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(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

Who’s Hot & Who’s Not in NASCAR: Debris in the Wind

Kansas isn’t exactly known as a state full of scenic beauty, unlike its neighbors Colorado, Nebraska and Missouri. (Oklahoma has its fair share of scenery as well.)

Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, the Hollywood Casino 400, at Kansas Speedway (located on the Sunflower State side of Kansas City) felt like a typical stormy spring day: An eerie and yawn-inducing stillness most of the day, followed by a tornado that comes out of nowhere and then leaves immediately afterward.

The race was pretty dull for nearly its entire duration until a caution was thrown late for debris from Ryan Blaney … when he was on the apron and well out of everyone’s way. That led to double overtime and several vicious crashes, which left a bad aftertaste.

HOT

He still hasn’t won in Cup yet, and he was eliminated from the playoffs on Sunday, but Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron is heating up. His fifth-place run was his third top five since the playoffs began, and he’s totaled four top fives and 12 top 10s overall, both crushing the marks set during his rookie season. And he has five poles and two stage wins this season, too.

NOT

David Ragan started second, his best qualifying effort since a pole at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2011. which was five teams ago when he was at Roush Fenway Racing in the No. 6. Unfortunately, his Front Row Motorsports No. 38 immediately started losing ground, ultimately finishing four laps down in 26th. Ragan has had just six finishes inside the top 20 this season, which matches the number of DNFs he’s recorded as well.

HOT

How about Denny Hamlin‘s season? Joe Gibbs Racing’s longest-tenured driver has piled up five wins this season, including the Daytona 500, along with five stage wins, two poles, 17 top fives and 21 top 10s. He could very well claim his first Cup Series title this year, shaking his status as the only JGR driver without a national series championship.

NOT

Roush Fenway Racing had a rough day. The departing Ricky Stenhouse Jr. caused his third wreck in the past two weeks and finished outside of the top 15 for the 21st time in 2019 (16th), while his teammate Ryan Newman‘s day was donezo after their collision, finishing a last-place 40th, his first last-place outing in two years.

HOT

It wasn’t how he wanted to squeak through the cutline, but Chase Elliott is into the semifinal round, recording three top 10s, including a Charlotte ROVAL win, since the playoffs began. For the 2019 season, Elliott has three race wins, five stage wins, four poles, 11 top fives and 15 top 10s. Could he follow in his dad’s footsteps and claim the championship?

NOT

The good news for Daniel Suarez is that he’s gotten better from last season, with his average finish improving to 16.5 from 18.5. On the other hand, he missed the playoffs in Stewart-Haas Racing equipment, he’s crashed out four times this season, including twice in a row, and his results since the playoffs started are on the bleak side: 20th, ninth, 34th, 14th, 32nd and 32nd.

Paint Scheme of the Week

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Happy Race Day 🎃 #NASCARPlayoffs

A post shared by Kyle Busch (@rowdybusch) on

While Halloween M&M’s don’t taste any different than normal plain milk chocolate M&M’s, they do come in a nifty specialty package, which Kyle Busch‘s No. 18 Camry also always gets wrapped in around this time of year. It’s a cool tradition, and it was good to see it continue.

Socially Speaking

Apparently the Kansas City Chiefs’ Pro Bowl fullback Anthony Sherman is a NASCAR fan, and a knowledgeable one at that, based on his comments while doing the pace car ridealong with Jeff Burton. That sleeveless firesuit remind anyone else of the Cincinnati Reds’ 1950s All-Star first baseman Ted Kluszewski?

This was a very weird week in the subculture of the racing world that is NASCAR.

Corey LaJoie‘s No. 32 will be easy to spot next weekend, as for at least the second year in a row, Go Fas Racing is using a Halloween costume on their Keen Parts Mustang. In this case, it will be Scooby-Doo‘s Mystery Machine after featuring Peanuts’ Snoopy last season.

Predictions

While the Xfinity Series is off for the final time this weekend, the Gander Outdoors Truck Series and the MENCS travel back to Virginia and Martinsville Speedway.

The Truck Series’ NASCAR Hall of Fame 200 will go green around 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Oct. 26, with TV coverage on Fox Sports 1. While he’s eliminated from title contention, ThorSport Racing veteran Johnny Sauter should be a good bet to take the checkered flag.

The Cup Series’ First Data 500 will go green around 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, Oct. 27, with TV coverage on NBC Sports Network. It seems likely that Kyle Busch will punch his ticket into the championship four, as he has 17 top 10s (and two wins) in 28 starts at the Paper Clip. Elliott and Hamllin are also very good there, however.

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About Wesley Coburn

Wesley Coburn
Wesley has been with Fronstretch since October 2017. He loves well-told stories in whatever format he finds them. Aside from NASCAR, he enjoys reading, country music and OKC Thunder basketball. He has a BA in Liberal Arts/English and currently lives in eastern Oklahoma, where he works as a freelance writer/editor.

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