Hot or Not: Atlanta

Happy Labor Day race fans! The boys of NASCAR were in Hotlanta this weekend for the annual Labor Day event. Who deserves to take the day off and who has work to do? We’ve got you covered!

Hot: Tony Stewart. Stewart smoked the competition in a dominating performance Sunday night en route to his first victory of the 2010 season. After Bristol, I was a little skeptical about where Tony’s season was headed. But with his win in Hotlanta, Smoke looks primed for another title run.

Not: Kasey Kahne. Another year, another collapse for Kahne. It seems to come down to the wire for him every year, and in 2010, his Chase dreams weren’t meant to come true. Kasey and the #9 team never gave up though, and they still have a chance to finish their last season together on a high note. But it won’t end with a championship.

Hot: Carl Edwards. Since June, something has sparked the #99 team, and even Carl doesn’t know what it is. Edwards admits that he may not appear to be in his 2008 form, but he said that his team is more prepared to make a title run than ever. It’s showing.

Not: Greg Biffle. Fun fact: When Greg sports a sponsor related to something sticky(Nexcare bandages, Scotch Blue Painters’ Tape, etc.), he ends up crashing his car. Fortunately for Biffle fans, he’s slated to run the plain ol’ 3M scheme throughout the Chase.

Hot: Jimmie Johnson. I poked a little fun at him after Bristol, but it’s hard to keep Jimmie and the #48 team down for too long. I will admit, I seriously thought they were struggling for awhile. They had me faked.

Not: Denny Hamlin. Denny went from first to last Sunday night. Literally. Hamlin started from the Pole and led early before engine problems landed him in 43rd on the night. It’s probably best for the #11 team to get the mechanical gremlins out of their system now, before it counts.

Hot: Clint Bowyer. He did it. Clint Bowyer has made Richmond all but irrelevant. With his solid seventh-place effort on Sunday night, Bowyer now has a 117-point advantage over 13th-place Ryan Newman. Basically, all Clint has to do is avoid disaster. I think he’ll be alright.

Not: Kevin Harvick. While his teammate is picking up momentum on his way into the Chase, Harvick is doing the opposite. Kevin made a big miscue during a late cycle of green-flag pit stops, and wound up blowing a left-front tire. He can get away with mistakes like that now, but he better not make them in the Chase, or it could cost him dearly.

Hot: Dave Blaney. Blaney Nation, I know you’re out there, so this one’s for you. He may not have finished in the top 10, or even the top 20. But in his first race driving a non-start-and-park car in almost two years, Blaney stayed out of trouble, and gave the #38 machine a lead-lap finish, ending up 24th on the night. Atta boy, Dave Blaney!

Not: The Richmond race. It’s the one we look forward to every year. The race that decides who makes the Chase, and whose title hopes are dashed. This year, however, it’s a little different. No, we won’t know who’s “officially” in the Chase until the race is over. And no, the race won’t be entirely devoid of drama. But with 12th-place Clint Bowyer’s recent surge, we probably won’t be able to expect anywhere near the drama we’ve come to expect from this race.

Tags: Atlanta Motor Speedway Carl Edwards Clint Bowyer Dave Blaney Denny Hamlin Greg Biffle Hot Or Not Jimmie Johnson Kasey Kahne Kevin Harvick Richmond Tony Stewart

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