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Who’s Hot / Who’s Not

Who’s Hot / Not In Sprint Cup: Pre-Talladega

Who’s Hot / Not In Sprint Cup: Pre-Talladega

As we prepare for racing’s semi-annual version of Russian Roulette (Talladega), it’s always nice to take a quick look back before we see whose lives are going to be battered by the Big One. Don’t believe me? Just remember last year. Jeff Gordon came to ‘Dega 98 points in front of Jimmie Johnson and seemingly on another planet compared to everyone else. But an untimely tap by Matt Kenseth on Lap 7 started a multi-car wreck that eliminated a quarter of the field. When the smoke cleared, Gordon’s Chevy was headed to the junkyard, his season never quite the same the rest of the way. Read More »

Who’s Hot / Who’s Not In Sprint Cup: Phoenix Edition

Who’s Hot / Who’s Not In Sprint Cup: Phoenix Edition

This year’s Spring race at Phoenix was hampered by three things: faulty pit strategy, bugs, and a race that was 100 kilometers more than it actually should be. Seriously, why in the world would organizers add laps to an event - on a Saturday night, no less - when the number one complaint amongst the fan base is the races are _already too long?_ I know I’m preaching to the choir with that one … so let’s move on to the concert, shall we? The inside story from our time in the desert is not everyone has broken free from those darned gnats. Sure, a handful of drivers used the shock of a green-white-checkered finish to pull a top 5 finish out of what had been a dreadful day. But for many others, the bugs within their season continue to multiply as they’re already 100, 150, in some cases 250 points outside the vaunted “top 12” everyone labels as the pass/fail moment of their season. Read More »

Who’s Hot / Who’s Not: NASCAR Stars Of The Past And Future

Who’s Hot / Who’s Not: NASCAR Stars Of The Past And Future

Yesterday’s end to March Madness was the ultimate display of David vs. Goliath: the small school Butler Bulldogs versus the longtime tournament powerhouse Duke Blue Devils for a national title. But why put all your eggs in one basket, rooting for that classic “Big Brother vs. Little Guy” matchup when you can see the same type of battle in NASCAR every week? With the “Goliath” efforts of major league drivers constantly double-dipping into Nationwide and Trucks, it’s a similar uphill struggle for the sport’s up-and-coming drivers vs the series' elite. So let’s take a moment and give their efforts the pub they deserve. Looking for a new favorite driver? Or tired of the same old faces up front in Cup? Read More »

Who’s Hot / Who’s Not In Sprint Cup: Martinsville Edition

Who’s Hot / Who’s Not In Sprint Cup: Martinsville Edition

With the Sprint Cup tour preparing for its second break in a little less than four weeks (courtesy: the Easter Bunny), it’s time to sit back and take stock once again at which drivers have all the momentum. And for those who don’t have any, there’s plenty of time to kick their season into high gear… Right? Wrong. Six races means almost one-quarter of this year’s regular season is already complete. As I told you "last week in SI,":http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/tom_bowles/03/24/mailbag/index.html according to history approximately nine of the 12 drivers you see currently entrenched in this year’s Chase will be there once the checkered flag flies at Richmond this fall. Read More »

Who’s Hot / Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: Bristol Edition

Who’s Hot / Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: Bristol Edition

It’s only Tuesday, but most people in America this week are already hot under the collar about _something._ Whether it’s their NCAA bracket getting thrown in the shredder, agony/elation over the health care bill, or the 5-minute socially awkward conversation otherwise known as “Tiger Woods Gives Some One-Sentence Answers,” there’s been plenty for people to get all fired up about. But when it comes to NASCAR, a deafening silence falls amongst the crowd. A few might fidget, others might change the topic, and one or two might stand up and cheer. But the ugly truth is there’s just one driver hotter than everybody else these days … so hot for so long, in fact, he’s ready to join the sun as a permanent star in our solar system. Read More »

Who’s Hot / Who’s Not: NASCAR Stars Of The Past And Future

Who’s Hot / Who’s Not: NASCAR Stars Of The Past And Future

Basketball Cinderellas may dance onto our radar screen this week in the form of the NCAA Tournament … but they’ve been visible in the NASCAR world all along. Nationwide and Truck drivers look for some small scraps of attention every week, trying to establish (or maintain) their careers in the face of Danica-Mania, Cupwhackers, and an economy that’s made unemployment the rule and not the exception. Yet through it all, they’ve maintained a smile and a sense of quiet determination that puts a select few in position to reach the pinnacle of their division – and if they’re lucky, get another chance to race at NASCAR’s top level. How have some of these “other” stars performed as Spring approaches? Well, my friends, that’s why we have a little column called Who’s Hot … and Who’s Not, taking a look this week at drivers you might not be paying attention to. Read More »

Who’s Hot / Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: Atlanta Edition

Who’s Hot / Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: Atlanta Edition

Welcome back to the South, NASCAR! After two mediocre races in California and Las Vegas, Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway quickly reminded fans of the show that NASCAR drivers can produce at some of the circuits more senior tracks – like they did in Daytona last month. As often happens at the 50 year-old track, the old pavement took its toll on tires and contenders, allowing some different faces to have a look at the lead pack. While several drivers with surprising runs held their momentum, Brad Keselowski was less than two laps away from his first top 10 with Penske Racing, before new nemesis Carl Edwards took him for a mid-air ride. How did these drivers and others fair on the *HOT*, *WARM*, *COOL* and *COLD* charts – let’s find out… Read More »

Who’s Hot / Who’s Not In Sprint Cup: Las Vegas Edition

Who’s Hot / Who’s Not In Sprint Cup: Las Vegas Edition

With cars, casinos, and caution lights run amok, Vegas had a little something for everyone this weekend (or in the case of Kim Kardashian, no one). But as you’d expect with most trips to Sin City, only a handful of drivers came out a winner in a race that was dominated by one of the sport’s multi-car powerhouses. In case you were off watching hockey, I’ll give you a clue: Starts with “H” and ends with “Endrick.” Trust me, it was less exciting than overtime… But while the rest of the us watched Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon play with house money, there were a few lucky souls who still left the 1.5-mile oval with their heads held high and their optimism intact for Atlanta. Who’s still in the same time zone as the No. 24 and No. 48? Come take a stroll down the Vegas strip one last time in the latest edition of Who’s Hot / Who’s Not. Read More »

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not In Sprint Cup: Fontana Edition

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not In Sprint Cup: Fontana Edition

I’ve done this column twice so far in 2010, and both have been when I’m physically less than 100 percent. At this rate, it seems like my body is mimicking the attendance at virtually every race ever run at Fontana (Zing!) But seriously, folks, the second race of the season gave us a solid look at who’s going to be running up front in 2010. With intermediate tracks making up the bulk of the 36-race schedule, cars and drivers that run well here can rest easy knowing they’ll make it through the next few weeks at Las Vegas and Atlanta without pulling their hair out. On the flip side, the drivers whose cars handled like junk this past weekend have far more cause for concern. As we’ve seen in the past, a poor start to the first four races can take you a good three to four months to dig out of, turning a possible bid for the Chase berth into a chase for a new ride in 2011. See which side of the list your driver fits on below – all in the latest, strep throat edition of Who’s Hot / Who’s Not. Read More »

Who’s Hot / Who’s Not In Sprint Cup: Daytona Edition

With the Great American Race in the books, it’s time to get down to business and begin the 2010 season in earnest. While the beauty of NASCAR’s new rules led to a record-breaking 21 leaders at Daytona, it’s hard to gauge right now if the sport’s momentum from plate racing can carry over to the cookie-cutters like Fontana, Las Vegas, or Atlanta up ahead. Well, that same type of uncertainty transfers over into the driver’s seat, as everyone wonders whether one strong run can turn into a season’s worth of success rather than a one-hit wonder. Recent history shows that’s easier said than done. Read More »