Nate Ryan, Dustin Long and Daniel McFadin tackle this weekend’s questions:
Austin Dillon became the eighth driver to be eligible for the playoffs with a win. With more than half the regular season to go and 13 of the top 20 drivers in points not yet qualified for the playoffs with a victory, will there be 16 different winners before the playoffs begin?
Nate Ryan: No. I see the possibility of a maximum seven more drivers earning wins – Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney and Matt Kenseth. And I’m not convinced all seven of those will win in the next 14 races.
Dustin Long: No. I still think at least two drivers will make the playoffs on points. Some drivers who have wins will grab more in the next 14 races.
Daniel McFadin: We’re bound to get at least two new multi-race winners – Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch – and one Chris Buescher-like freak winner. But I don’t think we’ll get to 16 separate winners.
Name one driver outside the top 16 in points not yet qualified for the playoffs via a win you think could make the playoffs.
Nate Ryan: Erik Jones. If he can match teammate Martin Truex Jr.’s speed and build some consistency, he can make it on points. Dale Earnhardt Jr. can make it by winning Daytona, of course, but I’m not sure there are many other avenues for him reaching the playoffs in his last season.
Dustin Long: Kasey Kahne will surprise some and pull out a win to earn a playoff spot.
Daniel McFadin: Driver: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Reason: Daytona.
If you were given the choice of taking Jimmie Johnson or the field to win at Dover this weekend, which would you take?
Nate Ryan: The field. It’s been two years since the last top five at Dover for Johnson, and he hasn’t finished on the lead lap there since his May 31, 2015 win, either. He probably hasn’t lost his edge, but the dominance has dissipated.
Dustin Long: The field. Could see Martin Truex Jr. winning.
Daniel McFadin: I’ll take the field because answering with Jimmie Johnson is frankly boring.