Hot 20 – On to Las Vegas, and let the games begin

by Ron Thornton On Wed, Sep. 12, 2018

Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER BOATS Toyota, and Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, lead the field during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 12, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images.

Change is coming to NASCAR. Not the kind that makes people return in droves to the grandstands, but the change that always comes through the passage of time. Martin Truex Jr. moves to a new team, as his old one folds. That means Daniel Suarez is on the move, replacing the retiring Kasey Kahne. Jamie McMurray is in search of a new ride and we await word as to what the future holds for Kurt Busch.

Sunday in Las Vegas, 16 drivers will go through the first of three gauntlets to see who survives into the next round of the Playoffs. Playoff points give Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, and Truex good margins to build on to make it through. However, a run of real bad luck and someone else winning can turn things upside down for some. There is always the possibility of a change in the running order by the time we hit October. The question is, who will rise and who will fall?

In the north, things have gotten much colder than usual. In the east, the forecast is for wet and wild. In Las Vegas, the weather for Sunday calls for a temperature of up to 100 F (38 C). Too hot, too cold, too wet and wild. It seems a lot of folks would like to see some change.

For a few near the bottom of the rung among our playoff contenders, positive change will be what they seek this weekend. A few at the top like things to continue as they have been.

I guess change is something we have come to expect in these times. Now, it all depends on what kind of change is on its way.

1. KYLE BUSCH – 2050 POINTS (6 Wins)
Odds of making the next round of the playoffs are at least 4-to-1.

2. KEVIN HARVICK – 2050 POINTS (7 Wins)
The names of the winners of the past five Las Vegas races are Harvick, Keselowski, and Truex.

3. MARTIN TRUEX JR. – 2035 POINTS (4 Wins)
Team exits NASCAR. Car exits Indianapolis early. Time to stop exiting.

4. BRAD KESELOWSKI – 2019 POINTS (2 Wins)
Southern 500. Check. Brickyard 400. Check. A 2nd Cup Championship. On the Bucket List.

5. CLINT BOWYER – 2015 POINTS (2 Wins)
His odds of winning on Sunday are long. Very long.

6. JOEY LOGANO – 2014 POINTS (1 Win)
His last five visits to Las Vegas has seen him roll Top Tens every time.

7. KURT BUSCH – 2014 POINTS (1 Win)
Is this his last rodeo with Stewart-Haas?

8. CHASE ELLIOTT – 2008 POINTS (1 Win)
One Top Five, two crashes. Dad did not have any better luck at this track.

9. RYAN BLANEY – 2007 POINTS (1 Win)
Has rolled a lucky seven or better his last three trips down the Strip.

10. ERIK JONES – 2005 POINTS ( 1 Win)
One of the big stars of the future, but has the future arrived just yet or not?

11. AUSTIN DILLON – 2005 POINTS (1 Win)
Someone below him will move past him by the time they leave the Roval, unless…

12. KYLE LARSON – 2005 POINTS
Running second does not equate into playoff points, but is an indicator of what might be to come.

13. DENNY HAMLIN – 2003 POINTS
His point total should indicate a rather quick exit, but only a fool would bet against him just yet.

14. ARIC ALMIROLA – 2001 POINTS
Of course, he will not get out of the opening round, but that car has some serious speed.

15. JIMMIE JOHNSON – 2000 POINTS
His date with eight will not be easy to lock down.

16. ALEX BOWMAN – 2000 POINTS
Making a cameo this season. Needs to be better, not just better than the last half of the field.

17. RYAN NEWMAN – 532 POINTS
Decent enough the past seven races, but 11 times outside the Top Twenty killed his chances.

18. PAUL MENARD – 524 POINTS
A Top Ten at Indianapolis, but outside that standard the previous ten events.

19. RICKY STENHOUSE JR. – 521 POINTS
Bad luck and a bad engine last week was symbolic of how his season has gone.

20. DANIEL SUAREZ – 511 POINTS
Making room for Truex next season, so does he replace the retiring Kasey Kahne?

** 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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