The boys of NASCAR began their run for the championship in New Hampshire this week. Who had the magic and who was out of luck? We’ve got you covered!
Hot: Clint Bowyer. Forget sleeper, Clint Bowyer has just solidified himself as a top-notch Chase contender. With his win at the Magic Mile, Clint is now second in points, and riding a high wave of momentum. Look out, everybody!
Not: Jimmie Johnson. J.J. did not look like a four-time champ in Loudon. He spun once, and had to make a late pit stop thanks to a flat tire. After finishing worst of all the Chasers in the Chase’s first race, you have to wonder if Jimmie really is still the favorite.
Hot: Denny Hamlin. This is what champions are made of. When you can take a bad day and turn it into a good day, you are a force to be reckoned with. Hamlin and crew did just that at Loudon, rallying from a late spin to finish second.
Not: Tony Stewart. If the race had been called the Sylvania 298, Smoke would be second in points and celebrating his second victory in three weeks. As it is, Tony now finds himself in an early Chase hole. Can he recover?
Hot: Dale Earnhardt Jr. No joke: Junior finished fourth at Loudon, and ran competitively all day. He won’t win the championship, but if he keeps running like this, Junior Nation may have something to celebrate about before the season is over.
Not: Matt Kenseth. Not that he was a contender anyway, but his wreck really hurt any sliver of a chance he might have had at winning the title. And Brad Keselowski now has a new enemy.
Hot: Kevin Harvick. Not-so-Happy was another one of those drivers who turned a bad day into a good one at Loudon. But he’d better be careful, because he’ll have a hard time winning a championship sporting the negative attitude inside the car that he displayed on Sunday.
Not: Greg Biffle. When Biff’s not good, he’s bad. When he’s not bad, he’s somewhere in between. He was somewhere in between on Sunday, and that ain’t gonna cut it if he wants to win the title.
Hot: Jeff Gordon. With Clint Bowyer’s win, Jeffy might have just become the new Chase sleeper. Gordon has been quietly solid all season, and demonstrated excellent survival skills on Sunday, avoiding the calamity and finishing sixth.
Not: Jeff Burton. The Mayor finished worse than he ran at Loudon, which is the opposite of what he’s been doing. While his run on Sunday was promising, Burton has to finish the job.