The boys of NASCAR were in the Valley of the Sun for Chase race #9. Who ended a drought in the desert and who left Phoenix thirsting for more? We’ve got you covered!
Hot: Carl Edwards. Good to see Carl end his 70-race winless streak on Sunday. My pick isn’t going to win the title, but there’s a lot of momentum to be built up for 2011. Let’s see if he can snag some more at Homestead.
Not: Denny Hamlin. Denny was fast in Phoenix, but some tough luck cost him some ground in the title run. He won at Homestead a year ago, and he may need to do so again. He’s more than capable.
Hot: Ryan Newman. Rocketman is going to petition for the whole 2011 season to be run at Phoenix. His average finish in the desert this year is 1.5, and though his season hasn’t gone as planned, a solid run at Homestead could be a good lead into his 2011 campaign.
Not: Kasey Kahne. Kasey and his former team(which will be mentioned later) parted ways a few weeks ago, but the results haven’t changed much. Since joining Team Red Bull four races ago, Kahne’s best finish is 13th, and he had a difficult time cracking the top 30 at Phoenix. That gas can on the back sure looked sporty though.
Hot: Joey Logano. This year, it’s Denny. Next year, Joey may be the one going after the title for Joe Gibbs Racing. At least, if his recent string of four consecutive top 5s is any indication.
Not: Brendan Gaughan. Brendan made his first Cup start since 2004 on Sunday. It didn’t last long, as Gaughan wrecked out on the first lap. Oh well, maybe next year. Or the year after. Or six years from now.
Hot: Greg Biffle. Again, Biffle didn’t win, and he probably isn’t happy about it. But there’s a lot to like about Biffle for the 2011 season with the way he’s been running.
Not: Brad Keselowski. It seems as though his Nationwide championship came so long ago. Brad can dominate in the old car, but he has had a hard time doing much in the Cup cars this season. Phoenix didn’t do much to boost his confidence.
Hot: Jimmie Johnson. J.J. picked up some ground in Phoenix courtesy of a late pit stop by Hamlin. Luck plays a big hand in championship races, but he may need to beat Hamlin outright at Homestead if he’s going to keep his title streak alive. It’s going to be very interesting.
Not: Richard Petty Motorsports. The RPM cars almost didn’t make it to Phoenix, and maybe it would have been best for them to stay in Texas. With the exception of AJ Allmendinger’s 19th-place finish, the RPM cars all failed to finish inside the top 25. Oh yeah, the team has a minor financial issue as well.