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Who is Hot and Not ahead of the Cup regular-season finale at Richmond

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Richmond Raceway may or may not be a crapshoot.

In the last six races at the .75-mile track, six different drivers have visited victory lane.

The last driver to repeat as a winner at the “Action Track” is Joey Logano. He won in April and in the spring 2014 race.

Logano will be desperate to win this weekend. The Team Penske driver has to win Saturday to make the playoffs after his April win was deemed ineligible for the playoffs after his car failed inspection.

If his performance over all the Cup Series’ short tracks this season continues, Logano may have a good chance.

Logano has finished in the top five in three of the four short track races so far, the most of all drivers. His worst finish was 13th in the Bristol night race.

But Logano may want to give extra attention to qualifying. In that same six-race stretch of unique winners, each of them started in the top five.

Here is who is hot and not ahead of the Federated Auto Parts 400.

Who is Hot

Denny Hamlin
• Won at Darlington for his second win of the season (New Hampshire). Was encumbered for failing inspection.
• Top-four finishes in eight of the last 11 races, including two wins.
• Three Richmond wins, all in the fall including this race last year.
• Worst finish in the last four races at Richmond is sixth. Finished was third in April.

Kyle Busch
• Finished second at Darlington. Has finished in the top two in three of the last five races.
• Two wins this season, both came in the last five races (Pocono and Bristol).
• Finished top 10 in the last five races for his best streak this season
• Four Richmond wins, all came in the spring race.

Kevin Harvick
• Finished ninth at Darlington after winning the pole.
• Finished top 10 in 14 of the last 19 races of 2017.
• Three Richmond wins, but all with Richard Childress Racing.
• Finished fifth in the last three races at Richmond.

Erik Jones
• Finished fifth at Darlington, top-five finishes in the last three races.
• Finished top 10 in the last five races for best streak of his career.
• One start at Richmond. Accident on Lap 4 in April resulted in finishing 38th.

Who is Not

Jimmie Johnson.
• Finished 12th at Darlington for sixth straight race without a top-10 finish.
• One top 10 in his last 10 races (10th at New Hampshire).
• Three top-five finishes this season, all wins.
• Three Richmond wins. Last came in 2008.

Kasey Kahne
• Finished 24th at Darlington. Has only one top-10 finish in the last 15 races, a win at Indy.
• Six DNFs from accidents this season.
• One Richmond win in 2005, the first Cup win of his career.
• Finished 22nd in April.

Joey Logano
• Finished 18th at Darlington.
• Ten finishes outside the top 20 in the last 16 races.
• Won at Richmond in April but finish was encumbered after his car failed inspection.

Chase Elliott
• Finished 11th at Darlington. Has only two top 10s in the last seven races.
• In four Richmond starts, best finish was 12th in April 2016.
• Finished 24th at Richmond in April.

Truck practice report at Atlanta

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Justin Haley was the fastest in the first of two practices Friday for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He had a top lap of 178.029 mph.

Daytona winner Johnny Sauter was second with a lap of 177.040 mph. He was followed by Myatt Snider (177.040 mph), Stewart Friesen (176.995) and Noah Gragson (176.589).

There were no incidents in the session.

Final Truck practice will be from 4:05 – 4:50 p.m. ET.

Click here for Truck 1 practice

Police investigating vandalism, theft at North Wilkesboro Speedway

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The Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a report of vandalism and theft at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, the track, which last hosted a NASCAR Cup race in 1996, suffered damage of about $10,000 when several trespassers were on the grounds last weekend. No arrests have been made.

The report states that several windows were broken and other damage was done to the structures. Also, large amounts of electrical wire and circuit breakers were reported missing.

The investigation continues.

North Wilkesboro Speedway hosted NASCAR Cup races from 1949-96. Winners included Fireball Roberts, Buck Baker, Junior Johnson, Lee Petty, Richard Petty, David Pearson, Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Allison, Dale Earnhardt, Terry Labonte, Rusty Wallace and Jeff Gordon, who won the final race there.

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Others’ predictions motivating Austin Dillon after Daytona 500 win: ‘I guess they don’t believe it yet’

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HAMPTON, Ga. – Fresh off the greatest victory of his NASCAR career, Austin Dillon already has motivation to win the next.

The Richard Childress Racing driver heard others predict this week that the Daytona 500 would be his only victory this season.

“I think on Race Hub, Brad (Keselowski) and Chad (Knaus, crew chief for Jimmie Johnson) saying that we weren’t going to win again,” Dillon said Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. “So, that was good to hear. That was something to get me fired up a little bit more and our team, get those competitive juices flowing again. So, we will just keep rocking it however we can. We still have a lot to work on.”

Prior to Daytona, Dillon’s lone win in four seasons as a full-time Cup driver came in the 2017 Coca-Cola 600. His No. 3 Chevrolet qualified for the playoffs the past two seasons, but his top 10s (13 to four) and average finish (15.9 to 18.6) slipped demonstrably from 2016 to ’17.

“So yesterday in my group text with my buddies they watched Chad Knaus and Brad Keselowski, and it was like, ‘All right, it’s time to keep knocking them down, I guess they don’t believe it yet,’” Dillon said. “We’ve got to step up though at RCR. We’ve still got a lot to prove. It’s a speedway race, even though it’s the biggest race in our deal, it’s a speedway race.  We’ve got a lot more to prove.

“(Competition executive) Andy Petree and all the guys are RCR are working hard. I think coming down to a two-car team move is big for us. We’ve got to take advantage of that. I’m not going to lie, I’m tired right now, but we are going to kick butt this weekend and get back regrouped and get in the groove and try and gain as many bonus points as we can.”

But qualifying for the playoffs by winning the season opener should be a morale booster that avoids any letdown.

“The one thing they don’t have right now that we have is a win,” Dillon said. “So, we are on top right now, and no matter what they can’t take that away, and we are going to keep working.  I don’t expect us to lay down at all. I feel like now more than ever we need to go head on and go after it.”

Xfinity practice report from Atlanta

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Christopher Bell posted the fastest lap in the first of two Xfinity practice sessions Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Bell posted a lap of 178.447 mph. He was followed by Joey Logano (177.323 mph), Cole Custer (175.933), Ryan Reed (175.688) and Kevin Harvick (175.487). Daytona winner Tyler Reddick (175.388) was sixth on the speed chart.

There were no incidents in the session.

Final Xfinity practice will be from 3:05 – 3:55 p.m. ET

Click here for practice 1 report