Who is hot and not entering this weekend’s Cup race at Phoenix

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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):

Kevin Harvick

Round of 8 – Hot

• Won at Texas (1st in Stage 1, 1st in Stage 2, 177 laps led)
• Finished 10
th 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 12
th 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 6
th, 5th in Stage 1, 6th in Stage 2, finished 5th in this race one year ago

 

Chase Elliott

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

 

Joey Logano

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 

Round of 8 – Great

• 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

 

NOT HOT

Clint Bowyer

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

 

Jamie McMurray

• 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

NASCAR America: Assessing Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus’ historic tenure

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After 17 years, seven Cup championships and 81 wins, the checkered flag will wave on Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus this weekend.

Sunday’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway will mark the final time Johnson and Knaus will work together as driver and crew chief.

In 2019, Johnson will be paired with Kevin Meendering while Knaus will work with William Byron on the No. 24 team.

On NASCAR America, three-time Cup champion and Hall of Fame crew chief Ray Evernham and Kyle Petty discussed the legacy of the Johnson-Knaus pairing and how it compares to what was accomplished by Richard Petty and crew chief Dale Inman and Jeff Gordon and Evernham.

“The most underrated record in this sport is five (championships) in a row,” Petty said, referring to the No. 48 team’s title run from 2006-10. “Nobody gives them enough credit, I just don’t think so. … The crew chief job that Ray did is a completely different job than what Chad does. The crew chief job that Chad does, Dale Inman wouldn’t even recognize it in 1967, ’68.”

Said Evernham: “Jimmie and Chad are right there with those guys. Without a doubt it’s Petty-Inman, Johnson-Knaus. What Jeff I did together was great, but we weren’t together that long. … To me it’s incredible to win that many championships, not just mechanically, but what it takes emotionally to do that. To hold those teams together and be that good for that many years is to me incredible. That’s longer than most marriages.”

Watch the above video for more.

 

NASCAR penalty report from Phoenix

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NASCAR has fined two crew chiefs for unsecured lug nuts last weekend at ISM Raceway.

In the Cup Series, Luke Lambert was fined $10,000 for one unsecured lug nut on Ryan Newman‘s No. 31 Chevrolet.

In the Xfinity Series, David Elenz was fined $5,000 for one unsecured lug nut on Tyler Reddick‘s No. 9 Chevrolet.

There were no other penalties announced.

NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Miami preview, Richard Petty and Dale Inman

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and continues to set up the final race weekend of the year in Miami.

Marty Snider hosts with Kyle Petty and Ray Evernham from Charlotte.

On today’s show:

  • We’ll discuss the final race together for Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus, and their lasting impact on NASCAR. Another legendary driver/crew chief combo, Richard Petty and Dale Inman, give their take on the success of their fellow seven-time champions.

  • It’s the final NASCAR race for Elliott Sadler. The panel, including Sadler’s former boss Ray Evernham, share their fondest memories of the 24-year NASCAR veteran.

  • Plus, we’ll reveal the final three members of this season’s Pit Crew All-Stars.

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.

‘A lot of tears shed’ as Furniture Row Racing departs for last Cup race

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The final chapter in Furniture Row Racing’s history began overnight as the team’s hauler embarked on its journey from Denver, Colorado, to Miami for Sunday’s Cup season finale (3 p.m ET on NBC).

The race, where Martin Truex Jr. will compete in the Championship 4, will mark the 451st and final Cup race for the team that owner Barney Visser started in 2005. The team announced Sept. 4 that it would cease operations at the end of the year due to a lack of sponsorship.

Truex will try to deliver the team’s second consecutive Cup title.

The team’s farewell at the Denver shop was marked by a large gathering of team members.

“I don’t think any of us were prepared for how emotional it was (Tuesday) night when we loaded up,” crew chief Cole Pearn said Wednesday in a teleconference. “I think we’ve just been head down, kind of pushing super hard, trying to do everything we can to get ready for this weekend, and once it was in the truck and saw the lift gate up, there was a lot of tears shed and a lot of sad faces, and I think all of us really realized that that was the last time we were going to do it together as a group.  … A lot of relationships have been built from that shop, and it’s a weird feeling for sure.”

Pearn said the occasion was marked with team members sharing “a few beverages” while they “told old stories and kind of reminisced.”

Visser said Furniture Row Racing “remained a team” in the months since the announcement of its impending closure.

“I am proud of the way they handled this difficult and emotional situation,” Visser said in a media release. “I think everybody who has had an opportunity to work in our shop is probably better for it. I believe they’re better craftsmen and have known or have learned what it takes to be a winner. On the flip side, I do feel a responsibility for moving the guys out here and want to see them get placed. That is very important to me.”

Visser said it will be “hard to give up” a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity.

“It’s so rare to get a group of people you like being with, and who accomplish things that other people can’t seem to do,” Visser said. “Pretty special to find that chemistry and the success that comes with it. It’s hard to give it up, but sometimes it’s taken away from you without having any recourse. I just couldn’t keep borrowing money over here to feed it over there. Just had to give it up.”

When it comes to how involved Visser will be in NASCAR going forward, the 69-year-old Vietnam veteran said he hopes to attend some races next season.

“I am a huge racing fan,” Visser said. “I love the cars, love the smell, love the sound and love the people. I will be coming as a guest and fan next year and hope to sit in the stands for a few races. Never did that. My wife and I are looking forward to taking weekend trips to races next year.”