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(Photo: Matthew T. Thacker/NKP)

Who’s Hot and Who’s Not in NASCAR: Richmond Edition

This one goes to out to your inner gymnast, the lover of the underdogs and the days and the days of heat and last chance races after what took place during the Sprint Cup race at Bristol on Sunday and the Xfinity race Saturday.

HOT
Someone other than Kyle Busch won a NASCAR race for two days in a row, so that’s something right there. That’s not an anti-Kyle Busch statement, but thank goodness for competition statement. Carl Edwards showed us he can still do his famous victory backflip after winning on Sunday. Edwards deserved the victory as he dominated the second half of the race and led 276 laps. The only concern I have about Edwards and his patented victory celebration is that he could slip while on the side of the car and have a not so good landing and hurt himself. But so far so good for Edwards, and now the No. 19 team can concentrate on the Chase. Another driver who can concentrate on the Chase now in the XFINITY Series is Erik Jones. He became the first non-Cup regular to win in that series Saturday, beating Kyle Busch to the finish line. It was nice to see someone else get a victory there.

NOT
The bottom lane was not place to be in Sunday’s race when it came to restarts. It’s become so bad that when teams exit pit stops, if there is a way they can make themselves an even number, meaning that can start on the top groove, when they come out of pit stops, it’s something they should try and do. I wondered if NASCAR was going to mandate that any car in the bottom lane should use of one of those slow moving vehicle triangle signs (OK, mark one up for exaggeration). But it did makes a big difference in how fast you can go and at the end of the race starting up top or on the bottom was a big deal. Just ask . . .

(Photo: John Harrelson/NKP)
(Photo: John Harrelson/NKP)

HOT
Matt DiBenedetto. Even if he had not gone to a career-best sixth place finish Sunday, he still would have made the hot category this week. That’s because not only did he have a great intro song with ZZ Top’s old “Sharp Dressed Man”, he also played the role wearing a long beard when he came out on the stage. But he and his BK Racing team had more than just a cool intro Sunday. As he said after the race, getting a sixth is like a win for that team, and the emotion and appreciation he showed afterward was truly a special moment in NASCAR this season.

NOT
It seems like when Matt Kenseth has a car capable of winning, then something happens, either earlier or later that knocks him out. This time it was two cut tires, the second of which essentially ended his day. So after leading 142 laps early on, Kenseth ended up with a 36th place finish. You wonder, after the Joey Logano incident last year, where Kenseth waited for and wrecked leader Joey Logano at the Martinsville Chase race, if may the racing gods are giving Kenseth a little payback this year. I’m just saying it’s a bit odd to see a fast car end up with so many problems in so many races.

HOT
If you grew up or still go to racing at a local dirt track and have enjoyed the heat race format, then the Dash 4 Cash races in the XFINITY Series should be enjoyable. I like them because it reminds us of what was once good and that it can be again. But the other part of this is, that if it gives a non-Sprint Cup driver a better chance to win, I’m all for it.

NOT
Another headache of a season continues for Kyle Larson. He was a contender in the Xfinity race on Saturday, but he fell on more bad luck in the Sprint Cup race on Sunday. The latest finish of 35th leaves him 22nd in points. Sure, he’s got plenty of time to make up the gap of 24 points to 16th place Ryan Newman or even win a race, but it’s getting late early for the No. 42 car.

Prediction: While he was a contender this week, I think it’s time for the other Busch to reach victory lane this week. So I’m going with Kurt Busch to win at Richmond. The deep sleeper, super underdog, someone you might not think of pick this week is Aric Almirola who has two top 10s in his last four races there and an average finish of 12.75 in those races.

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About Jeff Wolfe

Jeff Wolfe
Jeff is in his fifth year with Frontstretch and in his third year of writing the Hot and Not column after having been the fantasy writer in his first two seasons. After spending all of his post-collegiate career in sports and news at newspapers, he changed professions three years ago, but remains a faithful fan of NASCAR and other forms of racing allowing him to give us his unique take on NASCAR each week.

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