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A J Allmendinger

The story behind Matt DiBenedetto’s best career NASCAR finish

The biggest highlight from Sunday's race at Sonoma was Matt DiBenedetto's best career NASCAR finish of fourth.

Hot 20 – Thank God for the Chase, as a dozen contenders and the also-rans return to Charlotte

Sixteen started the Chase with some hope. That is now down to 12 as they pull into Charlotte. If we relied strictly on the season tally to award the trophy, it would already be down to Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick. Just two points would be separating them. Both could have sat out Saturday night’s race and still have been one-two in the standings come Monday. Hence, the Chase.

Hot 20 – Watkins Glen runs on Sunday, so let the right hand turns begin

Left, left, left, and (if not at Pocono) a final left. That is usually how it goes each week in NASCAR. This week is one of those unusual ones. Eleven turns at Watkins Glen and seven of them are right. I think these road courses provide more exciting NASCAR races than some ovals, including Indianapolis. Let the arguing begin.

Hot 20 – Michigan will be great, because Stone Cold Keselowski said so

A new aero package combined with reduced down and side force should mean more passing at Michigan this weekend, as well as at Kentucky later in the year. Wonderful, just wonderful. Now all that needs to happen is that it actually happens.

Hot 20 – At least the Kansas race this year is not sponsored by SpongeBob or the Ninja Turtles

Brand names, especially strong memorable ones, can truly make an event stand out. The Daytona 500, the Southern 500, and the Brickyard 400 have meaning or should, with proper marketing. The Firecracker 400, Old Dominion 500, Mason-Dixon 500 all had a ring to them, not the ka-ching ring they were tossed aside for.

The Final Word – Talladega; what could possibly go wrong?

Bad things happen at Talladega. If you are not barrel rolling or wall smacking, you just had yourself a nice, pleasant day in Alabama. That kind of thing, in fact, can get you a win, as was the case with Brad Keselowski on Sunday.

Hot 20 – NASCAR gives Tony grief last week, and now some relief at Talladega

Just a week after Tony Stewart criticized NASCAR for its rather lax rules regarding tightened lug nuts, and having to cough up a $35,000 fine for doing so, guess who is once again mandating that all lug nuts be tightened? Apparently there are no “whistler blower” provisions in effect when it comes to spotlighting stupidity.

Hot 20 – Excitement at Bristol, more expected for Richmond, but does anyone give a damn?

Six of our Hot 20 are champions, one a former six-time title holder. Richmond has been on the schedule since the 1950s. Does it matter? It still does to me.

Hot 20 at Bristol, where everyone will wind up hot at one time or another

I get it. Some folks watch NASCAR for the wrecks. They probably do not watch often, maybe taking in the action from Daytona or Talladega, where one bad move causes a whole lot of bad tidings. I love those tracks, too, but I love watching people doing exciting things that I simply cannot.

Hot 20 – If you’re going to play in Texas, you got to have a Biffle in the band

This Saturday night, the boys and girl head west. The way I hear it, if you are going to play in Texas, you got to have a Biffle in the band. That may be true, and it may be a fact this weekend, but sadly such edicts do not include our Hot 20. Greg sits 16 points shy. Maybe the following week.

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