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Who’s Hot / Who’s Not

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not: Outside The Chase after the 2007 Lifelock 400 at Kansas

*Hot / Not Update : Dover Edition* Last week, Roush Fenway teammates Greg Biffle and Jamie McMurray made the "Hot" list amongst the non-Chase crowd, as both were busy building momentum in the late stages of 2007. Well, The Biff came through with yet another strong performance, taking home the victory at Kansas Speedway, while McMurray faded a bit with a sub-par finish of 24th. Behind them, the current Budweiser driver, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and the future Bud pilot, Kasey Kahne, were labeled about average, with the No. 8 team on the rise and the No. 9 on the fall. However, both of these guys persevered at Kansas, bringing home Top 10s to help pad the stats of two seasons gone wrong. Finally, our cold "non-Chasers" Kyle Petty and Jeremy Mayfield came home 21st and 22nd, respectively...not all that bad for two drivers who need some breaks as we head towards the end of the season. *Hot* Frontstretch.com's "newsletter":/notice/9557/ was the first to tell you about the Hendrick team orders at Dover, with *Casey Mears'* subsequent disgust at being told to move over for teammate Kyle Busch in the No. 5 car.

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in the Chase: 2007 Dodge Dealers at Dover Edition

When looking at the schedule of the ten races in the Chase, most people would have pointed to Talladega as the track where wrecks and bad luck could turn the tide in the Championship. But in Dover on Sunday, the Monster Mile played tough and took a swing at some of the biggest names in the sport. By the end of the day, 13 caution flags had waved and four Chasers found themselves finishing 20th or lower. As is always the case when some people find misfortune, others reap the benefits. That was certainly the case for a few of the Chase drivers who left Dover with finishes a few places higher than where they had been running most of the day. So, which drivers left Dover feeling fortunate for surviving the monster, and which drivers felt like they had gone 12 rounds with the heavyweight champ? Read this week's Who's Hot and Who's Not in the Chase to find out.

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not: Outside the Chase after the 2007 Dodge Dealers 400 at Dover

*Hot* In a year that has included only three Top 5s, a crew chief change, and sponsorship uncertainty, a season-high second place finish at Dover is definitely something that *Greg Biffle* and his entire No. 16 team can get excited about. That's now six Top 20 finishes in seven races for The Biff, who showed flashes of his old self as he came charging through the field in the last laps of Sunday's race, taking advantage of fresh rubber to come home a few car lengths behind winner and teammate Carl Edwards. Of course, one good finish doesn't equate to the multiple victories of the last two seasons, including 2005's runner up finish in points. Biffle in particular made the intermediate tracks his personal playground back then, taking home a career high six trophies that year while coming into his own as a Cup driver. That confidence provided by past history should prove a good thing for this team, as five of the remaining eight Chase events will be held at tracks that are a mile and a half in length. And if all else fails, there's always Homestead, a track where Biffle has won the past three consecutive races. If he can continue to gel with crew chief Greg Erwin, look for Biffle to easily play the role of Chase spoiler for the remainder of the season.

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not In the Chase: 2007 Sylvania 300 at Loudon Edition

One race down...nine races to go. After his dominating performance on Sunday, Clint Bowyer has to be asking himself what the big deal is about all this Chase pressure everyone kept talking to him about. The only winless driver in the playoffs, he threw that status right out the window Sunday, coming out of the gates strong to score the first victory of his Cup career and climbing to fourth in points in the process. But Bowyer didn't stand alone in his success; for the majority of the Chasers, Loudon proved to be a solid starting point for their ten race quest for the Cup. In fact, the top seven finishing positions on Sunday went to drivers solidly within the Chase field; only three ended the day outside the Top 15, leaving the twelve car lineup more tightly bunched at this juncture than ever before. So, which drivers are still heating things up and hitting their marks as the Chase rolls on, and which ones are feeling the pressure to perform? Read this week's Who's Hot and Who's Not in the Chase to find out.

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not OUTSIDE The Chase: 2007 Sylvania 300 at Loudon Edition

NASCAR's playoffs may be full steam ahead - but that doesn't mean the other 31 drivers stop racing each week. Whether they're building momentum for 2008, out there fighting for a job, or just infused with the plain ol' desire to win, each one has something to strive for as the races wind down. It's a chance to make up for lost time, stealing the spotlight from this year's title contenders while looking for a little late season hardware of their own. These drivers know there's pressure of a different kind; after missing the playoffs, their futures could depend on proving to fans, the media, and their current team they've still got what it takes to compete at the sport's top level. So, which one of the non-Chasers is in the best position to spoil the championship party at Dover? Read on to find out who in this week's edition of Who's Hot / Who's Not… _outside_ the Chase. One note before we begin…unlike our regular edition, we only highlight six drivers in this edition of Who's Hot / Who's Not…which means to make the list, you need to really be on fire (or ice cold, for that matter).

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in the Chase: 2007 Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond Edition

Now that Dale Earnhardt Jr. watch is over, the focus over the last ten races of the year will be on the twelve drivers making a run for the Nextel Cup Championship. With his second straight victory, Jimmie Johnson put the competition on notice that they will have to take on the No. 48 team to take the trophy that they earned last season. But with six of the Chase drivers finishing in the Top 10 at Richmond, they are proving to be up to the challenge. So who left Richmond riding high and ready for battle and which drivers walked away wishing they had a little more time to prepare? Read this week's Who's Hot and Who's Not in the Chase for the Championship. *Hot* *Jimmie Johnson:* After a summertime slump that saw him go 15 races without a win, Johnson has flipped the switch and heads into the Chase as the top seeded driver with six wins; including back to back victories at Fontana and Richmond. The change came after he posted two straight DNF's at Chicago and Indy when he dropped to ninth in the standings. He went on a roll with three straight Top 5s before a mediocre finish at Bristol and followed it up with his two most recent wins. This hot pace will be hard to keep up as the Chase battle brews, but the No. 48 team is serving notice that they will be a force to be reckoned with as they go for two championships in a row.

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Nextel Cup: 2007 Sharp Aquos 500 at Fontana Edition

Three things easily sum up this weekend's race at California Speedway: hot, hot and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Countless Earnhardt fans were on the edge of their seats just waiting to see if one of the drivers at the bottom of the Top 12 would slip up, giving their man a chance at making the Chase and the rest of us were forced to go along for the ride as the entire race seemed to be a case of "Where in the World is Dale Jr. Now?" At the end of the night, Earnhardt finished a solid fifth, but still is a long shot to make it into the post season Chase. But as the summer sun baked the drivers, crew members and the scarce number of fans in the stands; Jimmie Johnson came out on top to score his fifth win of the season and looking like he barely broke a sweat. So what other drivers thrived in the sweltering heat and which ones shriveled up under the pressure? Read this week's who's hot and who's not to find out.

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Nextel Cup: 2007 Sharpie 500 at Bristol Edition

For some, the racing at Bristol Saturday night was the best it has been in years. For others, it was a Bristol race in name only, with no fireworks and little excitement. But no matter which side of the fence you are on, there were plenty of winners and losers coming out of the annual madhouse that is Thunder Valley in late summer. Carl Edwards added another ten bonus points to his Chase count, and should get extra points for sticking the backflip on Bristol's high banks after his second win of the season. On the flip side, Denny Hamlin's fried engine left him with just his second career DNF. In between, what could have been a big night for a points shakeup amongst the Chasers instead never materialized, with no driver falling out of, or moving into, the playoffs. So, what drivers exited the Bristol bullring feeling like they had fought off the beast, and which ones felt like they got a horn square in the backside? Read this week's Who's Hot and Who's Not to find out.

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Nextel Cup: 2007 Centurion Boats at the Glen Edition

This weekend's race featured a spin to win, two drivers putting in their NASCAR best effort to pull each other's hair out after a wreck, and a crazed fan making his way onto the track during a red flag...just to ask for an autograph. Makes it sound like an August Cup race at Bristol, doesn't it? But instead, this was what transpired from what began as a tranquil Sunday afternoon in Western New York. Shocked? So were many of the fans who watched this year's edition of the Centurion Boats at the Glen. But they weren't the only ones happy to see a surprising series of twists and turns that matched the road course's 2.45-mile layout. Perhaps the biggest smile on the day came from stunned race winner Tony Stewart, who inherited the top spot as NASCAR's winningest road racer, Jeff Gordon, spun in turn one with just two laps to go, relinquishing the lead and ten bonus points to his longtime rival in the process. While the wild ending to the race was like Christmas in August for the fans, the Glen offered up presents for plenty of other drivers in the field. But like anytime gifts are handed out, some turned out good as can be and some were, well, equivalent to lumps of coal. On the receiving end of a good present were drivers like Ron Fellows and Robby Gordon, who scored Top 5 finishes, while Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Kevin Harvick, and Juan Pablo Montoya all wound up wanting to send theirs back C.O.D. So, which other drivers got the equivalent of a new bike on Christmas morning, and which ones were left staring at a box full of socks? Read this week's Who's Hot and Who's Not to find out all the details below: *Chase Watch:* _From now until the Chase begins, we'll take a look at the drivers gunning for a spot in the final 12 and tell you Who's Hot and Who's Not in their bid to make the playoffs._ *Hot - Tony Stewart:* With three wins in the past four races, Stewart has come to life this summer as many had anticipated. In the seven races since the last road course race at Sonoma, an early wreck at Daytona with teammate Denny Hamlin has been the source of Tony's only major downfall.

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Who’s Hot/Who’s Not In Nextel Cup: 2007 Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Edition

Unless you're a glutton for punishment, Kurt Busch, or one of Kurt Busch's fans (yes - he actually does have some), then you probably found Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono a real snoozefest. Busch started from second position, alongside Dale Earnhardt, Jr., but didn't stay there long; he made a mockery out of the race, leading 175 laps en route to his first win of the year and a spot inside the Top 12 in points. Unlike recent weeks, there weren't any potential Chasers that ran into major trouble on Sunday; the 14 main contenders all finished in the Top 17 positions, making the race for the Chase more competitive than ever with just five races remaining. So, which drivers left Pocono feeling revitalized and upbeat about the final month of the regular season ahead, and which ones were left feeling weary like the rest of us? Read this week's Who's Hot and Who's Not to find out.

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