Hot 20 – They are getting suspended, hired, fired, and fired up heading to New Hampshire

Everyone is super excited about going to Loudon, New Hampshire for the big event on Sunday. Okay, Alan Gustafson is not. Is not going, that is. Chase Elliott was second in Chicago, leaving him sixth in points. That was then. Now, he is eighth in points. If your car fails post-race inspection, sometimes they take away 15 points, along with your crew chief for a week. Sometimes NASCAR catches you. Sometimes a fan sees on TV tape being removed where tape should not be. Busted. Elliott remains 18 points above the cut-off for the next round, so he is good as long as he remains good in New Hampshire. However, we do thank Alan for his efforts and wish him well…well, until he returns in time for Dover.

Kasey Kahne is good to go for 2018. No doubt Rick Hendrick thanks him for his efforts and wished him well in his future endeavors. Those efforts will take place with the Leavine Family Racing team. That means that after about a hundred events, Michael McDowell departs the No. 95 to be thanked for his efforts and wished well in his future endeavors.

Sometimes when a person gets fired, they say nice things. Sometimes they might even give you a two-year Day-Timer as a parting gift. In my case, I was amused at their choice, being unemployed and all, but as my old one was going to be defunct within three months, I could always use that new one come January. Sadly, come January, my new two-year Day-Timer also required replacement. Something tells me they got my gift from a bargain bin, for things that are almost expired. I never did use the damn thing. Sometimes, they say things like how a person is so versatile and talented, and still, they fire her ass, while thanking her for all she has done and wishing her the best in her future endeavors.

While Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick prepare for their respective futures, XFINITY is looking at their own. We are all excited that they unveiled the branding for 2018 of the NASCAR XFINITY Series this week. Considering what the crowds look like and how few races the actual championship contenders win against the Cup guys dropping down to grab the trophies, I thank them for all they have done and wish the series well in all their future endeavors.

In the meantime, Martin Truex Jr. was the best throughout the season and the best in Chicago. Did you notice that the Top 15 last week were equally represented by the manufacturers? Five Toyotas, five Fords, and five Chevy’s. Now, that is parity. I wish them all well this weekend in their endeavors.

1. MARTIN TRUEX JR. – 1 SEGMENT WIN – 2102 Pts – 5 Wins
The favorite to win the title. After Chicago, does anyone have any questions?

2. KYLE LARSON – 2075 POINTS – 4 Wins
Best damn Chevy at Chicago that was not penalized after the race.

3. KEVIN HARVICK – 2067 POINTS – 1 Win
Harvick keeps his sponsors by investing in them and believing in them. They return the favor.

Thinks Toyota has an unfair advantage. He is right. They call him Mr. Truex.

5. KYLE BUSCH – 2061 POINTS – 2 Wins
Just wants Brad to know that he also drives a Toyota.

6. DENNY HAMLIN – 2058 POINTS – 2 Wins
Him, too.

7. JIMMIE JOHNSON – 2056 POINTS – 3 Wins
When morale takes a hit when a hurricane hits your town, Jimmie is on call.

An “aerodynamic modification” found in post-race inspection costs 15 points and his crew chief.

Audition for 2018 had a good start, placing ninth last week.

10. RYAN BLANEY – 2034 POINTS – 1 Win
When I originally read he was visiting the Magic Mile Club, I thought it too much information.

Took his car out for a spin in Chicago last week, and still finished in the Top Ten.

12. AUSTIN DILLON – 2026 POINTS – 1 Win
Sure, the track is like driving on the highway, but pit lane is more like a school zone.

13. KURT BUSCH – 2026 POINTS – 1 Win
Not all vibrations are good, and speeding on pit road always ends badly.

14. RICKY STENHOUSE JR. – 2022 POINTS – 2 Wins
Touch fence. Check. Violate commitment line. Check. Speed down pit lane. Check.

15. KASEY KAHNE – 2021 POINTS – 1 Win
Kurt said no, but Kasey thought it divine to be with Leavine Family Racing in 2018.

16. RYAN NEWMAN – 2019 POINTS – 1 Win
23rd and pretty much unseen throughout the day. Made the Chase, but isn’t making the grade.

17. JOEY LOGANO – 692 POINTS – 1 Win
16 guys still have a shot at the championship. Joey is not among them.

16 guys still have a shot…well…you know the rest.

String of six straight Top Tens hits the ditch big time in Chicago.

96 points ahead of Trevor Bayne. 116 points up on Junior.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

Ron Thornton
Ron Thornton
A former radio and television broadcaster, newspaper columnist, Little League baseball coach, Ron Thornton has been following NASCAR on this site since 2004. While his focus may have changed over recent years, he continues to make periodic appearances only when he has something to say. That makes him a rather unique journalist.


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