Bump & Run: Which driver is next to score first Cup win?

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We all have opinions, and we all think we’re right. Of course, that isn’t always the case even though we don’t like to believe that.

Today debuts NBC Sports’ opinion forum, Bump & Run. Each Tuesday, our analysts and writers will give their take on the various topics of the day.

Feel free to join the discussion or vote in the polls with these throughout the year. We know you have an opinion on these subjects.

  • Who is the next driver to get their first Cup win?

Nate Ryan: Ryan Blaney. He showed last year he has the ability (top fives at Kansas, Michigan, Chicagoland). Wood Brothers Racing’s move to a shop closer to Team Penske will ensure Blaney maximizes that potential this season.

Dustin Long: Austin Dillon. He placed in the top 10 in each of the four plate races, and his 13 top-10 finishes last year came at 10 different tracks, showing a versatility. Add crew chief Slugger Labbe’s gambling ways and this team could be celebrating this season.

Daniel McFadin: Chase Elliott is the closest to breaking through, and if he manages to do it in the Daytona 500, he’ll match Jeff Gordon in getting his first Cup win in his 42nd start.

Jerry Bonkowski: Chase Elliott has the best shot. He was impressive as a rookie, made the Chase, he just needed a win. That win — and maybe more than one — comes in 2017.

  • Who is the top team at Ford with Stewart-Haas Racing moving over there this year?

Nate Ryan: Team Penske. Stewart-Haas Racing still has more cars, but Penske has them covered pound for pound with Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski. Expect intrasquad competition between the organizations (which won’t be sharing much information) to be fierce, though.

Dustin Long: Team Penske’s two cars trumps Stewart-Haas Racing’s one and a half (Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch). Nate’s right. It could be just as interesting to see how well these teams get along.

Daniel McFadin: Until we have a healthy sample size after a few races, Team Penske will still be the top Ford organization. In the last three seasons its two-team operation has 25 wins, while Stewart-Haas and its four teams (with Chevy) had 17. 

Jerry Bonkowski: Team Penske, without a doubt. You can’t go against 27 combined Cup wins — including a Daytona 500 triumph — in the last four seasons in a Penske Ford. SHR will have success, but there could be a development curve getting adjusted to the new manufacturer. 

  • Other than Jimmie Johnson, no other active driver has more than one Cup championship. Who will be the next to reach two series titles?

Nate Ryan: Brad Keselowski. He admittedly is obsessed with shaming the naysayers who point to his 2012 championship as a fluke. Through his smarts and sheer will, Keselowski will ensure his legacy is defined by the validation of being a multi-time champion.

Dustin Long: Joey Logano. Yes, he doesn’t have a title yet and five others have one championship each, but Logano’s time is now. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him win two of the next three or four titles.

Daniel McFadin: I see Brad Keselowski as the best chance to get another title. While it may not be this year, he tends to operate on the San Francisco Giants format of enjoying success every other season. Since his 2012 title, he’s won multiple races in 2014 and 2016.

Jerry Bonkowski: With the enhanced race format this season, strategy — and the crew chief that is best at adapting to the format (other than Chad Knaus) — will be more important than ever. I think one of the Busch brothers — Kyle (crew chief Adam Stevens) or Kurt (Tony Gibson) — will be the first to earn a second Cup crown of all drivers that currently have one title.