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Who is hot and not in the Cup Series ahead of Watkins Glen

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For a long time the biggest names in NASCAR road course racing were Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart.

They’re gone, enjoying retirement.

So who does that leave?

As of June’s race at Sonoma Raceway, only Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch can claim to have won multiple road course races in the Cup Series.

Harvick’s Sonoma win joins his 2006 victory at Watkins Glen International, where the Cup Series returns this weekend for the I Love New York 355.

Busch, who just claimed his first win of the year at Pocono, leads all active drivers with four road course wins. His last came in 2015 when he won at Sonoma for his first win back from leg injuries.

Here’s who is hot and not going into this weekend’s race.

Who is Hot

Clint Bowyer
• Finished sixth at Pocono and won Stage 2 for first stage win of 2017.
• Has finished runner-up three times in 2017.
• Nine top 10s in 2017, had three in all of 2016.
• Top-10 finishes in three of the last five races at Watkins Glen.

Kyle Busch
• Won from the pole at Pocono, first win of 2017 and at Pocono.
• Pocono win ended a career-long 36-race winless streak.
• Led 1,114 laps this season, second most to Martin Truex Jr. Led the most laps six times including in the last two races.

Denny Hamlin
• Finished fourth at Pocono. Top-four finishes in five of the last seven races including a win at New Hampshire.
• Won at Watkins Glen last year. His best finish in the prior six WGI starts was 19th.
• Finished top four in the last three races on road courses.

Kevin Harvick
• Finished second at Pocono. Finished in top 10 in 12 of the last 15 races, including the last four races.
• Won at Sonoma in June, only win so far this season.

Who is Not

AJ Allmendinger
• Four top 10s in 2017, two were in the last five races.
• Only series win came at Watkins Glen in 2014.
• Watkins Glen is his best track with a win, three top fives, five top 10s and an average finish of 9.3.

Austin Dillon
• Finished 21st at Pocono, only one top-15 finish in the last seven races.
• Won on fuel mileage in Coke 600.
• Only two top-10 finishes this season, had nine at this point last year.
• Three starts at Watkins Glen with a best finish of 16th in 2014.

Ryan Blaney
• Finished 30th at Pocono.
• Has not had back-to-back top-10 finishes this season.
• Only one top 10 in the last five races (10th at Kentucky).
• Started and finished 19th in first Watkins Glen Cup start last year.

Jimmie Johnson
• Finished 35th at Pocono after crash. DNF in three of his last four races.
• One top 10 in his last six races.
• Three top-five finishes this season, all wins.
• Watkins Glen is one of three winless tracks (Kentucky and Chicagoland).
• Best Watkins Glen finish in 15 starts is third, twice.

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Points leader Elliott Sadler clinches Xfinity playoff spot after finishing third at Bristol

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Even though he hasn’t won this year, Elliott Sadler earned himself a spot in the Xfinity Series playoffs Friday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Sadler is the fourth driver to qualify for the playoffs. He joins Ryan Reed, William Byron and Justin Allgaier, who clinched spots through race wins.

The JR Motorsports driver and the series points leader finished third in the Food City 300 for his ninth top five of the year.

“Man, we had a great car,” Sadler told NBCSN. “I hit the wall with like 50 to go. Then I threw my water bottle out and it got in the jack man’s way, messed us up. We’re peaking at the right time.”

Sadler has led the Xfinity Series point standings for the last 10 races and following 20 of the 22 races this year.

Following Sadler in the top five is William Byron (-110), Allgaier (-136), Brennan Poole (-186) and Daniel Hemric (-206).

Brendan Gaughan is on the playoff bubble. He is 43 points above the cutoff line. Ross Chastain is 13th on the playoff grid.

Click here for the point standings.

Results, stats for the Xfinity Series race at Bristol

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Kyle Busch won the Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway for his fifth Xfinity Series win of the year.

He led 186 laps and swept all three stages.

Completing the top five were Daniel Suarez, Elliott Sadler, Ty Dillon and Justin Allgaier.

Click here for full results.

Kyle Busch wins Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway


Kyle Busch once again dominated a NASCAR race at Bristol Motor Speedway, winning Friday night’s Food City 300.

Busch led 186 laps on the way to the win, his fifth Xfinity Series victory of the season.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver fended off the field in a nine-lap shootout following a late caution.

The top five was completed by Daniel Suarez, Elliott Sadler, Ty Dillon and Justin Allgaier.

Busch moved one step closer to a sweep of the race week. He won Wednesday’s Camping World Truck Series race. If he wins Saturday’s Cup race, it will be the second time he’s swept all three Bristol races after doing it in 2010.

Just like Wednesday, Busch fought through the field after a mid-race speeding penalty to earn the win.

“At least I didn’t have to come through (the field) in the last stage because everybody was pretty fast there tonight in the last stage,” Busch said. “I don’t know if I would have been able to make it all the way back up through there. Suárez gave us a heck of a run there. I was trying to push hard and he was closing in on us a little bit there before that last caution came out. Once that caution came out everything cooled down and my car wasn’t even close to what it was before, so I don’t know how I held on to it. The car was just so sideways.”

The win is Busch’s 91st in the Xfinity Series.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Kyle Busch

STAGE 2 WINNER: Kyle Busch

MORE: Race Results

MORE: Points standings

WHO HAD A GOOD NIGHT: Allgaier led twice for 75 laps and earned his sixth top five of the season … Sadler led once for 15 laps and clinched a spot in the playoffs … Ty Dillon earned his second top five of the season and beset finish in 19 starts … Joey Logano bounced back from a flat tire and going to two laps down to finish ninth.

WHO HAD A BAD NIGHT: Ryan Reed and Aric Almirola wrecked on Lap 25 after they pinched Spencer Gallagher on the backstretch. Almirola finished 38th. … Reed caused the following caution after damage from the previous wreck cut a tire, sending him into the wall. Reed finished 37th … Brendan Gaughan had one unscheduled pit stop for a tire rub. He was then involved in a crash with 15 to go after being tagged by Jeb Burton, who had lost a tire. He finished 30th … William Byron lost a tire with less than 10 to go and had to pit. He finished 22nd.

NOTABLE: With his win, Busch is nine wins away from reaching 100 Xfinity wins. Busch has said he’ll retire from Xfinity competition once he reaches 100 … Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 13th in his first Xfinity start of the year.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “Two weeks in a row. I know he doesn’t have a lot of race and I like him a lot normally, but right now I’m going to knock the hell out of him. The first time he gave me a flat and the second time he says he blew a tire. If you know you’ve got a tire going then don’t drive underneath somebody. The last couple of weeks I’ve been driven with no respect. We put ourselves back in a decent spot and we’re going to go to Road America and win that sucker.” – Brendan Gaughan after his late wreck with Jeb Burton.

NEXT: Johnsonville 180 at Road America at 3 p.m. ET on Aug. 27 on NBC.

Starting lineup for Cup night race at Bristol

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Erik Jones and Kyle Larson will start on the front row of the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway (coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC).

Jones starts from his first Cup pole.

Completing the top five are Kasey Kahne, Chase Elliott and Matt Kenseth.

Click here for the starting lineup.