Who’s hot, who’s not, heading into Michigan

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Just four races remain for drivers to make – or miss – the upcoming NASCAR Cup playoffs.

This weekend, the series returns to Michigan International Speedway, which is the fastest track on the circuit. It’s a place where 200 mph-plus is the norm, not the exception.

This will be the 97th NASCAR Cup race to be held at the two-mile oval.

Kyle Larson has won the last two races there: last August and this June.

Drivers like Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch are among the hottest drivers going right now.

But other drivers are in big trouble, particularly Joey Logano and Dale Earnhardt Jr. If they hope to make the playoffs, they’ll have to do so with a win only.

So without further adieu, here’s the hottest of the hot and, well, the not so hot:

WHO IS HOT?

Martin Truex Jr.

Won at Watkins Glen, his series leading fourth of 2017

Finished in the top-10 15 times this season, the most

Won 14 stages this season, the most

34 Playoff Points this season, 18 more than anyone else

Wins at Las Vegas, Kansas, Kentucky and WG

Led a series high 1315 laps in 2017, led the most laps in seven races

Best Michigan finish is second, twice

Finished sixth in June at Michigan after leading 62 laps, victim of the outside line on restarts

Clint Bowyer

Finished 5th at Watkins Glen, top 10 in five of the last seven races this season

Finished runner up three times in 2017

10 top-10s in 2017, had only three in all of 2016

Only one top five finish at Michigan in 23 starts

Best finish at Michigan in the last four races is 23rd, finished top 10 in his nine previous races there

Kyle Busch

Finished 7th at Watkins Glen after multiple issues

Won from the pole at Pocono, first win of 2017 and at Pocono

Had four wins at this point in 2016

Won the pole for the last three races

One Michigan win, this race in 2011 (last on the old pavement), only two top 10s there since (six finishes of 31st or worse)

Denny Hamlin

4th at Watkins Glen, top 4 finishes in six of the last eight races including a win at NH

Two-time winner at Michigan but last came in 2011

Finished top 10 in three of the last four Michigan races including fourth in June

Kevin Harvick

Finished 17th at WG, heavy damage on pit road

Finished top-10 in 12 of the last 16 races of 2017

One Michigan win, this race in 2010

Finished top 5, including five runner ups, in seven of the last nine races at Michigan

Kyle Larson

23rd at WG, third straight finish of 23rd or worse

Finished second in seven races this year

Two wins this season, ACS and Michigan

Won the last three races on 2.0 mile tracks including the last two races at Michigan

Daniel Suarez

Finished third at WG, best career finish

Top 10 finishes in the last four races

Won the Open at Charlotte

First career NXS win came at Michigan last year

Finished 24th at Michigan in June, only Cup start there

WHO IS NOT?

Joey Logano

24th at WG, ninth finish outside the top 20 in the last 13 races

Won at Richmond but was encumbered

Now 95 points outside the bubble, he must win to make the playoffs

Top 10 finishes in the last nine races at Michigan including two wins

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

37th at WG, ninth finish of 30th or worse this season

Only two top-10s in the last 10 races

Two-time Michigan winner

Top 10 finishes in five of his last six starts at Michigan including ninth in June

Kasey Kahne

Finished 16th at WG, his three best finishes in the last 11 races have come in the last three races

Won at Indianapolis ending a 102 race winless streak, took a super lucky timed caution and turned it into a win

One Michigan win, 2006

Finished 13th or worse in the last six races at Michigan

Will not return to Hendrick Motorsports next season, likely to be replaced by William Byron.

Jimmie Johnson

29th at WG, ran out of fuel late

DNF accident in three of his last five races in 2017

One top-10 in his last seven races (10th at New Hampshire)

Three top 5 finishes this season, all wins

One Michigan win, June 2014

Only one top-five at Michigan in the last 10 races, his win in 2014

Kurt Busch

Sixth at Watkins Glen, his best finish in the last eight races

Three DNFs in the last six races of 2017

Just 10 top 10 finishes this season, had 16 after 22 races in 2016

Has not had back-to-back top 10 finishes since Richmond and Talladega

Three wins at Michigan, all came with different manufacturers

Finished 12th at Michigan in June

Austin Dillon

26th at WG, only one top 15 finish in the last eight races

Won on fuel mileage at Charlotte

Only two top 10 finishes this season, had nine at this point last year

Only two top 10 finishes in 10 Michigan starts but they both came in the last four races there

AJ Allmendinger

Five top-10s in 2017 three were in the last six races (ninth at Watkins Glen)

Best Michigan finish is 11th, twice

Follow @JerryBonkowski