Hot 20 – Few are California Dreamin’

by Ron Thornton On Tue, Mar. 13, 2018

Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, takes the green flag to start the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 26, 2017 in Fontana, California. Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images.

Excitement, thy name is sure not Fontana. Not usually. There is a reason the idea to bring the Cup folks out to the Auto Club Speedway was abandoned after just seven seasons. It is bad enough to be a yawner on television, but when that is the perception live and in person, you have got a problem.

NASCAR has some pretty exciting tracks, with Bristol, Daytona, and Talladega leading the way. The entertainment value alone makes those stand-alone events, whether you know the difference between Kyle Busch and Cole Whitt or not. Others are steeped in history, while this season will provide us with familiar tracks becoming quite unfamiliar.

Last week was Phoenix, where new grandstands going up will cause a move of the start-finish line in time for November. New grandstands going up, new fans parked in those seats, a finish line right in front of all those newly accommodated peepers. What is now Turn Two becomes the focal point. Just imagine a finish where the track opens up, where even a daredevil can take their shot cutting low below the line in a bid for victory. Even the drivers like the idea.

Then there is Charlotte. They run the 600 miler on the traditional oval in May, but in September they will add to that oval a detour to include the interior road course. Something different to watch for. Something exciting is what they hope for.

As for California, it is not always a bore. Usually, but not always. Here is hoping we fans discover the exception on Sunday.

As for our Hot 20

1. KEVIN HARVICK – 2 WINS – 1 E.W. – 168 Pts
If the plan is to have his wins match his age, expect two more sooner than later.

2. AUSTIN DILLON – 1 WIN – 114 Pts
Winning the Daytona 500 was awesome, but did he retire after that?

3. KYLE BUSCH – 156 POINTS
If the plan was to watch Harvick’s backside every race, things are working out perfectly.

4. MARTIN TRUEX JR. – 156 POINTS
18th at Daytona, Top Fives ever since.

5. JOEY LOGANO – 152 POINTS
Not always at the front at the end of the day, but he seems to there at some time during the day.

6. RYAN BLANEY – 152 POINTS
Proved that country singer Cole Swindell is a bit of a screamer.

7. DENNY HAMLIN – 137 POINTS
Believes he needs just a little bit of speed to catch Harvick. 30 other guys might say the same.

8. BRAD KESELOWSKI – 134 POINTS
Won the Xfinity race last weekend. I outran a three-year-old. We are both winners.

9. KYLE LARSON – 131 POINTS
Will Chip Ganassi allow his driver to do the Memorial Day double? Most doubt it.

10. CLINT BOWYER – 125 POINTS
Clint is second best in the SHR garage…

11. ARIC ALMIROLA – 123 POINTS
…but not by much.

12. KURT BUSCH – 117 POINTS
Tony’s boys were all in the Top Ten on Sunday.

13. RYAN NEWMAN – 101 POINTS
580 consecutive starts. That ties him for ninth with Jimmie Johnson. Jimmie who?

14. PAUL MENARD – 97 POINTS
Some days are not good. Some days can get worse. That was Menard’s Phoenix experience.

15. ERIK JONES – 93 POINTS
Cup and MLB are similar in that damn few performers of Jones’ age make it to the Show.

16. CHASE ELLIOTT – 91 POINTS
Daytona bad. Atlanta good. Las Vegas bad. Phoenix good. He might want to change the trend.

17. ALEX BOWMAN – 91 POINTS
The Arizona native son was 13th last week for his best finish of the season.

18. RICKY STENHOUSE, JR. – 88 POINTS
Still seeking out his first Top Ten of the year.

19. DARRELL WALLACE JR. – 77 POINTS
Claimed more points at Daytona than in his next three events combined.

20. CHRIS BUESCHER – 75 POINTS
Phoenix was his worst finish of the year. His time on this chart could soon come to an end.

** The opinions expressed on this site are not necessarily those of the publisher. All comments other than website related problems need to be directed to the author. (c)SpeedwayMedia.com. **

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