Tha Sports Junkies 101

Playoff Round of 8 Preview

Photo by Chamberland_f1 via Flickr


So far in 2017, 6 Playoff races have been run in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. 4 races remain, and the next 3 are the Round of 8. 8 drivers, representing 3 manufacturers and 6 different teams are still contending for the 2017 championship. How are your favorite driver’s odds looking? Let’s take an in-depth look at all 8 drivers and their odds for the championship.

Martin Truex Jr-4,069 Points

The regular season champion has had a stellar Playoff run so far. In the first 6 races, he has 3 wins, including 2 races in the Round of 12. With Kyle Larson no longer being a factor, Truex is by far the favorite to win it all in Homestead. However, he knows that he still needs to perform to be one of the final 4 contenders. At 52 points above the cut line, Truex is basically a lock for Homestead.

Kyle Busch-4,042 Points

Busch’s Playoffs have been feast or famine. In the Round of 16 he won 2 times. However, in the Round of 12 his 3 finishes were 29th, 27th, and 10th. Busch was able to advance, but only due to other’s misfortunes. Looking ahead to the Round of 8, he has won at all 3 tracks, including 2016 wins at both Martinsville and Texas. He finished runner-up at Martinsville in the spring, so expect him to be fast again. With a 25 point lead over elimination, Busch can breathe relatively easy on his chances at advancing.

Brad Keselowski-4,026 Points

The 2012 champion had had his share of struggles in the 6 Playoff races. While he did win at Talladega, Brad is lacking in speed on mile-and-a-half tracks in comparison to the Toyotas. With this in mind, he sees this weekend at Martinsville as a must-win. If the Penske 2 team cannot win Martinsville, they may not advance past the Round of 8 due to a speed deficit. But, Brad did win Martinsville in the spring. He also finished 2nd in this race last year, so he should be a strong contender again.

Kevin Harvick-4,017 Points

Harvick and his Stewart-Haas Racing team have had an uncharacteristically inconsistent year. They have only 1 win at Sonoma but have had more speed in the Playoffs. Top-10 runs at each of the last 3 mile-and-a-half races have Harvick holding the all-important final transfer spot by a tiebreaker. Phoenix is in the Round of 8, where Harvick has 9 wins. But, his performance on the Arizona track recently has been less than expected. All this aside, Harvick could be a bracket buster if he can advance on to Homestead.

Jimmie Johnson-4,017 Points

If 2016 taught us anything, it should be to never count out the 48 team. Jimmie’s Playoff run this year is eerily similar to last year. Should he win it all this year, it would be his record 8th championship. However, this time a year ago he had won at Charlotte. The next 2 weekends, Johnson heads to some of his best racetracks in Martinsville and Texas. While outright speed may be lacking in team 48, luck can strike twice for this team in South Florida.

Denny Hamlin-4,014 Points

The FedEx 11 team at Joe Gibbs Racing should be considered a sleeper pick for the 2017 championship. Like the 4 drivers above, he has won at each track in the Round of 8. This includes 5 wins at Martinsville, where Denny is looking to win this weekend. Do not count Hamlin out yet, as his experience could pay off in a big way in Homestead.

Ryan Blaney-4,009 Points

1 of 2 ‘superb sophomore’ drivers to make the Round of 8, Ryan Blaney could possibly advance on; despite a points deficit. The Wood Brothers Racing driver was very fast at Texas this spring, leading 148 laps. Despite this, a poor pit selection at Martinsville could spell troubles for the 21 team. Martinsville pit selection will be based on last week’s qualifying efforts at Kansas, where Blaney was disallowed.

Chase Elliott-4,006 Points

‘Awesome Chase from the Same Place’ has definitely lived up to the Elliott legacy in 2017. Despite still being winless, the 21-year-old is looking to become the youngest ever Cup Series champion.  In the Playoffs, the 24 team has been outstanding, scoring 4 top-5 finishes. With top-10 runs at both Martinsville and Texas in the spring, Chase making it all the way to Homestead is still possible.

The Round of 8 for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will kick off this weekend in Martinsville. Should one of the above 8 drivers win in Matinsville, they will be racing in Homestead for the 2017 championship. Also, it will mark the final start for Dale Earnhardt Jr. at the Virginia short track. The First Data 500 is set to go green at 3 PM EST. Coverage can be found on NBCSN, MRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.