Matt Kenseth makes his season debut in the No. 6 car this weekend at Kansas Speedway. He’ll run a partial schedule this year, sharing the ride with Trevor Bayne. What are your expectations for Kenseth in the No. 6 car?
Parker Kligerman: I expect him to be roughly in line with the performance of the 17 car. I believe Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has been driving at a very high level and extracting everything he can from those RFR cars. So Matt should be at that same level immediately.
Dustin Long: I expect better performances than the No. 6 team has had lately. I expect to see the car show the ability to finish in the top 15 and then top 10, but I believe Kenseth will need some time to help steer the team in the right direction.
Nate Ryan: He told us Tuesday that he could finish “fifth or 25th” at Kansas, and the smart money probably says somewhere in between, at least at the outset. As Parker notes, Kenseth should match Stenhouse’s results, and by the second half of the season, he could elevate the team’s performance to a new level.
Daniel McFadin: I expect Kenseth to have a noticeable impact, but it will take a few races. He’ll be consistently in the top 15 by season’s end. Bayne has an average finish of 24.7, so there’s not much Kenseth can do but improve.
Parker Kligerman: Oh man, I’m terrible at these types of predictions lately, but I’m going to say that they will combine for 12 wins in the season.
Dustin Long: I think they’ll combine to win six of the remaining 25 races (24 percent), giving them 13 wins for the season.
Nate Ryan: Let’s make it 18, an even half for the 2018 season.
Daniel McFadin: I think Harvick can get to 10 wins if some of the expected heavy hitters don’t catch up soon enough. Busch will likely peak with seven wins.
Who is a driver outside a playoff spot at this point that you’re keeping an eye on?
Parker Kligerman: Ricky Stenhouse, I believe, will be a thorn in the side of Hendrick Motorsports drivers through the summer months unless they win races because he will be constantly pushing them on that bubble spot of the playoffs. I feel Daniel Suarez will be in a similar situation but could win a race soon.
Dustin Long: I want to see what Paul Menard and the Wood Brothers do. Fords are fast. The Woods are aligned with Team Penske. That’s a combination that can get them to the playoffs. It’s just a matter of doing it.
Nate Ryan: If there are positions to be claimed on points — and it seems there will be — it’s hard to count out Ryan Newman.
Daniel McFadin: I want to say Ricky Stenhouse Jr., but unfortunately he can’t race at Bristol, Talladega and Dover every week. I’m going to go with Daniel Suarez. With two top 10s and a top five in the last three races he appears to be finally settling into a groove.