The AAA 400 Drive For Autism proved to have a lot of excitement within the final laps. We were determined to have a first time winner in 2016, and that so far has been a positive point. What wasn’t so positive at Dover was not enough SAFER Barriers or cars losing liquids at an awkward time. Miles the Monster most definitely played his part over the weekend, even with rain coming in. So who are the five hottest NASCAR drivers before the All-Star Race on Saturday? Let’s have a look:
- Matt Kenseth: It may have took longer than we thought, but Kenseth finally broke his string of bad luck holding off Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott, who were both looking for his first ever Sprint Cup win. Three top 10’s the last four races proves to be the turnaround while he only got one in the first eight. Kenseth was no doubt a contender, his bad luck seemed to roll over from the Chase last season. But now that he’s no longer winless, we can thankfully stop talking about last year.
- Kurt Busch: While teammate Kevin Harvick looks to fall into a slump and rumors float around of him heading to Hendrick, Kurt appears to have the longest streak of top 10’s so far this season. A sixth straight top 10 while avoiding the Big Ones at Talladega andDover doesn’t appear to be luck. In some point or another, Kurt will become the eighth driver to punch into the Chase. Could he repeat at Michigan? Seems like a fair chance to do so.
- Brad Keselowski: Taming the demons at Talladega seems to have helped him survive the other Big One at Dover. Since winning Talladega, Keselowski has three straight top 10’s and has been the frontman for Team Penske since. It has helped give him a sixth place finish at Dover and giving him his longest streak of top 10’s so far this season. He’s led 40 or more laps in two of the last three races, while teammate Joey Logano appears to be headed the opposite direction.
- Ryan Blaney: The only open driver to show potential in the first third of the season and contend for Rookie of the Year. While he struggled from Fontana to Richmond, he survived from Talladega to Dover while he too racked up some top 10’s during that time. Blaney’s best finish so far is fifth at Kansas, and hopes to become the first rookie of the season to win a Sprint Cup race. Not only that, Blaney could be the first open driver to win under the new charter system.
- Kevin Harvick: He did indeed lead the most laps with 117 at Dover, but horrible pit stops continue to play a part in his quest of winning a second race. Since leading the most, Harvick still had to earn a spot on the list even with a 15th place finish. Now with rumors that he could replace Kasey Kahne at Hendrick next season, that could really throw a monkey’s wrench into the mix as 2016 gets deeper. If bad pit stops and rumors continue to plague him, Harvick could get passed racing still, and that has been a true fact this year.
Those like Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart can’t find any openings to get ahead while they get caught up in their own negativity. While Johnson contended for number 11 at Dover, one simple gear caused its version of the Big One, which pretty much altered the race altogether. For the time being, they can all focus on winning $1,000,000 at the All-Star Race coming up in Charlotte.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Bryan Law