NASCAR: Who’s hot and who’s not heading to Phoenix

AVONDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 12: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the
AVONDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 12: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the /

The NASCAR Cup series moves to Phoenix this weekend for the first time in 2018. Who’s hot heading into Phoenix, and who’s not?

The NASCAR Cup Series stays in the desert for one more weekend, this time at the 1-mile ISM Speedway oval in Avondale, Arizona. Who will be comfortable in the desert heat? Who’s feeling the heat?

The NASCAR Cup Series weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway went pretty much the same way the previous week’s stop at Atlanta did, with Kevin Harvick scoring a dominating victory. Will his hot streak continue in Phoenix.

Who’s hot for Phoenix

Kevin Harvick: Let’s call it what it is: the dude is hotter than the sun right now. Harvick has led a combined 395 laps while rolling to his two straight wins. While his Las Vegas win lost a bit of luster after NASCAR leveled some pretty big sanctions on the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 team, he heads to a track where he has won five of the last nine Cup Series races. He has also only finished out of the top 10 at the track twice since April of 2010.

Joey Logano: The Team Penske driver spends another week at the top of the points standings. Logano has been solid all season long, and he just picked up his third top 10 finish in as many races so far this season. He also led a season-high 25 laps on Sunday.

Martin Truex, Jr.: Don’t look now, but last year’s NASCAR champion is building momentum. A win at Las Vegas last year helped kick-start his 2017 season. Sunday’s fourth place effort puts Truex Jr. in a third place tie in points in 2018.

Ryan Blaney: A pole and a fifth place finish at Las Vegas leaves Blaney second behind Logano in points by just one point. Given his dominance at Daytona and his performance at Las Vegas, his first win of the season may be coming soon.

Who’s not for Phoenix

Austin Dillon: Since winning the Daytona 500, Dillon has finished 14th and 13th, respectively, in the last two races. Of course, it’s kind of a moot point, since, well, he won the Daytona 500 and he’s already in the playoffs. Phoenix hasn’t been good to Dillon, either, as he has finished 15th or worse in six of his eight Cup Series races there.

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Ricky Stenhouse, Jr: The 2018 season looked to have breakout year potential for Stenhouse, Jr., but instead, he crashed out of the Daytona 500 and hasn’t finished either of the other two races on the lead lap.

Chase Elliott: Elliott’s season certainly isn’t going the way he probably planned it. Then again, it’s not all of his doing, either. He’s been fast, but he already has two DNFs this season as a result of crashes at Daytona and Las Vegas. While neither wreck would be considered his fault, it’s an indicator of his up-and-down luck this season. He finished second in the Phoenix race last fall and led 140 laps between the two races at the track a year ago, so a redemptive weekend might not be far away.

Jamie McMurray: While it seems like teammate Kyle Larson is picking up momentum, McMurray is moving in the other direction. He’s finished 16th, 19th and 36th place, respectively, in his three starts so far this season. His cold streak dates back to last season. Since the Talladega race last fall, McMurray has just one top 10 finish and four finishes of 29th or worse in nine races.

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The desert can be a cruel place. Who will take momentum into the final western swing race at Fontana? Who will succumb to the elements? Tune in to Fox at 3:30 pm ET this Sunday, March 11th for the TicketGuardian 500 to find out.