Hot 20 – Four of the Season’s Top Eight Could be Eliminated after Talladega

When the smoke clears at Talladega, and I mean that literally, four of our top eight drivers throughout the course of the season, might no longer be contenders for the championship. With four races to follow, five time winner Brad Keselowski could be toast, along with three time winners Dale Earnhardt Jr and Jimmie Johnson, as well as the winless yet resilient Matt Kenseth. If the 2007 New England Patriots and 1968 Baltimore Colts can fall short, if the 2001 New York Yankees can be denied, then why not? Welcome to the playoffs, where someone will get eliminated and voted off the island (for fans of the Amazing Race and Survivor).

For Junior to advance, he has to win. He has said so himself. Same goes for Johnson, while Keselowski has a bit more wiggle room, but do not expect him to have many friends out there, outside of teammate Joey Logano. Kenseth can do it, as he is just a point behind Kasey Kahne in those standings. However, this is Talladega, where a contender could kick open the door for someone else with a finish somewhere beyond 30th due to circumstances beyond his control.

Keselowski was a tad out of control at Kansas. His view that everyone else started it when they tried to pay him back was laughable. His observation of events was faulty, his hit on an unbuckled Kenseth and burn out in the garage after the race were both nothing short of reckless. His $50,000 fine was warranted. Tony Stewart’s $25,000 fine for bashing in the front of Brad’s car was warranted, too, but it was sure a joy to watch.

It might not be the same for those out on the track, but for you and me, Talladega should also be a joy to watch. If only every race could be like the one we will be viewing on Sunday.

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*Race winners awarded 25 (rather than 3) bonus points
Bold = Current Chase contenders

Hot 20

1 – Jeff Gordon – 4 WINS – 1184 POINTS
2 – Joey Logano – 5 – 1154
3 – Brad Keselowski – 5 – 1106
4 – Dale Earnhardt Jr – 3 – 1075
5 – Kevin Harvick – 3 – 1052
6 – Jimmie Johnson – 3 – 1011
7 – Carl Edwards – 2 – 982
8 – Matt Kenseth – 0 – 950
9 – Ryan Newman – 0 – 950
10 – Kyle Larson – 0 – 940
11 – Kyle Busch – 1 – 899
12 – Kasey Kahne – 1 – 890
13 – Greg Biffle – 0 – 880
14 – Jamie McMurray – 0 – 867
15 – Austin Dillon – 0 – 847
16 – Clint Bowyer – 0 – 844
17 – Denny Hamlin – 1 – 832
18 – Paul Menard – 0 – 818
19 – Brian Vickers – 0 – 806
20 – Kurt Busch – 1 – 779

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