Hot 20 – At least the Kansas race this year is not sponsored by SpongeBob or the Ninja Turtles

Brand names, especially strong memorable ones, can truly make an event stand out. The Daytona 500, the Southern 500, and the Brickyard 400 have meaning or should, with proper marketing. The Firecracker 400, Old Dominion 500, Mason-Dixon 500 all had a ring to them, not the ka-ching ring they were tossed aside for.

The GoBowling.com 400 this Saturday night in Kansas is a case in point. In fact, it is the very same name of a race held in Dover in 2013 and 2014, tradition be damned. To be fair, it could have been a lot worse. Remember, last year this race was known as the SpongeBob SquarePants 400, a time no doubt when more than a few veteran fans said to hell with it and started tuning in for rhythmic gymnastics for their sports fix.

Even more iconic corporate monikers, such as the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, which has gone by variations of that theme for thirty years, fail to cut it. As was the case with the Coca-Cola 500 at Pocono, one day the corporation will move its money elsewhere. The smart play would be to forever let it be known as the World 600, as it was known for its first 26 years. Even the Coca-Cola World 600 of 1985 remained true to the heritage of the sport while retaining the brand name of the event and still recognizing the corporate support. Today, even the sponsor loses. You tell me what has more substance; the GoBowling.com 400 or the GoBowling.com Kansas 400?

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College football had wandered off the traditional path, and even today the Gator Bowl, around since 1945, has been the Taxpayer Bowl since 2014. However, the academic folks were smart enough to realize its season-ending playoffs would be best served by embracing tradition. This is why we have millions tuning into the Rose, Orange, Sugar, Cotton, Peach, and Fiesta Bowls, with a title sponsor attached. For eight years we had the Chick-fil-A Bowl, but the “Peach Bowl” name was restored as a condition of joining the College Football Playoff rotation. You know, sometimes those schools have some bright people among them. NASCAR could use some of them.

What they do have are some pretty good drivers, with one of them about to win another (Place Sponsor Name Here) 400 event. Again, it could be worse. While SpongeBob and NASCAR team up for a new apparel line, just wait until September when we have the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 in Chicago. I kid you not.

Our Hot 20 heading to Kansas include…

1. KYLE BUSCH – 2 WINS – 342 PTS
I must admit I am not a big Skittles fan, but if Kyle ever gets a Smartie’s cake, I am in.

2. CARL EDWARDS – 2 WINS – 337 PTS
Damn near hit the wall last weekend. Thankfully, Junior got in the way.

3. JIMMIE JOHNSON – 2 WINS – 329 PTS
Won it for SpongeBob last spring and maybe now he can win it for the bowlers of the world.

4. BRAD KESELOWSKI – 2 WINS – 300 PTS
Should be wearing an “I survived Talladega” fire suit.

5. KEVIN HARVICK – 1 WIN – 351 PTS
On Sunday, he aborted take-off…and that was a good thing.

6. DENNY HAMLIN – 1 WIN – 269 PTS
Did not have a banner day last week, but as he already has a win, no big deal.

7. JOEY LOGANO – 316 PTS
My guess is if Logano caught fire, his peers would be lining up to help put it out.

8. KURT BUSCH – 312 PTS
When push comes to shove, Kurt has been pushing hard…and then the wrecks happen.

9. DALE EARNHARDT JR. – 279 PTS
Replacing the steering wheel with handlebars Saturday night.

10. MARTIN TRUEX JR. – 274 PTS
When times got tough, Truex simply got tougher…and wiser.

11. AUSTIN DILLON – 272 PTS
Seventeen pit stops, four wrecks, and yet a third place finish at Talladega on the Intimidator’s 65th birthday.

12. CHASE ELLIOTT – 271 PTS
If you thought the world loved young Chase, you were not listening to the in-car audio.

13. JAMIE MCMURRAY – 261 PTS
I thought he was having a good season, but he trails Harvick by 90 points and is yet to lead a lap.

14. A.J. ALLMENDINGER – 232 PTS
Talladega might have been a trying day, but he is back in a Chase place heading into Saturday.

15. MATT KENSETH – 231 PTS
Thinking of driving a bus at Kansas. The wheels on a bus go round and round, not up and over.

16. TREVOR BAYNE – 228 PTS
Last four starts have seen a rise in Bayne’s fortunes.

17. KASEY KAHNE – 224 PTS
Wants to lead a lap…any lap…anywhere…at some time this season.

18. RYAN BLANEY – 219 PTS
Twenty-ninth in Texas, 11th at Bristol, 28th in Richmond, and ninth last week seems to show inconsistency.

19. RYAN NEWMAN – 219 PTS
Ten races, one ninth place finish and another in 10th, might be better than most, but not good enough.

20. RICKY STENHOUSE JR. – 218 PTS
Within 10 of Bayne, and still has a 17 point bulge over Paul Menard in 21st.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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