NASCAR: Who’s Hot/Who’s Not

This week’s race

The Profit on CNBC 500

What: 312 laps or 500k

Where: Phoenix International Raceway, a 1-mile paved slightly banked oval located in Avondale, Az.

When: 3:15 p.m. Sunday

TV: Fox

Radio: Motor Racing Network

Last year’s winner: Carl Edwards

Also this week: Blue Jeans Go Green 300, Nationwide Series, Phoenix International Raceway, 3:45 p.m. Saturday, ABC.

Worth mentioning: Regan Smith enters this weekend at Phoenix as the series points leader in the Nationwide Series after becoming the first series regular in 13 years years to win the season opener at Daytona. The last series regular to do so? Randy LaJoie in 2001.

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not


Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Now a two-time Daytona 500 winner and already a 2014 title contender.

Denny Hamlin: Looked like the guy to beat this year but came up one position short.

Austin Dillon: He was involved in a couple on-track incidents, but ninth is not a shabby debut for his full-time Cup season.

Casey Mears: Every year the 500 seems to produce a strong finish by an unexpected driver. Mears’ 10th fulfills the quota.

Regan Smith: Victory Lane is a far better ending to season opener than last year’s wreck in the Daytona Nationwide race.

Kyle Busch: May win a lot of Truck races, but few as exciting as his season-opening victory at Daytona.


Kyle Larson: Rough start to his rookie season.

Tony Stewart: His first points race back from injury, and he had to spend part of it in the garage.

Martin Truex Jr.: Missed Media Day to open Speedweeks because of bad weather, first out of 500 with blown engine.

Jim Utter