Who is hot and cold entering the AAA Texas 500

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The second race of Round of 8 begins this weekend in the Lone Star State at Texas Motor Speedway (3 p.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN).

Three slots remain in the championship finale after Joey Logano’s dramatic win last week on the short track.

Here is who is hot and cold entering the 1.5-mile track.

Who is Hot

Joey Logano

Round of 8 – Red Hot
• Led the most laps last week and won at Martinsville to become the only driver locked into the championship battle
• Bumped Martin Truex Jr. out of the lead exiting Turn 4
2018 Season – Red Hot
• Is currently riding a five-race, top-10 streak that includes his Martinsville victory and two other top fives
• Advances to the Championship 4 for the third time in his career (2014, 2016 and 2018)
• Has six top fives in his last 10 races
Texas – Very Good
• Scored top 10s in his last five races. Finished sixth in April
• Finished in the top 10 in nine of his last 11 Texas races
• Started 36th last year, was 15th in Stage 1, 21st in Stage 2, led one lap and finished seventh. Was penalized for speeding entering the pits on Lap 141
1.5-mile tracks – Very Good
• Finished in the top 10 in 10 of the last 11 races. 

 

Chase Elliott

Round of 8 – Hot
• Finished seventh at Martinsville (11th in Stage 1 and seventh in Stage 2)
2018 Season – Red Hot
• Won two of the last four races and three of the last 12; it took 99 starts before earning his first win
• Finished top 10 in five of the last six races and in 11 of the last 14
Texas – Very Good
• Top 10s in four of five starts at Texas; was 11th in April
• Swept the top five at Texas as a rookie
• Started 34th last year, was 11th in Stage 1, fifth in Stage 2, led one lap and finished eighth.
1.5-mile tracks – Hot and Very Cold
• Won the last 1.5-mile race at Kansas in the Round of 12
• Finished outside the top 10 in seven of the last eight races on 1.5-mile tracks.

 

Kyle Busch

Round of 8 – Great
• Finished fourth at Martinsville (third in Stage 1, third in Stage 2, and led 100 laps)
• Won the Martinsville pole
2018 Season – Great
• Finished in the top five in the last two races
• Finished in the top 10 in seven of the last nine races and 12 of the last 15
• Won seven races in 2018
• Finished in the top five in 20 of 33 races this season

Texas – Red Hot
• Won two of the last five Texas races including this April
• Finished in the top five in six of the last eight Texas races
• Started fifth, was 30th in Stage 1, 25th in Stage 2, led seven laps and finished 19th in this race last year. Forced to pit for damage to his right front fender after contact with Brad Keselowski on Lap 1. Pitted from 13th on Lap 275 with a flat left rear tire
1.5-mile tracks – Red Hot
• Won three of the last seven races on 1.5-mile tracks
• Finished in the top 10 in the last 10 races on 1.5-mile track including every race of 2018
• Along with Kevin Harvick and Truex, combined to win 13 of the last 15 races on 1.5-mile tracks

 

Martin Truex Jr.

Round of 8 – Great
• Finished third at Martinsville (seventh in Stage 1, fourth in Stage 2 and led 18 laps) after coming from the back of the pack (33rd) when his qualification time was disallowed
• Bumped out of the lead exiting Turn 4 on the final lap
2018 Season – Streaking
• Finished in the top five in the last two races
• Last seven races: four top fives and three finishes of 14th or worse
• Finished in the top five in 14 of the last 23 races
Texas – Very Good
• Finished in the top 10 in six of his last seven Texas races (37th in April)
• This is one of only two 1.5-mile tracks on which he has not won (Atlanta is the other)
• Started seventh, was second in Stage 1, fourth in Stage 2, led 107 laps and finished second in this race last year.
1.5-mile tracks – Red Hot
• Won eight of the last 19 races on 1.5-mile tracks
• Finished in the top five in the last six races on 1.5-mile tracks
• Along with Harvick and Kyle Busch, combined to win 13 of the last 15 races on 1.5-mile tracks

 

Kevin Harvick

Round of 8 – Warm
• Finished 10th Martinsville (ninth in Stage 1, 15th in Stage 2)
2018 Season – Great
• Finished 10th or worse in three straight races, which is his worst three-race stretch of 2018
• Finished in the top 10 in 12 of last 15 races
• Finished in the top five in 11 of the last 20 races
• Won seven races in 2018
• In 33 races this season, finished 10th or better 26 times and 12th or worse seven times
Texas – Red Hot
• Finished in the top 10 in eight consecutive races (second in April)
• Eight consecutive top 10s at Texas is the second longest streak at the track
• Finished in the top five in six of the last eight Texas races
• Started third, won Stage 1, second in Stage 2, led 38 laps and won this race last year.
1.5-mile tracks – Hot
• Won four of the last 11 races on 1.5-mile tracks
• Finished in the top 10 in 15 of the last 18 races on 1.5-mile tracks; failed to finish in two of the last five
• Along with Truex and Kyle Busch, combined to win 13 of the last 15 races on 1.5-mile tracks

 

Aric Almirola

Round of 8 – Good
• Finished 11th Martinsville (10th in Stage 1, 12th in Stage 2)
2018 Season – Good
• Four top 10s in the last seven races
Texas – Very Bad
• Finished outside the top 10 in 10 straight Texas races (32nd in April)
• One top 10 in 15 stars at Texas (seventh in April 2013)
• Started 18th, 21st in Stage 1, 16th in Stage 2 and finished 15th in this race last year.
1.5-mile tracks – Hot and Cold (trending Hot)
• Finished in the top 10 in three consecutive 1.5-mile races and five of the last six
• In nine 1.5-mile races with Stewart-Haas Racing: five top 10s and four finishes of 13th or worse

 

Kurt Busch

Round of 8 – Great
• Finished sixth at Martinsville (fifth in Stage 1, fifth in Stage 2)
2018 Season – Good
• Three top 10s and four results of 14th or worse in the last seven races
• Finished in the top 10 in 11 of the last 15 races
Texas – Pretty Good
• Finished in the top 10 in three straight Texas races (seventh in April)
• Finished in the top 10 in six of the last eight Texas races
• Won the pole for the last two Texas races
• Started first, fifth in Stage 1, seventh in Stage 2 and finished ninth in this race last year. Had to pit for a second time for a possible loose wheel on Lap 231
1.5-mile tracks – Cold
• Finished 17th or worse in three of the last four 1.5-mile races

 

Clint Bowyer

Round of 8 – Not Good
• Finished 21st at Martinsville (fourth in Stage 1, eighth in Stage 2 and led one lap)
• Damaged his right front fender after contact with William Byron on pit road on Lap 133; spun after contact with Jimmie Johnson on Lap 457 while running 10th
2018 Season – Hot and Cold
• Finished outside the top 20 in two of the last four races and outside the top 10 in three of the last four
Last 10 races: five top 10s and five results of 13th or worse (2 DNFs)
Texas – Not Good
Finished outside the top 10 in seven of last the last eight Texas races (ninth in April)
Finished outside top 20 in five of the last eight Texas races
Started 20th, 16th in Stage 1, 11th in Stage 2, finished 36th in this race last year
1.5-mile tracks – Cold
Finished outside the top 10 in 13 of last 16 1.5-mile races
• Finished 12th or worse in the last three 1.5-mile races

NASCAR America: Daytona 500 ‘Turning Point’ came on Stage 2 pit stop

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The moment that set up Denny Hamlin‘s Daytona 500 win on Sunday came on Lap 108, according to NASCAR America’s Steve Letarte.

That’s when Hamlin made a pit stop near the end of Stage 2.

“(Crew chief Chris) Gabehart calls his car to pit road,” Letarte said. “He doesn’t care about stage points. He cares about four fresh tires on a hot, slick Daytona track.”

Then on Lap 122, during the stage break pit stop, Gabehart decided to only put fuel in the No. 11 Toyota when he was 21st.

“On Lap 163 he got six seconds of gas, that’s it, no tires,” Letarte said. “That gave him track position (eighth) in front of all of those accidents. The turning points to this race was before Stage 2 even ended.”

Watch the above video for more.

Garrett Smithley in Spire Motorsports car at Atlanta as entry lists released

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Garrett Smithley is listed as the driver of Spire Motorsports’ No. 77 Chevrolet for Sunday’s Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Smithley, a native of Peachtree City, Georgia, competes in the Xfinity Series with JD Motorsports and made three Cup starts last year.

Spire purchased Furniture Row Racing’s charter after the team closed at the end of last season. It fielded Jamie McMurray in the Daytona 500 in the No. 40 in a partnership of Chip Ganassi Racing.

Quin Houff also will compete for Spire this season.

Click here for the preliminary Cup entry list.

Click here for the preliminary Xfinity entry list.

Click here for the preliminary Truck Series entry list.

NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Daytona 500 recap

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and recaps all the action from Sunday’s Daytona 500.

Steve Letarte, Jeff Burton and Dale Jarrett will discuss all the major storylines from the race that saw Denny Hamlin claim his second 500 win.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch it online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

‘Bizarre’ Daytona 500 marks Jamie McMurray’s likely final Cup start

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If Sunday’s Daytona 500 turns out to be Jamie McMurray‘s 583rd and final Cup start, then the race threw all it could at him as a going away present.

McMurray finished 22nd in what the Chip Ganassi Racing driver called a “bizarre” Daytona 500.

The 43-year-old driver had to start his 17th “Great American Race” at the rear due to a rear gear change. By Lap 19 in he was in 19th.

His day was complicated on Lap 50 when he was caught up in a six-car wreck, which damaged his right front fender. With repairs made to his No. 40 Chevrolet, the 2010 Daytona 500 winner continued.

Even with the damage, McMurray managed to navigate his way up to 10th by Lap 84.

He then led the field from Laps 164-169, with just the last two laps under green.

Then chaos reigned.

The final 20 laps saw three multi-car wrecks, but McMurray managed to avoid the ones that caught 21 and seven cars.

“Certainly, a bizarre 500 to have so much green-flag racing and then so many wrecks at the end,” McMurray said. “It’s incredible to me how many times we were able to crash in the last 10 laps. It’s part of it. You were able to get big runs. It seemed like as the sun went down those runs happened more often. When the Daytona 500 is on the line, people are willing to take big risks. They just all waited to the end.”

But McMurray couldn’t avoid the last major wreck. While running eighth he was ensnared in a nine-car melee that resulted in the overtime finish. 

“I’m thrilled I made it as long as I did,” said McMurray. “I made it through two or three wrecks I should have been in and didn’t get torn up. It is just part of it. It is what it is and I’m just thankful I’m safe. This is just one of those places you come to that there are a lot of unknowns and certainly after flipping at Talladega (last April), speedway racing was a little different in my mind.”

McMurray will now transition to an analyst role for Fox Sports.

Should the native of Joplin, Missouri, never make another Cup start, he ends his career with seven wins, 63 top fives and 168 top 10s.

He exits the NASCAR stage after 581 consecutive Cup starts.

Next week’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway will be the first without McMurray since the Oct. 20, 2002 event at Martinsville Speedway. That was the race after McMurray scored a surprise first career win at Charlotte Motor Speedway driving Ganassi’s No. 40 Dodge in substitution of an injured Sterling Marlin.

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