Who is Hot/Cold entering Sprint Cup regular season finale at Richmond

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Not too long ago, Richmond International Raceway was an oasis for drivers who could repeat as winners at the short track.

From 2007-12, four Sprint Cup drivers won in 11 of 12 races. Kyle Busch had four wins, followed by Jimmie Johnson with three and Clint Bowyer and Denny Hamlin with two each. The outlier was Kevin Harvick, who won the 2011 fall race.

Since 2012, none of those repeat winner have won at the .750-mile track. Harvick would win again in 2013. Aside from him, Carl Edwards is the only other repeat Richmond winner since the fall 2011 race.

Similar to Darlington Raceway, which just crowned its 11th different winner in 11 races, Richmond has become stingy in who it allows to celebrate a win. Of the eight different drivers to win in the last nine races, Bowyer is the only one not qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup heading into the regular season finale.

Here’s a look at who is Hot and Cold ahead of the Federated Auto Parts 400

Who’s Hot

Kevin Harvick: A three-time Richmond winner, Harvick finished second at Darlington after leading the most laps. It was his 23rd runner-up finish since joining Stewart-Haas Racing. Twenty top-10 finishes in 2016, most by three. Only three finishes worse than 15th. Finished top five in three of the last four races at Richmond including fifth in April. Worst finish at Richmond in the last eight races was 14th in this race last year.

Denny Hamlin: Seven straight top-10 finishes including a win at Watkins Glen, tied for the longest streak of his career. Finished sixth in the last two races at Richmond, had finished 18th or worse in prior six. Two-time Richmond winner, last came in this race in 2010. Has led more than 1,400 laps at Richmond, but only 15 in the last six races.

Brad Keselowski: Finished ninth at Darlington, finished in the top 10 in 12 of the last 16 races, including three wins. Has led 654 laps at Richmond, all coming in the last six races there. Finished in top 10 in three of the last five races there including a win in this race in 2014.

Jamie McMurray: Five of eight top-10 finishes in 2016 came in the last eight races including finishing eighth in three of the last four. Worst finish at Richmond in the last six races is 16th in the spring. Finished fourth in three of the last six races at Richmond.

Who’s Cold

Jimmie Johnson: Finished 33rd at Darlington after two penalties and a crash. Only four top-10 finishes in the last 16 races. Last Richmond win came in 2008. Finished top 10 in the last four races at Richmond including third in April.

Kasey Kahne: Finished seventh at Darlington, only two top-10 finishes in the last 11 races, one in the last nine. His one Richmond win, in 2005 from the pole, was the first Sprint Cup win of his career. Of Kahne’s two top fives this year, one was in the spring Richmond race. His last top-10 finish in the fall Richmond race was in 2007.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Finished career-best second at Bristol for the second time. Three of his five top-10 finishes in 2016 came in last nine races. One top-10 finish in seven starts at Richmond, with an average of 23rd.

Ryan Newman: Finished eighth at Darlington, best finish in the last six races, now seven points behind 17th in the Chase standings. Average finish at Richmond is 11.7, his best at all tracks. One Richmond win (fall 2003).

Other notes of interest ahead of Saturday’s race:

  • Richmond has been the final race of the “regular season” in all 13 years of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
  • The race winner started in the top four in the last four Richmond races but started 17th or worse in each of the prior three.
  • The winner took the lead for the final time with five laps or less to go in four of the last seven Richmond races.
  • Joey Logano (three) and Carl Edwards (two) have won the poles for the last five short track races with qualifying.
  • The driver leading the most laps won only one of the last five races of 2016 (Kyle Larson at Michigan).