas Edition

_Saturday night's race at Texas resulted in big shifts in momentum in the Sprint Cup Series. Drivers that had it coming in such as Stewart-Haas drivers Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman slowly watched it slip away in what had to be a long night for both men. Newman finished 21st and Stewart was 24th, two laps off the pace in what's typically a strong track for the organization._ _On the opposing side, Hendrick Motorsports drivers Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne finally both had much-needed strong showings. Gordon placed fourth and Kahne was seventh, part of a four-car "sweep" for Hendrick inside the top 10. That means Gordon and Kahne are out of the cold in this week's edition of Who's Hot/Who's Not._ Read More »

Who’s Hot / Who’s Not In NASCAR: Martinsville / Texas Edition

If the infamous green-white-checkered accident didn't happen on Sunday, Who's Hot / Who's Not would have looked completely different this week, but much to the dismay of most NASCAR fans, the wreck did happen. The big loser in it all was Hendrick Motorsports, who not only missed out on scoring a 200th win, but also could have had two of the hottest drivers in the garage, right now. Instead, they own two of the coldest. How fragile momentum is in NASCAR racing. Read More »