Here’s a look from Racing Insights on who is hot and who is not heading into Sunday’s Cup race at Phoenix (green flag at 2:36 p.m. ET on NBC):
Round of 8 – Hot
• Won at Texas (1st in Stage 1, 1st in Stage 2, 177 laps led)
• Finished 10th at Martinsville (9th in Stage 1, 15th in Stage 2)
2018 Season – Great
• Advances to Championship 4 for 4th time in career (missed 2016)
• Won 8 of last 33 races
• Finished in Top 10 in 13 of last 16 races
• Finished in Top 5 in 12 of last 21 races
• 34 races in 2018: 27 top-10s (including 8 wins) & 7 finishes of 12th or worse
ISM Raceway – Scorching Hot
• Top 10 in the last 10 races at ISM the longest active streak
• Won seven races at ISM since the track was reconfigured
• 9 career wins at ISM Raceway the most all-time at ISM
• Career bests at ISM Raceway: 15 Top 5s, 1,522 laps led
• Only driver to lead more than 1,000 laps at ISM Raceway
• Started 6th, 5th in Stage 1, 6th in Stage 2, finished 5th in this race one year ago
Round of 8 – Hot
• Finished 6th at Texas (9th in Stage 1, 10th in Stage 2)
• Finished 7th at Martinsville (11th in Stage 1, 7th in Stage 2)
2018 Season – Red Hot
• Finished 7th or better in 6 of last 7 races and 9th or better in 12 of last 15
ISM Raceway – Very Good
• Finished 9th or better in 4 of 5 career starts at ISM Raceway (3rd in March)
• Never finished worse than 12th in 5 career starts at ISM Raceway
• 6.8 career avg. finish is best of active drivers at ISM Raceway (2nd all-time to Alan Kulwicki)
• Started 4th, 3rd in Stage 1, 9th in Stage 2, 34 laps led, finished 2nd in this race one year ago; contact with #11 off turn 4 on lap 270 while battling for 3rd
Round of 8 – Red Hot
•Finished 3rd at Texas (6th in Stage 1, 5th in Stage 2, 54 laps led)
•Won at Martinsville (2nd in Stage 1, 1st in Stage 2, 309 laps led); knocked Martin Truex Jr. out of the way exiting turn 4 on last lap to win
2018 Season – Red Hot
•Advanced to Championship 4 for 3rd time in career (2014, 2016, 2018)
•Finished in Top 10 in 6 straight races and 10 of last 12
•Finished in Top 5 in 7 of last 11 races
ISM Raceway – Trending Cold
•Finished 12th or worse in 3 straight races at ISM Raceway and 4 of last 5 (19th in March)
• Last 10 races: 6 finishes of 9th or better (including win in Nov. 2016) and 4 finishes of 12th or worse
• Finished 7th at Texas (2nd in Stage 1, 8th in Stage 2)
• Finished 6th at Martinsville (5th in Stage 1, 5th in Stage 2)
2018 Season – Good
• Finished 7th or better in the last two races
• Last 8 races: 4 top 10s and 4 finishes of 14th or worse
• Finished top 10 in 12 of last 16 races
ISM Raceway – Trending Down
• Finished in top 10 in 6 of last 8 races at ISM Raceway but 21st or worse in 2 of last 3
• Started 15th and finished 21st in this race one year ago; damaged on Lap 282 restart
MARTIN TRUEX JR.
Round of 8 – Great
• Finished 9th at Texas (5th in Stage 1, 3rd in Stage ), started in rear due to engine change; pit to address vibration on lap 247 while running 7th and penalized for driving through too many pit boxes
• Finished 3rd at Martinsville (7th in Stage 1), 4th in Stage 2, 18 laps led), qualifying time disallowed after failing post-qualifying inspection; knocked out of the lead on last lap by Joey Logano.
2018 Season – Streaking
• Finished top 10 in 3 straight races
• Last 8 races: 5 top 10s and 3 finishes of 14th or worse
ISM Raceway – Trending Up
• Finished in top 5 in 2 straight races but outside top 10 in 6 of last 9
• Started 5th, 8th in Stage 1, 4th in Stage 2, finished 3rd in this race a year ago
Round of 8 – Ice Cold
•Finished 26th at Texas (30th in Stage 1, 28th in Stage 2); contact with Denny Hamlin on lap 1; pit on lap 10 with flat RR tire after contact with Hamlin; penalized for crew over the wall too soon on lap 164
•Finished 21st at Martinsville (4th in Stage 1, 8th in Stage 2, 1 lap led); damaged RF 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 – Trending Cold
•Finished outside Top 20 in 3 of last 5 races and outside the top 10 in 4 of last 5
•Last 11 races: 5 top 10s and 6 finishes of 13th or worse (2 DNFs)
ISM Raceway – Bad
•Finished 13th or worse in 9 of last 10 races at ISM Raceway (6th in March)
•Started 20th, 12th in Stage 1, 10th in Stage 2, finished 13th in this race one year ago
• Finished 19th at Texas (22nd in Stage 1, 17th in Stage 2); penalized for speeding in pits on lap 30
2018 Season – Pretty Bad
• Finished 16th or worse in 5 straight races
• Last 13 races: 4 top 10s and 9 finishes of 16th or worse
• Finished 15th or worse in 26 of 34 races this season
ISM Raceway – Not Good
•Finished outside the top 10 in 5 of last 6 races at ISM Raceway (26th in March)
•Started 13th, 11th in Stage 1, 7th in Stage 2, finished 6th in this race one year ago
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
• Finished 11th at Texas (11th in Stage 1, 20th in Stage 2); penalized for uncontrolled tire on lap 155
2018 Season – Bad
• Finished outside the top 10 in 3 straight races
• Finished 14th or worse in 25 of 34 races in 2018
ISM Raceway – Trending Up
•Finished top-10 in 2 of last 3 races at ISM Raceway (23rd in March)
•Both ISM top-10s have come in the last three races
•Started 27th, 23rd in Stage 1, 22nd in Stage 2, finished 8th in this race one year ago; started in the rear after changing tires pre-race
Kaulig Racing announced Wednesday night the hauler for its No. 10 team was involved in an accident on the way to Kansas Speedway for Saturday’s Xfinity Series race.
Team president Chris Rice said in a statement released on social media that Kaulig’s two drivers for the hauler were alert and had been transported to a hospital for evaluation.
According to 13 WLOS, the accident occurred around 5 p.m. ET, and a state trooper said the truck’s driver and passenger were taken to Mission Hospital by ambulance with serious but non-life threatening injuries.
According to told Fox Carolina, the North Carolina Highway Patrol said the hauler was traveling westbound on I-40 in McDowell County when it went off the right side of the road near mile marker 93. It went through a guard rail and down an embankment before stopping in the woods.
Rice said the team still planned to field two cars in Saturday’s race.
Ross Chastain is entered in the No. 10 Chevrolet this weekend for his fifth start of the year with the team. Chastain was announced Tuesday as the full-time driver of the car next season.
Kaulig also will field the No. 11 Chevy of Justin Haley in Saturday’s race.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was without a 2020 Cup ride for less than 25 days.
Only a few weeks after Roush Fenway Racing announced it was parting ways with Stenhouse in favor of Chris Buescher, Stenhouse has landed in Buescher’s old ride at JTG Daugherty Racing in a multi-year deal.
Stenhouse will have Ryan Preece as a teammate in his first full-time year with a new team in a decade.
Here are where things stand with Silly Season:
OPEN RIDES ANNOUNCED FOR 2020
No. 38: Front Row Motorsports must replace David Ragan, who stated Aug. 14 that 2019 would be his final season running a full schedule.
ANNOUNCED CUP RIDES FOR 2020
No. 8: Richard Childress Racing made it official Oct. 2 that Tyler Reddick will move to Cup in 2020 and drive the No. 8 car.
No. 10: Aric Almirola confirmed Oct. 11 he signed an extension to race for Stewart-Haas Racing.
No. 13: Ty Dillon posted a video Sept. 6 on Instagram refuting rumors that he would retire after this season. He has a contract with Germain Racing through 2020.
No. 17: Chris Buescher will take over the Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 ride in 2020 after the team announced Sept. 25 that it would part ways with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. after this season.
No. 20: Joe Gibbs Racing announced Sept. 6 that it had signed Erik Jones to an extension. It is a one-year extension for the 2020 season.
No. 21: Matt DiBenedetto replaces Paul Menard at Wood Brothers Racing (announcement made Sept. 10). DiBenedetto’s deal is for 2020 only.
No. 95: Christopher Bell moves to Cup in 2020 and will drive for Leavine Family Racing (announcement made Sept. 24).
JTG Daugherty Racing: It was announced Oct. 16 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will join Ryan Reece at the two-car team, essentially swapping seats with Chris Buescher.
AMONG THOSE YET TO ANNOUNCE DEALS FOR 2020
Clint Bowyer — His contract expires after this season with the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team. Take it whatever way you want but Bowyer stated Sept. 20 that he did a commercial shoot in September with Kevin Harvick for next season.
Kurt Busch — His contract expires after this season. Car owner Chip Ganassi has suggested in media reports that a deal will be done. Busch declined to discuss much about his contract status before the Sept. 29 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, stating: “We haven’t really started talks. I felt like it was good to get the playoffs underway and go as far as we could comfortably. Man, there’s a lot going on and we’ll see how things play out. Again, it’s all about all the stars lining up with Chevrolet, Monster Energy, myself, Chip. For me, I feel like things haven’t progressed because of the focus on the playoffs.”
Daniel Suarez — He has said that both he and the team have an option on his contract for next year. He has remained confident that he will return to Stewart-Haas Racing to drive the No. 41 car.
Ross Chastain – Kaulig Racing announced Oct. 15 he would compete full-time for the team in 2020 driving the No. 10 Chevrolet.
Seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson is the guest of honor on this week’s episode of NASCAR America presents MotorMouths, which airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
Johnson joins Marty Snider and Kyle Petty. Together they’ll discuss this week’s storylines and take fan phone calls.
You can call in at 844-NASCAR-NBC or reach out on Twitter via #LetMeSayThis.
If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch 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.
Former NHRA Pro Stock champion Tanner Gray will make his Gander Outdoors Truck Series debut in the Oct. 26 race at Martinsville Speedway, DGR-Crosley announced Wednesday.
Gray, 20, will drive the No. 15 Toyota in the final three Truck Series races of the season.
This is Gray’s first season in NASCAR competition after also racing in super late models.
Gray competed full-time in the K&N Pro Series East this season for DGR-Crosley, where he earned one win, six top fives and nine top-10 finishes. He also claimed one pole on his way to finishing third in the point standings. He made three starts in the K&N West Series and earned two poles and three top fives.
MORE: Tanner Gray embracing NASCAR after drag racing career
“I’m excited to make the step up to the Truck Series,” Gray said in a press release. “I think it’s going to be challenging, but I’m ready to take the next step with my DGR-Crosley guys. We’ve been preparing for this all season, and I think the best way to learn is to go out and do it. Between testing and spending time in the Toyota simulator, I think I have a good feel for Martinsville and will be able to adapt quickly. We will have three practice sessions to get acclimated and get the truck where it needs to be. We just need to keep our nose clean in the race and have a solid day on pit road.”
Gray’s K&N team will make the transition to the Truck Series with him for the remainder of the season. Seth Smith will serve as crew chief duties while veteran Eddie D’Hondt will be his spotter.
“I’m really looking forward to Tanner’s Truck debut after the building season that he’s had,” Smith said in a press release. “He’s learned a lot from where he started at the beginning of the season to where he’s at now. We tested at Martinsville and I feel like we had a really successful test session.”