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Who’s Hot and Who’s Not heading into Sunday’s race at Texas

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Three races remain in the Cup season: Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, Nov. 12 at Phoenix Raceway and Nov. 19 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Two of those races are on 1.5-mile tracks, which Martin Truex Jr. has dominated this season. Six of Truex’s seven races this year have been on 1.5-mile tracks.

Let’s check out Who’s Hot and Who’s Not heading to Texas:

WHO’S HOT:

No. 78 Martin Truex Jr. (Hot)

  • Finished second at Martinsville, spent all but six laps in the top 10
  • Finished top five in six of the seven playoff races
  • 2nd in the standings, +67 to the cutline and 38 ahead of 3rd place Brad Keselowski
  • Seven wins in 2017, the most by a driver since Matt Kenseth had seven in 2013
  • Finished in the top 5 16 times and the top 10 23 times this season, both are the most
  • Won 19 stages this season, the most
  • 69 Playoff Points this season, the most
  • Led a series-high 2,068 laps in 2017, led the most laps in eight races
  • Winless at Texas in 24 starts, runner up in Spring 2013
  • Finished top 10 in the last five races at Texas, led in the last four
  • Six wins on 1.5-mile tracks in 2017, most ever in a season, won the last four
  • Finished top five in all nine 1.5-mile races this season
  • Martin Truex Jr. Look ahead to Phoenix:
  • Best Phoenix finish is fifth in 2009
  • Only one top-10 finish in the last seven Phoenix races
  • Finished 11th at Phoenix in March

No. 18 Kyle Busch (HOT)

  • Won at Martinsville on last-lap pass, his third win of the playoffs
  • Advances to compete for the championship at Miami for the third time in the elimination format
  • Five wins this season, all in the last 13 races
  • Led laps in the last 16 races this season, a personal best and the best streak ever among the active 
drivers
  • Two-time Texas winner, both came in his last eight starts there
  • Finished top 15 in his last 10 Texas starts (seven top fives)
  • Finished 15th at Texas in April
  • Led laps in the last six 1.5-mile races
  • Finished top 10 in four of the last six 1.5-mile races
  • Kyle Busch Look ahead to Phoenix:
  • One Phoenix win, this race in 2005
  • Finished top five in the last four Phoenix races, including leading 114 laps finishing 3rd in March

No. 11 Denny Hamlin (Hot)

  • Finished fourth at Charlotte, sixth at Talladega, fifth at Kansas, seventh at Martinsville
  • Finished top 10 in eight of the last 10 races
  • Won both races at Texas in 2010, his only wins there in 23 starts, but has only three top-10 finishes 
there in the 12 races since with no top fives
  • Finished 25th at Texas in April
  • Top-five finishes in the last five 1.5-mile races, his longest streak ever
  • Denny Hamlin Look ahead to Phoenix:
  • Finished top 10 in each of the last four races at Phoenix including a 10th in March
  • Won at Phoenix in Spring 2012

No. 2 Brad Keselowski (Good)

  • Finished fourth at Martinsville, led 108 laps after winning both stages, lost the lead with five laps to go
  • Third in points, +29 to the cutline
  • Advanced to the Round of 8 with his win at Talladega
  • Winless at Texas in 18 starts, best finish of second in this race in 2015 after leading 312 of 334 laps
  • Finished top 10 in seven of the last 10 races at Texas (sixth there in April)
  • Only one top 10 in the last five 1.5-mile races (sixth at Chicagoland)
  • Brad Keselowski Look Ahead to Phoenix:
  • Winless at Phoenix in 16 starts, best finish of third in 2014
  • Finished top 10 in five of the last seven races at Phoenix, including 5th in March

No. 4 Kevin Harvick (Decent)

  • Finished fifth at Martinsville, fifth was the highest he ran all day
  • Four top-10 finishes in the playoffs and three finishes of 17th or worse
  • Currently fourth in points, +3 to the cutline
  • Winless at Texas in 29 starts, two-time runner up
  • Finished in the top 10 in the last six races at Texas (fourth in April)
  • Top 10 finishes in eight of the nine 1.5-mile races this season, second most of all drivers
  • Kevin Harvick Look ahead to Phoenix:
  • Won six of the last 10 races at Phoenix, eight total
  • Finished top six in the last eight Phoenix races
  • Failed to lead in the last two Phoenix races

No. 21 Ryan Blaney (Solid runs lately)

  • Finished eighth at Martinsville, scored points in both stages
  • Finished top 10 in four of the last six races
  • Sixth in points, -6 to the cutline
  • Five Texas starts with a best finish of 12th in each of the last two races there
  • Led 148 laps at Texas in April but finished 12th after sliding through his pit box from eighth on his last 
stop
  • Only two finishes outside the top 12 on 1.5-mile tracks this season
  • Ryan Blaney Look ahead to Phoenix:
  • Top 10 finishes in two of his three Phoenix starts, best of eighth in this race last year
  • Finished 23rd in March after starting second

No. 24 Chase Elliott (His time is coming)

  • Finished 27th at Martinsville after late-race wreck with Denny Hamlin while leading. He led 123 laps.
  • Four top-five finishes in the playoffs rank second to Martin Truex Jr. (six)
  • Eighth in points, -26 to the cutline
  • Finished top 10 in all three of his Cup Texas starts with a best of fourth in October 2016
  • Got his first Xfinity win at Texas in April 2014
  • Finished top four in the last four 1.5-mile races
  • Chase Elliott Look ahead to Phoenix:
  • Best Phoenix finish is eighth, worst is 12th in three races
  • Finished 12th in March at Phoenix, led 106 laps

No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Best streak of season and is good at Texas)

  • Finished 11th at Martinsville
  • Finished top 12 in the last five races, best streak this season, including three top 10s
  • One Texas win, his first career win in 2000
  • Finished top six in his last five races at Texas
  • Finished top 10 in 10 of his last 12 Texas starts

WHO’S NOT HOT:

No. 48 Jimmie Johnson (Just doesn’t seem to have it lately)

  • Finished 12th at Martinsville after starting at the rear, just didn’t have that normal Martinsville look
  • Only one top-five finish in the last 20 races
  • Top 10 finishes in four of the last eight races
  • Four top-five finishes this season, three were wins
  • Seven-time winner at Texas, most of all drivers
  • Won six of the last 10 Texas races including the race there in April
  • Only three top 10s in the nine races on 1.5-mile tracks this season, one top five (Texas win)
  • Jimmie Johnson Look ahead to Phoenix:
  • Four time Phoenix winner but none since 2009
  • Only two top-10 finishes at Phoenix in the last six races there
  • Finished ninth at Phoenix in March

No. 1 Jamie McMurray (Not – eliminated in Round of 12)

  • Finished 29th at Martinsville, third straight finish of 29th or worse
  • Left the round of 12 in 12th place -48
  • 16 top-10 finishes this season, five more than this point last year
  • Five DNF accidents in 2017
  • Best Texas finish is second in 2005
  • Finished top 10 in four of the last six Texas starts including seventh in April
  • Top-10 finishes in seven of the nine 1.5-mile races this season

No. 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Not)

  • Finished 10th at Martinsville, first top-10 finish since Daytona in July
  • Left the round of 12 in 11th place, -46
  • Best finish of 14th at Texas came in April in nine starts
  • Only two career top-10 finishes on 1.5-mile tracks in 56 starts, less than 4 percent

No. 20 Matt Kenseth (Unlucky)

  • Finished ninth at Martinsville, ran around 10th all day, was first top 10 in the last five races
  • Left the round of 12 in 10th place, -30
  • Two Texas wins, last was 2011
  • Only one top-10 finish in the last five races
  • Only four top-10s in nine 1.5-mile starts this season

No. 42 Kyle Larson (Hot in 2017, Bad last two races)

  • Finished 39th at Kansas and 37th at Martinsville, his worst two finishes in consecutive races since his first two Cup starts
  • Left the round of 12 in 9th place, -9
  • Eight runner-up finishes this season
  • Four wins in 2017, had one entering this season
  • Finished Texas-best second in April
  • Only three top-10 finishes at Texas in eight starts
  • Has yet to lead a lap at Texas
  • Finished runner-up in five of the last 10 1.5-mile races
  • Zero for 45 on 1.5-mile tracks

No. 3 Austin Dillon (Not hot – eliminated in Round of 16)

  • Finished 13th at Martinsville, best finish in the last eight races
  • Only four top-15 finishes in the last 14 races
  • Finished 14th in the first round, -4
  • Only four top-10 finishes this season, had 13 at this point last year
  • Won on fuel mileage at Charlotte earlier this year
  • Best Texas finish is 11th, Fall 2015
  • Finished 33rd at Texas in April

No. 5 Kasey Kahne (Not)

  • Finished 16th at Martinsville, his worst finish in the last five races
  • Only three top-10 finishes in the last 23 races
  • Finished 15th in the first round, -23 to the cut line
  • Six DNFs due to accidents this season
  • Won at Indianapolis ending a 102-race winless streak
  • One Texas win, 2006
  • Finished eighth in three of the last five Texas races, 38th in April (flat tire, contact with wall)

No. 31 Ryan Newman (Not good lately)

  • Finished 14th at Martinsville
  • DNF accident in two of the last four races (40th at Charlotte, 33rd at Kansas)
  • Finished round one 13th in the standings, -2 to the cut line
  • One Texas win, 2003, his second start at Texas
  • Only three top-10 finishes at Texas in the last 18 races there, 26th in April

No. 41 Kurt Busch (Not Hot)

  • Finished 22nd at Martinsville, finished 19th or worse in six of the seven playoff races
  • Finished 16th in the first round, 25 points below the cut line
  • One Texas win, this race in 2009 driving for Team Penske
  • Finished top 10 in four of the last six races at Texas including 10th in April

No. 14 Clint Bowyer (Disappointing 2017)

  • Finished third at Martinsville, first top five finish since Watkins Glen
  • Was 88 points out of a Playoff spot
  • Finished runner-up three times in 2017
  • 13 top-10 finishes in 2017, had three in all of 2016
  • Best Texas finish is second in 2011
  • Finished 11th at Texas in April, best finish in the last six races there

No. 22 Joey Logano (Disappointing season)

  • Finished 24th at Martinsville, flat tire after contact with Kyle Busch in final laps
  • Thirteen finishes outside the top 20 in the last 24 races
  • Won at Richmond after starting in the rear due to a transmission change, but win was ruled 
encumbered due to illegal suspension
  • First time he missed the playoffs with Team Penske
  • Finished top five in seven of the last nine Texas starts including a win in Spring 2014
  • Finished top three in the last three Texas races

Kevin Harvick penalized time in final Cup practice

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HOMESTEAD, Florida — Title contender Kevin Harvick will miss 15 minutes of Saturday’s final practice because of inspection issues last weekend at Phoenix.

Harvick is the only one among the four title contenders who will miss practice time Saturday.

Final practice is from 1 – 1:50 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

David Starr is the only driver who missed time in Saturday’s first practice. He missed 15 minutes because his team was late to qualifying inspection Friday.

Jimmie Johnson, David Ragan and Michael McDowell will each miss 30 minutes of final practice because their cars failed qualifying inspection three times Friday.

Harvick, Chase Elliott, Cole Whitt and Starr each will miss 15 minutes of final practice because their cars failed inspection twice before last weekend’s Phoenix race.

Austin Dillon and Matt DiBenedetto each will miss 15 minutes of final practice because their cars failed inspection before qualifying twice Friday.

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Justin Allgaier ‘in the best place mentally’ a year after disappointing title finish

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The biggest disappointment of Justin Allgaier‘s NASCAR career has turned into “the best thing that’s ever happened” to it.

It only took “about a week” for the 31-year-old driver to accept that.

The JR Motorsports’ driver is one of the four competing for the Xfinity Series title in today’s Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

It was in this race a year ago that Allgaier was within arm’s reach of a possible championship, his first in NASCAR.

But it was snatched away on the final restart.

With three laps to go, Allgaier restarted in the third row on the outside. In front of him was fellow championship driver Erik Jones. In front of Jones was Cole Whitt in a car normally found toward the back of the pack. Whitt had not pit under the caution because his team had used up its tire allotment.

Elliott Sadler (far right) and Daniel Suarez pull away on the final restart of last year’s Xfinity race at Homestead as Justin Allgaier (red car, middle) boxed in. (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

At the green flag, Whitt spun his tires and backed-up the outside lane. That allowed Elliott Sadler and Daniel Suarez to get separation from Allgaier and Jones and race each other for the win and championship, which Suarez claimed.

“We’re sitting here and not standing on that (championship) stage over there like I think all of us would have liked to have been,” Allgaier said after he finished sixth.

Before Allgaier could come to terms with anything positive from the experience, he spent the following week just wanting to be left alone.

“If I could have locked myself in a dark room and not talk(ed) to anyone, I’d have been perfectly okay with that,” Allgaier said Thursday during the NASCAR championship media day in Miami Beach, Florida.

Allgaier got back in touch with those year-old feelings this week when he watched a replay of the race while flying to Florida.

“It still bugs me that we didn’t have a shot because of somebody else’s decision,” Allgaier said.

But Allgaier views the end of the 2016 race through a wiser lens. One where he accepts there’s only so much he can do in a 200-lap race against 39 other drivers.

“What if I had broken a transmission or run into the wall a little bit too hard on one of those times that I got (into) the wall like 37 times in the race last year and cut a tire?” Allgaier said. “What if a meteor fell out of the sky? … There’s so many things that, when you have 40 competitors on the racetrack every week, there’s so many things that can happen that are out of your control.”

His attitude has been helped by the best year of his career. Allgaier enters the championship race with a career-best two wins – including at his home track Chicagoland Speedway.

Allgaier also leads all Xfinity regulars with 497 laps led.

 “I look at 2017 as we have done everything we can do up to this point,” Allgaier said. “We’ve had the best race cars I’ve ever had. We’ve had great pit stops. We’ve got guys that work together on the race team that are incredible. I feel like for me personally I’m in the best shape of my life, on and off the track. I’m in the best place mentally.

“And at the end of the day, no matter what happens on Saturday night, I know that we have the best product on the racetrack and we’re in the best position we can be. And if it doesn’t work, it’s not because we weren’t in the right spot or because we didn’t do things right. It’s because circumstances are out of our control. And that’s taken so much pressure off of me this year.”

MORE: Previewing the Xfinity championship drivers

 

Goodyear signs extension with NASCAR

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HOMESTEAD, Florida — NASCAR announced Saturday a multi-year renewal with Goodyear for the company to be the series’ sole tire supplier. The deal goes through the 2022 season.

The move wasn’t in doubt with NASCAR and Goodyear having previously done tests for the 2018 season. Goodyear has been the exclusive tire supplier for all three of NASCAR’s top series since 1997. Goodyear has been a race tire supplier for NASCAR since 1954.

“We proudly join Goodyear in celebrating our renewed and longstanding partnership,” said Brent Dewar, NASCAR president, in a statement. “For more than half a century, NASCAR and our teams have trusted Goodyear tires. Our partners’ commitment to innovation and excellence plays a key role in our unyielding pursuit to deliver the best racing product in the world.”

Goodyear’s current five-year deal was set to expire after this season.

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Today’s Xfinity race at Miami: Start time, weather, TV/radio info

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The Xfinity season comes to an end this afternoon with the Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Elliott Sadler, Justin Allgaier, Daniel Hemric and William Byron will race for title in the 200-lap race, which concludes the 33-race season that began in February at Daytona.

Below is all the vital info you need prior to the race.

(All times are Eastern)

START: Wild Bill Wichrowski from Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch” will give the command to start engines at 3:37 p.m. Green flag is scheduled for 3:45 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 200 laps (300 miles) around the 1.5-mile oval.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 45. Stage 2 ends at Lap 90.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: Garage opens at 7:30 a.m. Qualifying is slated for 11:15 a.m. Driver/crew chief meeting is 12:45 p.m. Driver introductions are at 3:05 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Jacqie Rivers wil perform the anthem at 3:31 p.m.

TV/RADIO:  Countdown to Green begins at 3 p.m. on NBCSN. NBCSN will air the race at 3:30 p.m. Motor Racing Network will broadcast the race on radio and at mrn.com, starting with its pre-race show at 3 p.m. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com site predicts a temperature of 79 degrees and a four percent chance of rain at race time.

LAST TIME: Daniel Suarez won the race and clinched the series title, beating Ty Dillon and Elliott Sadler. Suarez led 133 laps from the pole to become the first foreign-born driver to win a national NASCAR title.

STARTING LINEUP: Qualifying is scheduled for 11:15 a.m.