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Who’s Hot / Who’s Not

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

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

Clint Bowyer did everything right in the first three races of the Chase. He kept his car clean and drove to top 10s in all three events, and with that he was within striking distance of the leaders. Then Talladega happened. Even though he was running toward the front of the pack, Bowyer received heavy damage in the last-lap melee and was scored in 23rd. Bowyer was knocked 40 points back of Brad Keselowski, and it seemed that his Chase was over through no fault of his own. Then Charlotte happened. Read More »

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

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

The point of this column each week is to separate the winners and the losers after each race. It is to point out those who are trending up and those who are sliding back. After Sunday’s race at Talladega, it was hard to find many winners. Ten of the 12 Chase drivers were involved in the chaos that ensued on the last lap, and every driver besides Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle lost ground on leader Brad Keselowski. The race that was supposed to tighten up the championship battle instead just knocked worthy drivers such as Clint Bowyer further out of contention. Read More »

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

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

How perfect was Sunday’s ending for Dodge? The company announced over the summer that it wouldn’t back Cup Series teams in 2013, although they left the door open for a future return. Well, the manufacturer may be leaving the sport, but Brad Keselowski and Penske Racing are making sure the automaker goes out in style. At Dover, Keselowski was going to finish fourth or fifth at best, but because of the great fuel mileage he gets — an advantage he's had all season — Keselowski drove around the cars conserving fuel in his Dodge and drove to a second victory in three races in the Chase. Now, the rest of the garage is asking, “How do we get one of these Dodge engines?” Read More »

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not: New Hampshire/Dover Edition

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not: New Hampshire/Dover Edition

Denny Hamlin called his shot, and hit it out of the park when it mattered. Hamlin dominated New Hampshire for the second straight race, but did something he wasn’t able to do the first time around — close. On Sunday, Hamlin led 193 laps and never even came close to relinquishing the lead down the stretch on the way to his fifth victory. The win moved him within seven points of series leader Jimmie Johnson. Hamlin made a statement by closing the deal at New Hampshire, but he could make an even bigger statement by stringing together consistent finishes like the top two in points have, Keselowski and Johnson. Read More »

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in NASCAR: Chicago/New Hampshire Edition

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in NASCAR: Chicago/New Hampshire Edition

Jimmie Johnson made it clear in the mid-part of 2012 that he would be the driver to beat in the Chase because of his consistency. From the May 12 race at Darlington to the June 30 race at Kentucky — a seven-race span — Johnson won twice while finishing inside the top six all but once. The only other driver that displayed consistency even remotely matching that this season is Brad Keselowski. What Keselowski has done might even be more impressive. Nobody has scored more points in the last 11 races; during that span, Keselowski has two wins, seven top 5s and 10 top 10s. Read More »

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

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

Jeff Gordon climbed from his car and raised his fists in the air after 400 miles at Richmond. Never has someone been so excited to finish second (At least, not since Alan Kulwicki in 1992 at Atlanta). Clint Bowyer’s victory was an afterthought and so was the performance of nearly every other driver besides Kyle Busch. However, Gordon wasn’t the only to driver to exit his car at Richmond after a top-five finish to breathe a sigh of relief. After a four-race slide in which Tony Stewart nearly fell out of the top 10 in points, he finally stopped the bleeding at Richmond. Read More »

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

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

In his post-race interview after blowing an engine at Atlanta, Carl Edwards said all he could do to get in the Chase was win at Richmond on Saturday and hope for a miracle. The reality is, unless Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch get involved in a melee from Talladega Nights, Edwards isn’t going to make the playoffs. With three superstar drivers looking at the Chase from outside at the beginning of the summer, it was pretty clear that Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon and Edwards weren’t all going to claw their way back in. After engine problems at Atlanta, Edwards has one nail left on the claw and is hanging from a ledge. Read More »

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in NASCAR: Bristol/Atlanta Edition

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in NASCAR: Bristol/Atlanta Edition

Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart’s seasons have almost mirrored each other. Both drivers entered Bristol with multiple victories in seasons that have been more up and down then Kurt Busch’s rear deck lid. Hamlin and Stewart entered Bristol in The Chase, but they knew what was on the line Saturday night. Kasey Kahne has been steadily closing on the drivers in the top 10 and neither Hamlin nor Stewart wanted to be the driver to drop into a wild card slot and forfeit his team’s wins. Read More »

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not: Michigan/Bristol Edition

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not: Michigan/Bristol Edition

With drivers the caliber of Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards and Ryan Newman fighting for the final wild card spot, many fans expected them all to get hot and combine to win a bunch of races before the Chase. I was one of them. I guess I forgot why these teams were fighting for the second wild card spot in the first place: they haven’t been very good. Gordon earned a win (earned might not be the right word), and Newman has put together some decent runs, but with the sense of urgency high with only three races until the Chase, it doesn’t really seem like anyone wants the spot. Read More »

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in NASCAR: Watkins Glen/Michigan Edition

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in NASCAR: Watkins Glen/Michigan Edition

The ending to Sunday’s race at Watkins Glen wasn't like anything I’d ever seen before. It brought back memories of my favorite video game as a kid — Super Mario Kart for Super Nintendo. The ending was so chaotic it didn’t seem real. Kyle Busch had the win and the second wild card spot locked up when he began slipping in oil during the final two laps, allowing Brad Keselowski and Marcos Ambrose to close in. Keselowski spun Busch in the esses (green shell) and along with Ambrose, drove through the grass in the bus stop (shortcut). Read More »