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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.

Kurt Busch fastest in final Cup practice at Sonoma

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Kurt Busch posted the fastest single lap in the final practice for the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Sonoma Raceway with a speed of 94.061 mph.

He beat second-place Denny Hamlin (94.012 mph) by .040 seconds.

Martin Truex Jr. (93.718) had the third fastest lap, but the team will have some work to do before Saturday’s qualification. With nine minutes remaining on the clock, he ran into the back of Bubba Wallace in the esses and did significant damage to his nose. Wallace landed 34th on the chart with a speed of 91.641 mph.

Jamie McMurray (93.549) and Kevin Harvick (93.441) rounded out the top five.

Harvick (91.468) had the quickest 10-lap average – leading a sweep of the top three by Stewart Haas Racing. Busch was second quickest at 91.452 mph with Clint Bowyer third quick at 91.443 mph.

William Byron broke an axle seal in final practice, but the team was able to get him back on track with 24 minutes remaining in the session. His speed of 92.279 mph was 25th fastest.

Click here for the full report from final practice.

Friday Truck Series practice report from Gateway

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Second practice

Last week’s winner, Brett Moffitt topped the speed chart in Friday evening’s practice session for the Eaton 200 with a speed of 137.191 mph.

He beat second-place Myatt Snider (136.658 mph) by .128 seconds.

Johnny Sauter (136.608), Riley Herbst (136.355), and Ben Rhodes (136.219) round out the top five.

Herbst is making his Truck Series debut this week.

Also making his Truck debut is Zane Smith, who posted a lap of 136.120 mph to land sixth on the chart.

Christian Eckes (135.906) failed to back up his series-leading speed from the first practice session and was only ninth fastest, but he had the quickest 10-lap average of 135.039 mph.

Click here for complete results from practice 2.

First practice

Rain canceled the practice session at Gateway that was scheduled to run from 3:35 – 4:25 p.m. Eastern time.

When they finally got on track, Eckes posted the fastest single lap in the first practice session with a speed of 134.360 mph. He is making his Truck series debut this week.

Eckes’ speed was .009 seconds faster than Noah Gragon (134.324), who landed second on the speed chart.

Rhodes (134.120), Moffitt (133.817) and Matt Crafton (133.706) rounded out the top five.

Rhodes had the quickest 10-lap average of 133.466 mph.

With the first practice canceled at Gateway, NASCAR added a final practice session scheduled for Noon – 1 p.m.

Click here for complete results from practice one.

Denny Hamlin offers advice on how to deal with critics on social media

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Denny Hamlin, who has been fined by NASCAR for comments on Twitter, and was vocal toward critics after this year’s Daytona 500, says he’s found peace on how to deal with those on social media who don’t agree with him.

“I’ve been very good this year about not replying to mean people, and you all should do the same,’’ Hamlin said Friday at Sonoma Raceway.

“I’m making a (request) right now to every driver, every team owner, every NASCAR executive and every media member, stop replying to people who make nonsense comments. They have 16 followers. Don’t give them your 100,000. Do not give them your 100,000 as their stage. No one will ever see their comment, just brush it by, talk about the positives and I’m not a positive person.”

Asked how does one ignore such divisive comments, Hamlin said: “You just scroll by it. Forget it. That person doesn’t exit. They’re an admirer that has lost their way.’’

Hamlin has been better at doing so since the Daytona 500. He faced negative reaction on social media to the contact he and Bubba Wallace had at the end of the Daytona 500.

They engaged in a brief shouting match in the garage area after Hamlin learned that Wallace had taken a dig at him on national TV about a recent comment about drivers using Adderall.

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Clint Bowyer leads opening Cup practice at Sonoma

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Clint Bowyer was the fastest in the first of two Cup practices Friday at Sonoma Raceway.

Bowyer, the winner of the most recent Cup race two weeks ago at Michigan, posted a lap of 93.590 mph. He was followed by Ryan Blaney (93.546 mph), Joey Logano (93.172), Jamie McMurray (93.049) and Daniel Suarez (92.746).

Sixth was Jimmie Johnson (92.661). He was followed by Michael McDowell (92.650), Martin Truex Jr. (92.614), AJ Allmendinger (92.596) and Ryan Newman (92.595).

Click here for full practice report

Final Cup practice will be from 5:40 – 6:55 p.m. ET. Qualifying will take place Saturday.

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