He is fourth in the standings, second on these charts, but Kevin Harvick is the epitome of hot right now as the boys and girl head to New Hampshire for Sunday. In the last ten events, the only race Happy failed to record a top ten finish was Talladega, where he crashed out early. In fact, had he finished 38th instead of 40th that day, he still would have managed to be our hot man.
Once again, Harvick joins Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards (despite a 29th place finish at Daytona), Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart, and Matt Kenseth (33rd on Sunday) among those showing the way. While a bad day can juggle these standings and one’s Chase hopes, and even some can withstand that, these boys are definitely doing the right things at the right time. While both Stewart and Busch are still vulnerable should the furnace go out, the others are pretty safe bets to be running for the title come the fall.
Not so for Kasey Kahne and Brad Keselowski. Kahne has the second wildcard spot in his hand, but he had better have a firm grip on it. Despite decent showings at Sonoma and Kentucky, Kahne has been outside the top thirty in three of the past five races. Keselowski has not been in the top twenty in any race since Michigan and has had but one top ten result (Dover) over the past ten. Hot he is not.
If last year can be used as an indication, Kahne (win in the summer, 5th in the fall) and Keselowski (5th and 6th) could find some heat to turn things around. If they turn up cold even in New Hampshire, they both truly could be in real trouble. Stewart won there in 2011 and finished no worse than 12th last season, but in 2012 Kurt Busch could not crack the top twenty in either attempt. While Daytona is a bit of a wild card where even the weak can have a strong day (Casey Mears was 9th), Loudon may give us a sign as to whether the Colorado-based outfit has truly arrived or if they are still on the outside knocking on the door.
|Martin Truex, Jr.||289||9||5||(11)||1||2||5|
|Dale Earnhardt, Jr.||285||11||12||(5)||0||1||5|
|Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.||270||15||16||(17)||0||0||0|
|Juan Pablo Montoya||262||16||14||(23)||0||2||3|