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Who is Hot, Not entering the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte

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Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick could use a win.

While both drivers have advanced to the second round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, neither driver has won since June.

Harvick won his only race of the year at Sonoma Raceway and Johnson hasn’t found victory lane since earning his third win of the year at Dover that month.

Luckily for them, Charlotte Motor Speedway awaits.

Site of Sunday’s Bank of America 500 (2 p.m. ET on NBC), the 1.5-mile track has played host to eight Johnson victories and three for Harvick. The two drivers are also the only ones who have earned multiple wins at the track in the last 18 events there.

When it comes to playoff races in Charlotte, Johnson again stands above the rest as the only repeat winner with four consecutive victories (May 2004 through October 2005). Johnson arrives in Charlotte as the defending winner of the race. He was two laps from claiming the Coke 600 in May before a fuel gamble came up short.

Harvick last won the at Charlotte in the 2014 edition of this race. You’re forgiven if you forgot about that, as it was the race that saw the post-race Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski altercation between haulers.

Here’s who is hot and not among playoff drivers entering the Bank of America 500.

Who is Hot

Kyle Busch

• Finished 15th at Chicago and won at Dover, New Hampshire.
• Four wins this season, all came in the last nine races.
• Started on the front row in all three races of Round 1.
• Never won at Charlotte in 27 starts. Best results in second three times including in May.

Brad Keselowski

• Finished sixth at Chicago, fourth at New Hampshire and 10th at Dover.
• Only three top-10 finishes in the last eight races but all came in the playoffs.
• Finished fourth in first round points.
• One Charlotte win, in this race in 2013.

Kyle Larson

• Finished fifth at Chicago, second at New Hampshire, fifth at Dover.
• Eight runner-up finishes this season.
• Finished top five in the last four races this season.
• Only two top 10s in eight Charlotte starts.

Chase Elliott
• Finished second at Chicago (encumbered), 11th at New Hampshire and second at Dover.
• Finished fifth in Round 1 of the playoffs.
• Worst finish in the last five races is 11th (New Hampshire, Darlington).
• One top-10 finish at Charlotte in four starts, eighth in the 2016 Coke 600.

Who is Not

Kevin Harvick

• Finished third at Chicago, 36th DNF at New Hampshire and 17th at Dover.
• Five fewer top fives and top 10s than at this point last year.
• Finished Round 1 ninth in the standings.
• Three Charlotte wins, all in the last 14 races

Ryan Blaney

• Finished 11th at Chicago, ninth at New Hampshire and 23rd at Dover.
• Finished 10th in Round 1.
• Last top-five finish was his win at Pocono in June.
• Ten top-10 finishes this season but none have come in back-to-back races.
• Five Charlotte starts. Best finish of 14th in this race in 2015.

Jamie McMurray

• Finished 10th at Chicago, 16th at New Hampshire and ninth at Dover.
• Finished 11th in the Round 1 standings.
• Fifteen top-10 finishes this season, six more than at this point last year.
• Only top 10 in last five Charlotte races. Finished 12th in May.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

• Finished 25th at Chicago, 15th at New Hampshire and 19th at Dover.
• Last top 10 was his win at Daytona in July.
• Finished Round 1 12th in the standings.
• No wins in first 157 starts. Has two wins in last 20 starts.

AJ Allmendinger making return to Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2018

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After a one-year absence, AJ Allmendinger will return to the Rolex 24 at Daytona next month.

Allmendinger, who drives for JTG Daugherty Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series, will once again drive for Michael Shank Racing in the endurance race at Daytona International Speedway, which will be held Jan. 27 – 28.

A winner in the 2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona, Allmendinger will split time in the No. 93 Acura NSX GT3 in the GTD class with Justin Marks, Lawson Aschenbach and Mario Farnbacher.

Allmendinger drove for Michael Shank Racing in the endurance race from 2014-16. His best result during that stretch was fifth in the Prototype class in 2015.

“I am pumped to be back racing for Shank in the (Rolex) 24. I missed the race last year and I hated to, so I’m really glad to be back,” Allmendinger said in a press release. “His whole team did an awesome job with the Acura last year and it is awesome to be back with him for the Rolex. After racing for the overall win so many years in Prototypes, it will be a completely different experience to be racing in the GTD class, but I’m looking forward to it. Mike (Shank) always puts an awesome team together and this year is no different so I am counting down to get my first shot in this car.”

Allmendinger is coming off his fourth full year of driving the No. 47 Chevrolet for JTG Daugherty Racing. He finished the season 27th in the standings, his worst during his tenure with the team. He earned one top five and five top 10s.

Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s to sponsor RCR in Cup, Xfinity in 2018

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Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s will sponsor Richard Childress Racing in multiple races in the Cup and Xfinity Series next year, the team announced Monday.

Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s merged in September 2017.

The outdoors brands will be on Ryan Newman‘s No. 31 Chevrolet during the 60th Daytona 500 on Feb. 18 and in several other races during the season.

Richard Childress Racing

They will also be a primary sponsor for Austin and Ty Dillon on the No. 3 Chevrolet in the Xfinity Series for several races.

“Our relationship with Bass Pro Shops dates back to the mid-1990s and we’re thrilled to be able to continue it during the 2018 season,” team owner Richard Childress said in a press release. “Austin, Ty and Ryan are terrific ambassadors for the great outdoors. They are all passionate about our hunting, fishing and conservation heritage which has made this partnership thrive.

“Next season will be exciting as we welcome Cabela’s, the iconic outdoor brand acquired by Bass Pro Shops, to the RCR family.”

Bass Pro Shops, founded in 1972 by Johnny Morris, is also a primary sponsor of Martin Truex Jr.’s No. 78 Toyota owned by Furniture Row Racing.

The store chain will be on the hood of the No. 78 in 16 races and on the sides of it in 14 others.

Here’s the eligible drivers for the 2018 Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona

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NASCAR has officially announced the 20 drivers who are eligible to take part in the Cup Series’ season-opening Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona International Speedway.

The 75-lap exhibition event is set for 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, Feb. 11, the same day as qualifying for the Feb. 18 Daytona 500.

The race will be divided into two segments. A competition caution on Lap 25 will divide them.

Drivers become eligible for the Clash by winning a pole the previous season, being a Daytona 500 pole-winner who competed full-time the previous season or being a playoff driver the previous season.

Here are the eligible drivers.

2017 Coors Light Pole Award Winners (14)

Former Daytona 500 Coors Light Pole Award Winners (3)

2017 Playoff Drivers (3)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth are not expected to compete in the race. Earnhardt retired from Cup competition following the 2017 season and Kenseth doesn’t have a ride for the 2018 season.

Danica Patrick, the 2013 Daytona 500 pole-sitter, announced last month she was done as a full-time driver but that she planned to race in the Daytona 500. No definitive team plans have been announced for her.

NASCAR Hall of Famer Jack Ingram injury update: still in ICU, but continues to show progress

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NASCAR Hall of Famer Jack Ingram continues to show improvement from the serious injuries he suffered in a December 3 car crash in his native Asheville, North Carolina.

In an update Sunday written on CaringBridge.org, Ingram’s daughter, Ingrid Jones, said her father remains in the Intensive Care Unit at Asheville’s Mission Hospital.

According to Jones:

“Daddy continues to hold his own, making healing steps forward and then a step back, which we fully expected-but he’s surprising us each and every day with his strength and courage to overcome this. Overall, he’s doing amazingly well.”

Ingram’s family had hoped he could have moved out of ICU and into the Trauma Unit as the next phase of his recovery, but he remains in intensive care.

Said Jones:

“For now, he’ll remain in ICU until he can go a full 24 hours without ventilator assisted breathing. We’re almost there … but may still be a few days.”

Ingram, who turns 81 on Dec. 28, was able to sit in a chair and watched part of Sunday’s NFL game between the Carolina Panthers and Minnesota Vikings with his family. Jones wrote that Ingram also was surprised to learn that the mountain near the family’s Asheville-area home received a total of 16 inches of snow Friday and Saturday.

Jones added, “We continue to be optimistic for his health, and we also continue to appreciate the prayers and encouraging thoughts.”