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Hot 20 – The final hurdle for Bowyer and the rest comes this Saturday night in Richmond

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If history repeats itself, there will be no surprise winner at Richmond on Saturday night. Going back over the past 10 years, every single driver who has won there is currently locked into the Chase for this year. Except for one.

Clint Bowyer has a pair of victories on the 3/4-mile track, but none anywhere to his credit this season. To make it worse, even if a first-time driver does not emerge this weekend to steal his thunder, he still sits just 29 points up on Aric Almirola for the final Chase position, with Kasey Kahne just a couple of points further back. A sour engine, a meeting with a wall or a competitor, a bad tire or messed up pit stop at the wrong time, and Bowyer’s season turns south faster than one’s job security at Michael Waltrip Racing. To make sure he is in, Bowyer needs to finish in the Top 25 on Saturday night. That and hope history does indeed repeat itself.

The odds are almost prohibitive that the winner this weekend at Richmond will be from amongst our Hot 20…

1. JIMMIE JOHNSON – 4 WINS
Expect the team of Jimmie, Chad, and Lowe’s to be around for some time yet.

2. KYLE BUSCH – 4 WINS
The story of the year to this point.

3. JOEY LOGANO – 3 WINS
Liked Johnson’s car so much he almost took it out with a spin last week.

4. MATT KENSETH – 3 WINS
Progress last week was thwarted by an early Darlington stripe…okay, more like a sledge hammer.

5. KEVIN HARVICK – 2 WINS
A late trip to the pits in Darlington was the pits for Harvick.

6. DALE EARNHARDT JR. – 2 WINS
Getting some real cool throwback gifts from fans lately, including on his last trip to Walmart.

7. KURT BUSCH – 2 WINS
Went digital with his Darlington dashboard.

8. CARL EDWARDS – 2 WINS
After three Bristol wins, he has added a World 600 and a Southern 500 to the collection in 2015.

9. BRAD KESELOWSKI – 1 WIN
Led the most laps, but Edwards got to walk down the aisle, leaving him a bridesmaid.

10. MARTIN TRUEX JR. – 1 WIN
A Darlington Top Ten, and he wasn’t happy. Has three Top Tens in last four at Richmond.

11. DENNY HAMLIN – 1 WIN
On Saturday night, he denied Daniel Suarez his first career XFINITY victory. My hero.

12. JAMIE MCMURRAY – 726 POINTS
To make the Chase, he just needs to start on Saturday night. If he gets the flu, it could get messy.

13. RYAN NEWMAN – 714 POINTS
If his finishing position matches his car number, or better, he rockets in as well.

14. JEFF GORDON – 700 POINTS
17th will do no matter what anyone else does…and he needs that only if there is not a repeat winner.

15. PAUL MENARD – 692 POINTS
Ninth if there is a first time winner…38th if there is not.

16. CLINT BOWYER – 682 POINTS
25th gets him in if history repeats itself, or a move ahead of Ryan, Jeff, or Paul if it does not.

17. ARIC ALMIROLA – 653 POINTS
Has the King’s car and last week stole his old mustache.

18. KASEY KAHNE – 651 POINTS
Can’t grow a mustache. Okay, I am just guessing here.

19. GREG BIFFLE – 598 POINTS
I could get Biffle into the Chase…but it has to be in EA Sports’ indestructible mode.

20. AUSTIN DILLON – 586 POINTS
One of three Cup guys in the XFINITY race. Go Austin! Go Rowdy! Go Joey! Just be gone!

20. KYLE LARSON – 586 POINTS
Last week, they called him Mello Yello, but is he truly just mad about Saffron?

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Ron Thornton
A former radio and television broadcaster, newspaper columnist, Little League baseball coach, Ron Thornton has been following NASCAR on this site for 13 seasons. The fact he is referred to as a Senior Writer has little to do with his ability or length of service, but more about just how old he has become. It is anticipated that before the end of this campaign, he will be promoted to Ancient Scribe.

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