Who is hot and cold entering the Sprint Cup season finale

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Only two of the drivers in the Championship 4 have won at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

They both receive a paycheck from Joe Gibbs Racing.

Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch have combined to win on the 1.5-mile track three times, with Busch winning last year to clinch his first Sprint Cup title.

Meanwhile, Jimmie Johnson, who has won 79 times in his Sprint Cup career, has never won the final race of the season. Homestead represents one of four tracks the six-time champion has yet to conquer in 15 starts. He’s finished second twice, but not since 2010.

The fourth piece of the Championship 4 puzzle is Joey Logano. If the 26-year-old driver wins on Sunday in the Ford EcoBoost 400, it would be the first win for Team Penske at the 1.5-mile track. It and Indianapolis Motor Speedway are the only active Sprint Cup tracks Penske has not won at.

Logano’s best finish in seven starts is fourth last season.

Here is who is hot and cold entering the 2016 Sprint Cup season finale.

Who’s Hot

Kyle Busch

  • Finished in the top five in every Round of 8 race.
  • Finished top 10 in nine of last 10 races.
  • Seventeen top-five finishes this season, most of all drivers and tied for his most in a season.
  • Has not won since the Brickyard 400 in July.

Carl Edwards

  • Only three top 10s in last 11 races but won at Texas to earn spot in Championship 4.
  • Three wins this season are his most since winning nine in 2008.
  • Despite two wins at Homestead-Miami Speedway, had finished outside the top 10 in last four visits.

Joey Logano

  • Won at Phoenix International Raceway to clinch Championship 4 spot.
  • Finished top 10 in 19 of last 23 races.
  • Two top 10s in last seven visits to the 1.5-mile track, all came in last three seasons. Led 72 laps last year.

Jimmie Johnson

  • 468 laps led in the 2016 Chase, 266 in the regular season.
  • Homestead-Miami Speedway is one of four winless tracks. Has finished second there twice.
  • Finished ninth in the last three visits.
  • Finished 38th at Phoenix after a pit penalty and radiator damage on a restart accident.

Who’s Cold

Tony Stewart

  • Only one finish better than 13th in last 13 races.
  • Finished 17th or worse in last three season finales.
  • Only led 36 laps this season, 60 laps in last two seasons.

Martin Truex Jr.

  • One top five in last six races.
  • Finished last twice in last four races (Phoenix, Talladega).
  • Average finish of 13.3 is down from 12.2 last season.

Kurt Busch

  • Only five top-10 finishes in the last 14 races after earning 14 of the first 16 races of the season.
  • Was eighth in Round of 8.
  • Has led 238 laps this season after leading 788 in 2015.

Brad Keselowski

  • Finished 14th at Phoenix for fourth finish outside top 10 in last five races.
  • Despite four wins, led only 549 laps this season, down from 1,185 in 2015 and 1,540 in 2014.
  • Average finish of 10.8 is best since 10.1 in 2012 when he won the championship.

Other notes of interest ahead of the Ford EcoBoost 400:

  • Race winner has won the championship three times: Stewart (2011), Harvick (2014) and Kyle Busch (2015).
  • Leader of the most laps has failed to win last five races at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
  • Greg Biffle and Tony Stewart lead all drivers with three wins at the track.
  • Jeff Gordon is only driver to have competed in first 17 races on the track. This will be the first without him.

NASCAR America: Under the radar playoff drivers, Talladega’s playoff placement

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SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s Pete Pistone dropped by NASCAR America for his weekly appearance to discuss the Cup playoffs so far.

Pistone was asked who he thought is the most under the radar driver through five races in the playoffs. He chose Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin.

“We’ve heard from Denny Hamlin on some other things, some off-the-track stuff,” Pistone said. “He’s been in the headlines. But in terms of how he’s running and where’s he’s running, I think we’ve sort of been missing him a little bit.”

Hamlin finished sixth at Talladega for his third top 10 of the playoffs. His worst result so far is 35th (DNF) at Dover for an axle problem.

Kyle Petty asked Pistone who he would rather see eliminated from the playoffs if he were Martin Truex Jr: Jimmie Johnson or Kyle Busch.

“I think I want to see Jimmie Johnson eliminated and the only reason I would say that Kyle is because Jimmie’s been there before, (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) has been there before. We’ve written off Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson even this late in the playoffs before. It’s almost Halloween. They’re sort of like Michael Myers from Halloween, the movie. If you let them up and be alive again they’re going to come and get you with a knife.”

Watch the above video for more.

Kasey Kahne, Matt DiBenedetto marking Cup start milestones at Kansas

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Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway will mark career milestones for Kasey Kahne and Matt DiBenedetto.

Kahne, who is in the final five races of his tenure driving the No. 5 for Hendrick Motorsports, will make his 500th Cup Series start.

DiBenedetto, driver of Go Fas Racing’s No. 32 Ford, will reach the century mark with his 100th Cup start.

The two join the ranks of drivers who have celebrated similar milestones this season.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. marked his 600th start at Auto Club Speedway. Kevin Harvick made his 600th start in the regular-season finale at Richmond Raceway and Kurt Busch made his in the Bristol night race.

Brad Keselowski won Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway in his 300th Cup start.

Kahne, 37,  made his first Cup start in the 2004 Daytona 500 for Evernham Motorsports. The 24-year-old driver won the Rookie of the Year that season, making him the youngest winner of the award at the time since Jeff Gordon earned it at the age of 22 in 1993.

Since then he has earned 18 wins, 92 top fives, 175 top 10s and 27 poles. He has yet to miss a race in his 14-year career in the Cup Series.

DiBenedetto, 26, made his first Cup start on March 15, 2015 in the CampingWorld.com 500 at Phoenix Raceway. The start, in the No. 83 Toyota for BK Racing, came after he failed to qualify for the previous two races at Atlanta and Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

In the two years since, DiBenedetto has earned three top 10s, including two this year in the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400.

His career-best finish is sixth in the April 2016 race at Bristol.

Through 31 races this year, DiBenedetto has an average finish of 26.8, an improvement over his totals in 2015 (32nd) and 2016 (30th).

In five Kansas starts, DiBenedetto’s best result is 24th in the fall 2016 race. His average finish is 28.2.

“I really enjoy racing at Kansas Speedway,” DiBenedetto said in a press release. “Our mile-and-a-half program has been very strong this year and (Crew chief) Gene (Nead) has been giving me fast race cars to compete with. We qualified in the second-round here at Kansas earlier in the season, so that gives us a lot of hope.

“I like the racing at Kansas because you can move around a lot groove-wise and find a line that works with the balance of your race car. I’m usually one of the first people to move up into the high-groove and that seems to help find us some speed. If we can get a balance on the race car like we had in the spring, I know we’ll be fast and competitive.”

NASCAR America: Scan All from the Alabama 500 at Talladega

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“Ol’ Dega is giving me one last thrill.”

That’s the remark Dale Earnhardt Jr. made after he narrowly avoided being collected in the second of three wrecks in the final 16 laps of Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway, his last start at the track.

It’s one of many highlights in the latest edition of “Scan All,” which documents the Alabama 500 at the restrictor-plate track.

In the above video, Brad Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe relive the race, which ended with Keselowski’s sixth win at the track.

Here are more highlights from “Scan All.”

  • Listen to the communication of the No. 48 team as confusion breaks out over whether they can work on Jimmie Johnson‘s car during a red flag.
  • “It is a restrictor-plate race, so I’m not going to promise you anything.” – Brendan Gaughan after remarking he hoped his team wouldn’t have to make too many body repairs. He would be eliminated in a crash with 10 laps to go.
  • “Those stands are packed. They should get a free Dale Jr. autograph.” – Clint Bowyer on the large crowd that took in Earnhardt’s final Cup start at Talladega.
  • “Holy (expletive). What an idiot. That was the absolute stupidest (expletive) thing he’s ever done.” Kyle Busch after a crash involving Jame McMurray, Erik Jones and Jeffrey Earnhardt. The crash began when McMurray slowed down enter pit road and Jones ran into him.
  • Listen as Keselowski and his team struggle to communicate with each other do to a faulty radio system.
  • “How in the (expletive) did we wind up in the (expletive) back? (Expletive) stupid.” – Part of a tirade by Bowyer following a Lap 157 crash that collected him. Bowyer pulled his car into his pit box, exited it, had a brief exchange with his crew chief and walked back to the garage.

Watch the above video for more.

Race distance for Charlotte Motor Speedway road course still TBD

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CONCORD, N.C. — It still might be known as the Bank of America 500, but 500 kilometers might not be the distance of the first road-course race in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

Charlotte Motor Speedway announced Wednesday in the media center during a break in tire testing that next year’s Round of 16 cutoff race would be 500 kilometers or about 130 laps on the 2.42-mile layout. Track officials said it would be the longest road course race on the circuit (roughly 90 miles longer than the events at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International).

That prompted a raft of buzz on social media about a 500-kilometer race that likely would be pushing at least four hours with two stage breaks and a few cautions (lap times were in the 90-second range during the test).

But in a statement early Wednesday evening, NASCAR wouldn’t confirm 500 kilometers as the distance of the Sept. 30 race.

Here’s the statement:

This week’s test provided valuable data that will be part of the equation in determining the distance for next fall’s race. We will continue working closely with our partners to develop the best event for fans and competitors alike.

Asked about NASCAR’s statement, Charlotte Motor Speedway spokesman Scott Cooper said the track still was planning for a 500-kilometer race.

“We’re learning a tremendous amount about the Roval from this week’s test,” Cooper said in an email to NBCSports.com. “Ultimately, we want the most challenging road course race for the drivers and the very best show for the fans, and we’ll continue to work hard to get there.”

A release from the track near the conclusion of the two-day tire test late Wednesday afternoon referred to next season’s race as the Bank of America 500 but didn’t specify the race’s distance.