Who’s hot, who’s not heading to Kentucky?
NASCAR heads back to a 1.5-mile track this week for the last time before the playoffs begin in September.
With five of the 10 playoff races on 1.5-mile tracks, including the championship race in Miami, these venues are critical.
Jimmie Johnson has 28 wins on 1.5-mile tracks, the most in series history. He won at Texas earlier this year. Winners at the other 1.5-mile tracks this season have been: Brad Keselowski (Atlanta), Martin Truex Jr. (Las Vegas, Kansas) and Austin Dillon (Charlotte).
Here is a look at some of the drivers who are hot and those who are not heading into Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway on NBCSN.
WHO IS HOT
Finished 31st at Daytona (accident); led a race-high 35 laps and won stage one
Series-high nine top fives in 2017
Three Kentucky wins (2012, 2014 and 2016)
Started on the front row in the last three Kentucky races
Only one finish worse than sixth in the five 1.5 mile races this season
Finished 33rd at Daytona, accident
Won at Sonoma
Finished top 10 in eight of the last 11 races
Finished top 10 in the last four races at Kentucky, best of 7th in 2014
Three poles on 1.5 mile tracks this season, four top-10 finishes
Finished 12th at Daytona
Top 10 finishes in all but one race at Kentucky, 32nd last year (accident from 10th on lap 32)
28 career 1.5 mile wins, most all-time
Two wins this season, Auto Club Speedway and Michigan, leads the points
Finished top two in seven races this season
Finished top 10 in all but six of the 36 stages in 2017 (including Duel)
Best finish at Kentucky is 19th last year
Finished 14th at Daytona
10 top 10 finishes of 2017, had only three at this point last year and 12 all of 2016
Finished runner-up at Kentucky in 2013, one of two top 10 finishes there, the other was seventh in 2016
WHO IS NOT
Finished 26th at Daytona, scored points in both stages
Has not had back-to-back top 10 finishes this season
Scored his first career win at Pocono
Only one series start at Kentucky, finished 35th last year
Finished 36th at Daytona
Only two top 10 finishes this season, had eight at this point last year
Best Kentucky finish is 16th, twice
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Finished 32nd at Daytona after winning the pole, only led one lap
Nine finishes of 20th or worse in 2017
Two top 10 finishes at Kentucky in six starts, both top fives, best of fourth
Three 1.5 mile wins, last was Chicago in 2005
Finished 35th at Daytona
Six top five finishes in the first nine races this season, only one in the last eight
Finished better than 12th only once in the last eight races of 2017
Won at Richmond but was encumbered
Top 10 finishes in three of the last four races at Kentucky, best of 2nd in 2015