The fireworks appear to have settled from the Kobalt 400. The apparent fist of cuffs from the Logano-Busch incident have been decided by NASCAR not to penalize either driver as it was concluded that it was hard racing from the get go. Either way, NASCAR will still meet with both drivers when they arrive at Phoenix so unless there is a similar issue like Kenseth-Logano, more than likely it is now water under the bridge. Time to look at who are currently the five hottest NASCAR drivers after Las Vegas.
- Martin Truex Jr: He is the first driver to win both stages and the race giving him the maximum 60 points and a spot in the playoffs. He got Toyota its first win of the season after Ford took the Daytona 500 and Atlanta. Leading the most laps at 150 is the most so far since leading only two at Daytona and an eighth place finish at Atlanta. It was Truex’s earliest win in the Monster Energy series since finishing second in last year’s Daytona 500.
- Kyle Larson: Even with missing his second career Monster Energy win in Atlanta, he still managed to finish second behind Truex in Las Vegas, but due to a series of unfortunate events. Finishing fourth and second in the two stages shows some promise and maybe some competition within Chip Ganassi Racing. His teammate Jamie McMurray is not doing too bad himself now that he is in the top ten in points. It could be time to keep an eye on him.
- Chase Elliott: Even with starts outside the top ten, he still manages to finish in the top ten. Finishes in fifth and fourth in the stages and a third place finish at Las Vegas has made him the most reliable driver for Hendrick Motorsports right now. Now third in points and Kasey Kahne in ninth, it has become a reverse trend while seven time champion Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr have hit major snags. The 2016 Rookie of the Year for now is the most popular driver.
- Brad Keselowski: He almost repeated as champion at Las Vegas and won his second straight race, and nearly gave Ford their third consecutive win. Keselowski had just as strong as a car as Truex did and had the race won until a mechanical problem dropped him to fifth. But thanks to his Atlanta win and Kevin Harvick being knocked out of the race early, he now has the points lead heading into Phoenix. Keselowski at the moment is THE hottest driver.
- Joey Logano: He is the only driver who has finished in the top ten in all three races this season, including his fourth place finish at Las Vegas. His finishes and Keselowski’s Atlanta win have by far made Team Penske the hottest team in NASCAR while veterans from Hendrick and JGR struggle. His previous win in the Phoenix fall race could be an advantage for him when they get ready to battle the 90 degree plus heat. He once again starts off the first three races in the top five in points.
Penalties: Even with the win, Martin Truex Jr’s crew chief Cole Pearn was fined $10,000 for improper lug nuts. Bootie Barker who serves as crew chief for Ty Dillon in the Geico number 13 was also fined the same amount for the same penalty.
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