There is hot, and there is hot. Hot could be winning the opening race of the Chase, securing a berth in the next round, and allowing two races to tinker and prepare for Charlotte. However, after a spin on just the second lap in Chicago, the result was as much a credit to the performance of crew chief Dave Rogers as it was to the driver, Denny Hamlin.
Hot could be showcasing a dominant performance. Kyle Busch led much of the race, only to melt like an M&M Crispy sitting in the back window over the summer, to come home in ninth. Not good enough to win, but surely good enough to garner some notice that the best for him might be yet to come.
Hot could be sitting behind the wheel of a good car, one that was near the front. At least, it was until Jimmie Johnson tried to force his way up off the apron after Joey Logano had put him there, only to find an unyielding Kevin Harvick. What did yield was Harvick’s rear tire after the two entries came in contact, sending the defending champ into the wall. Hot was what Harvick was when Johnson tried to explain what happened after the race. A win this week or next might now be Harvick’s best bet to advance.
Hot could be being part of a team that had controversy leading up to its first ever race, having your own reputation smeared along the way, and then we had last Sunday. Clint Bowyer’s hopes of bringing a title to MWR in its final go round dipped deeper than Harvick’s mood when he got stripped of all 25 points he gained last week. This latest drama began when it was discovered prior to the race that some parts were not properly installed on his car. Crew chief Billy Scott’s wallet is $75,000 lighter and he is gone for the next three races. Time to find some new friends, Mr. Bowyer.
For those still allowed to show up at the track, Loudon, New Hampshire is next on the dance card. Harvick won there once, back in 2006. Half the time he finishes in the Top Ten. That might not be good enough to get out of the hole he finds himself in. As far as Bowyer goes, I think it is time to break out the shovels.
The last four to win there have all been Chasers; Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Logano, and Rowdy. It is a good bet one of them could do it again this Sunday. The Hot 20 heading to New Hampshire includes…
1. DENNY HAMLIN – 1 CHASE WIN
An early spin, a lap down, but Mr. Roger’s got this trolley back on the rails.
2. MATT KENSETH – 2052 POINTS
Needs a win. If he wins the title on points alone again, oh what would people say?
3. KYLE BUSCH – 2049 POINTS (4 Season Wins)
Chicago was M&M’s biggest heart break since E.T. made Reece’s Pieces his favorite.
4. CARL EDWARDS – 2049 POINTS (2 Season Wins)
Track position trumped fresh rubber last week…but not by much.
5. JOEY LOGANO – 2048 POINTS (3 Season Wins)
Bump drafting on the re-start sure worked well…for him.
6. KURT BUSCH – 2048 POINTS (2 Season Wins)
Pit boss Tony Gibson plans to be in Loudon but is leaving his appendix behind him.
7. JIMMIE JOHNSON – 2045 POINTS
Got an unwanted push from Logano during the race, got another from Harvick after it.
8. RYAN NEWMAN – 2040 POINTS
July 28, 2013. His win column definitely needs a re-boot.
9. BRAD KESELOWSKI – 2039 POINTS
Oh, just win the damn race on Sunday and get it over with.
10. DALE EARNHARDT JR. – 2038 POINTS
To be part of next season’s XFINITY tour in the only place a Cup guy should be…in the booth.
11. MARTIN TRUEX JR. – 2035 POINTS
Lost his sponsor and his job through no fault of his own in 2013. There is life after MWR.
12. JEFF GORDON – 2031 POINTS
Last Loudon win came in the previous century.
13. JAMIE MCMURRAY – 2028 POINTS
With a heat seeking sponsor, he will be seeking out some heat of his own.
14. PAUL MENARD – 2027 POINTS
At a track that does him no favors, Sunday could be more about surviving than thriving.
15. KEVIN HARVICK – 2009 POINTS
At least all his car parts were attached properly until Jimmie tried to remove them.
16. CLINT BOWYER – 2000 POINTS
17. ARIC ALMIROLA – 727 POINTS
There is speculation that he could be getting a new teammate next year. Might it be Clint?
18. KASEY KAHNE – 697 POINTS
Two Top Tens is not exactly what he was signed up for.
19. KYLE LARSON – 656 POINTS
Twenty-three years old and stuck at the kiddie’s table. It could be worse. Just ask Austin, Danica, Tony…
20. GREG BIFFLE – 634 POINTS
Dear Jack Roush: WTF????