Saturday, Oct 16

Crew Chatter: Talladega

Friday, Oct 21 1593

Fire up the scanners, it is time for Crew Chatter with Speedway Digest writers. This week we tackle Talladega with the question, “With the Chase for the Sprint Cup reaching its halfway point, who is hot and who is not going into the second half?”

 

Brett Winningham

The two drivers I'm really surprised by is Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski. I thought those two drivers were gonna be on fire in this years Chase. I think you could also say the same about Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott. I felt going into this thing that they would be atop the standings throughout the entirety as well. 

Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson, who already have their tickets punched into the next round of the Chase, were definitely expected. As well as Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards. One driver I thought would be higher up a little bit in this round is Martin Truex Jr. 

It'll be interesting to see if a driver facing elimination can add their name to the win column this weekend. With it being Talladega, and that anything can happen, it probably won't surprise us if a driver facing elimination does win. 

 

Katie Williams

If I had to pick someone who's hot right now, it's Jimmie Johnson. He won races earlier in the regular season, then he was quiet all summer. Fans were asking 'what's wrong with Jimmie?' Absolutely nothing. I think some drivers have their peak times during the year, just as I seem to on the back of a horse. 

Once Johnson got to the Chase, there were some pit road problems that probably cost him winning a race in the 'Round of 16' but he won Charlotte to move into the 'eight'. He finished fourth at Kansas, not a trip to Victory Lane, but enough to keep him at the top of the playoff standings with 3048 points. Who knows what will happen at Talladega but he's safe.

I'm staying in the Hendrick camp for my driver 'who's not' hot, Chase Elliott. It seems like he's hot and then he's cold during every race. Has been in the hunt for a win but it always seems to escape him. For instance, last week, he ran in the top five and led laps but a smoking left rear tire dampened his chances again. I think he needs to capitalize on a win to stay in the Chase. Even if he doesn't get caught in the 'big one', he's still in 'Elimination Station'.

 

Davey Segal

Who's hot: Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick (obviously). The only two drivers with bids into the Round of 8 can rest easy heading into Talladega. For the other 10 drivers, that's not the case. However, there are a couple more drivers who are hot.

They include a couple Toyota's in Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. The defending champion is in solid shape heading into the final race of this round and has been the brightest spot for JGR throughout the season.

As for the No. 78, despite his struggles this round, when you look at his round one and the fact that he's to the good as of now, he has been one of the dominant cars throughout the Chase.

Who's not: Austin Dillon and Chase Elliott. Dillon was an unpopular pick to advance to the Round of 12. Yet, here he is: tied with the man who swept this round one year ago, Joey Logano, for the final transfer spot. He has been okay, but not dazzling. He has to dazzle on Sunday at 'Dega (his favorite and statistically best track) if he wants to advance.

Elliott has shown speed throughout the Chase, but hasn't had the luck and circumstances fall his way. From getting hit from behind at Charlotte to tire issues at Kansas, the No. 24's results haven't been indicative of how he's ran so far. Nevertheless, he's in a must-win situation -- for all intents and purposes -- this weekend.

Denny Hamlin also is cooling off. He's experiencing more "Denny Hamlin Luck" in the Chase with blown engines, delaminated splitters and more. Being JGR car, he has the speed, but the luck might bite Hamlin once again in 2016.Who's hot: Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick (obviously). The only two drivers with bids into the Round of 8 can rest easy heading into Talladega. For the other 10 drivers, that's not the case. However, there are a couple more drivers who are hot.

They include a couple Toyota's in Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. The defending champion is in solid shape heading into the final race of this round and has been the brightest spot for JGR throughout the season.

As for the No. 78, despite his struggles this round, when you look at his round one and the fact that he's to the good as of now, he has been one of the dominant cars throughout the Chase.

Who's not: Austin Dillon and Chase Elliott. Dillon was an unpopular pick to advance to the Round of 12. Yet, here he is: tied with the man who swept this round one year ago, Joey Logano, for the final transfer spot. He has been okay, but not dazzling. He has to dazzle on Sunday at 'Dega (his favorite and statistically best track) if he wants to advance.

Elliott has shown speed throughout the Chase, but hasn't had the luck and circumstances fall his way. From getting hit from behind at Charlotte to tire issues at Kansas, the No. 24's results haven't been indicative of how he's ran so far. Nevertheless, he's in a must-win situation -- for all intents and purposes -- this weekend.

Denny Hamlin also is cooling off. He's experiencing more "Denny Hamlin Luck" in the Chase with blown engines, delaminated splitters and more. Being JGR car, he has the speed, but the luck might bite Hamlin once again in 2016.


Caleb Whisler

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase has seen dominate cars during the regular season seem to fade away. Toyota has been matched by Hendrick Motorsports as the Chase for the Sprint Cup began. The hottest drivers right now have to be Jimmie Johnson and Harvick. The lukewarm drivers would have to be the Joe Gibbs Racing camp including the satellite of Marin Truex Jr. The cold drivers would have to be Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott, and Kurt Busch. Something has to happen for these drivers to  advance.

Caleb Whisler

I am 19 years old from Atlanta, GA. I have been following motorsports since I was born. Motorsports has been "passed down" in my family. I am named after NASCAR Hall of Famer, William Caleb Yarborough, also known as Cale. Growing up in the southeast, racing was something that was a Sunday tradition after church. What an honor it is to share that passion with others.

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