Forty drivers, 40 spots. Still, despite the lack of interest and resources for additional teams to attempt to enter the iconic competition, we have some high-quality contenders to watch out for. Alex Bowman and Denny Hamlin are locked into the front row, as long as their cars last. The rest of the top 20 qualifiers went into Thursday trying to protect their positions from all challengers in the two 20 car heats.
Some of those trying to turn up the heat were quality drivers who were trying to improve on what took place last Sunday. Heading into this Sunday, does anyone want to count out the likes of Ryan Newman, Kyle Larson, Jamie McMurray, Bubba Wallace, or defending Cup champion Martin Truex, Jr.?
I didn’t think so.
The Hot 20 prior to the Duels…
1. ALEX BOWMAN
2. DENNY HAMLIN
Denny who? Okay, I’m just messing with you.
3. JIMMIE JOHNSON
His date with 8 could begin on Sunday.
4. KYLE BUSCH
Some days he wins, some days he crashes, but damn near every day we know that he raced.
5. WILLIAM BYRON
6. ERIK JONES
I often wear a 2005 Little League coach’s shirt, and Jones would have been too young to play for us.
7. DANIEL SUAREZ
Open the border if that means more like him.
8. KEVIN HARVICK
Open the border, but what would Harvick do in Canada?
9. RICKY STENHOUSE JR.
If bad things happen, he won’t hear about it when he gets home…if you know what I mean.
10. CHASE ELLIOTT
Has Dad’s old number now needs some of Dad’s old results.
11. JOEY LOGANO
To win without penalty is his goal.
12. PAUL MENARD
New standard bearer for the Wood Brothers and the sponsor is not who you might think.
13. ARIC ALMIROLA
Aric does not look like Danica, but will his results by any different?
14. AUSTIN DILLON
If he can grow a mustache better than he wears a Stetson, I might have a suggestion for him.
15. RYAN BLANEY
This just in. Ryan is full of it. More at 11 on KB News.
16. CLINT BOWYER
Look at that. Sitting in a playoff position at the moment. How long will that last?
17. KURT BUSCH
Not the KB is was referring to earlier.
18. KASEY KAHNE
In 416 races, the No. 95 has not once won a race but Kahne was hired to change that.
19. BRAD KESELOWSKI
A bit slow early last Sunday, a bit fast later in the day seems to be pointing in the right direction.
20. TREVOR BAYNE
If he has a career like Mark Martin, the No. 6 is in good hands.