NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Who’s Hot / Who’s Not

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2009 Auto Club 500 at Fontana Edition

Adding to the boredom was the dominance of a select few. Kyle Busch came close to scoring the first “hat trick” in NASCAR history, finishing third in the Cup race while scoring impressive wins in both the Nationwide and Camping World Truck series events. Matt Kenseth followed up with his second consecutive win in the Sprint Cup 500-miler, although Jeff Gordon and Greg Biffle each had cars capable of getting to victory lane. Gordon drove a masterful race, only to come up just short, while a Biffle miscue on pit road and other miscues of his own left him with a surprise appearance on this week's "Hot, Warm, Cold" list. Here's a breakdown of where Kenseth, Gordon, Biffle and some of the series' other top drivers stand heading to Las Vegas next week:

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2009 Daytona 500 Edition

Some teams came out of the block strong following good runs in Sunday’s Daytona 500. Due to the nature of restrictor-plate racing, fate can play a major role in which teams are successful and which head to California hoping to get their season on the right track. And while it's easy to get caught up in the hype of NASCAR's Super Bowl, following intermediate track races at California, Las Vegas and Atlanta will play a much larger role than Daytona in determining which teams and drivers are actually contenders and pretenders for the championship. Here are the Hot, Warm and Cold drivers following the Great American Race.

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not: 2009 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona Edition

Following Saturday’s Bud Shootout and Sunday’s qualifying session, some drivers and teams have already begun to stand out as possible contenders and definite holders of momentum - while others already have chinks in their armor before they can even get a donut on the driver’s side door. Here is this week’s list of Hot, Warm and Cold drivers:

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2008 Season Breakdown

The checkered flag has flown over the field at Homestead marking the end of a historic 2008 season. We saw controversial and exciting finishes, scary crashes and a historic third consecutive championship for the dynasty that is Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus and the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team. The season also featured three consistently dominant teams who took the Sprint Cup Series by storm. Johnson was obviously one of the three, but who were the two others? We have all that, including the three COLDEST teams of 2008, covered in this week's edition of edition of Who's Hot/Who's Not in Sprint Cup.

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2008 Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix

Very rarely do you see a former champion show so much admiration for another. But when Kurt Busch finished runner-up to points leader Jimmie Johnson this weekend at Phoenix, he admitted that the No. 48 team was "something special," and told fans to tune in or come to watch NASCAR's next big dynasty. It's true that nobody has been able to touch Johnson, Chad Knaus and Co. in the Chase, and this week's race was no different. Carl Edwards finished in the top five yet again, but lost points to the two-time defending champion, who won his seventh race of the year and increased his point lead to a nearly-insurmountable 141. Johnson and Edwards have certainly been in a league of their own these last few weeks, but who else has been HOT as the season winds down? Check out this week's edition of Who's Hot/Who's Not in Sprint Cup, Chase Edition to find out.

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2008 Dickies 500 at Texas Edition

Last week I said in this column that Jimmie Johnson all but had his third consecutive title locked up; Don't tell Carl Edwards, who is trying his best to make sure that doesn't happen. Chasing down the series leaders in both Nationwide and Sprint Cup, Edwards is riding back-to-back victories on the Cup side in an effort that has closed the deficit between he and Johnson to 106 points. Still, it appears Edwards needs Johnson to hiccup in one of the final two races to have a shot at the championship. With just two races remaining, the 1-2 drivers at the top of the standings are clearly among the hottest drivers in the series. But who else is on a roll? Who needs a good run this weekend at Phoenix? Check out this week's edition of Who's Hot/Who's Not in Sprint Cup: Chase Edition to find out.

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2008 Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta Edition

Carl Edwards returned to victory lane this weekend at Atlanta and is now one win behind Kyle Busch for the series lead, but Jimmie Johnson utilized late-race pit strategy for an impressive runner-up finish. The second-place run improves the No. 48 team's stranglehold on the rest of the Chase field to 183 points, increasing the likelihood of what would be a third consecutive championship. Johnson has garnered the most headlines since the Chase began seven races ago, but it's one of his teammates who has quietly been one of the most consistent drivers right along with him. To see who that is and who else has been strong as of late, check out this week's version of Who's Hot/Who's Not in Sprint Cup: Chase Edition.

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2008 TUMS QuikPak 500 at Martinsville

It was the same track, same story for Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team, who extended their top-10 streak at Martinsville to 13 races with a win this weekend. Not only did Johnson extend his top-10 streak at the paperclip half-mile, but he also extended his top-10 streak overall to eight races on the season. With Jeff Burton struggling this weekend, Johnson is now the lone driver on this week's HOT list. While Johnson is clearly the series' hottest driver and appears to be headed toward a third consecutive championship, a handful of drivers make the WARM list this week. To see if your favorite makes the cut, or if they need nothing more than a solid run at Atlanta, check out the latest edition of Who's Hot/Who's Not in Sprint Cup, Chase Edition.

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2008 Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Edition

This week's race was a crucial one for a number of teams who ran into problems last week at Talladega. One of those contenders - the No. 99 of Carl Edwards - saw similar luck this weekend, when electrical issues forced him to lose a number of laps en route to a 33rd-place finish. But Edwards was not the only Chaser to follow up a bad day at Talladega with a poor finish at Lowe's. To see who else needs a good run this weekend at Martinsville and who is ready to battle Jimmie Johnson for the title, check out this week's summary of Who's Hot/Who's Not, Chase Edition.

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2008 Amp Energy 500 at Talladega Edition

In the end, after a number of Chasers raced conservatively for three quarters of the Talladega race in anticipation of the big wreck, it was ironically one Chaser tangling with another that triggered a multi-car pileup that included several of those in the top 12. No. 2 in points Carl Edwards ran over teammate and No. 3 man Greg Biffle to start a chain reaction that claimed 11 cars. One of the few Chasers surviving the race was points leader Jimmie Johnson, who opened up a sizable 72-point lead in the standings as a result. Johnson remains on the HOT list this week, but a surprising driver joins him, becoming a surprise player in this year's championship battle. To see who it is, and whose Chase hopes went up in smoke, check out this week's edition of Who's Hot/Who's Not in Sprint Cup, Chase Edition.

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