What is a performance that has stood out to you so far this season?
Nate Ryan: Joey Logano. He quietly is tied for the series lead in top 10s (12) with Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch but ranks only 10th in laps led, which indicates he is maximizing his finishes.
Dustin Long: Kevin Harivck’s dominance. This reminds me of how strong Harvick was in 2014. The only difference is that in 2014 he lost the chance at a number of wins because of various issues from mechanical to pit road and such. Harvick and his team aren’t having those issues this season. Their ability to run mistake-free races week after week has been as impressive as the speed the No. 4 car has.
Daniel McFadin: Joey Logano. He’s third in points coming off his horrid season in 2017. He’s tied with Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch with 12 top 10s and he has a better average finish (8.1) than Harvick (9.3). He only has one win, but he should be in the conversation for being part of the “Big 4” this season.
Dan Beaver: Clint Bowyer’s performance at Martinsville – especially as it came on the heels of Martin Truex Jr.’s win at Auto Club. For a moment, it appeared the competitive landscape was going to open up.
What is something that has surprised you about this season?
Nate Ryan: The number of winners. It seems improbable that with 11 races to go, there are still 10 provisional playoff spots based on points. Based on how Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. have run this season, and their performances at the upcoming tracks, there is a real possibility that half the playoff field will be determined by points – which could make for some nail-biting storylines down the stretch and at the Brickyard.
Dustin Long: The dominance of the veteran drivers this season.
Daniel McFadin: Kyle Larson‘s inability to have consecutive clean races. His spin at Michigan came after similar spins at Phoenix and Charlotte, wrecks at Texas, Talladega, Daytona and Kansas and his spin from contact with Ryan Newman at Bristol. He bounced back to nearly win at Bristol, a seventh-place finish at Charlotte and a fourth at Kansas. Imagine the season Larson could be boasting if some of these incidents hadn’t occurred. He’s been the strongest Chevy driver all year, but he’s also been arguably the sloppiest.
Dan Beaver: The sheer domination of Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch. It is not only that they are winning so many races, but that no one else has been in the same league as them through 15 races.
Eleven more races remain until the playoffs begin. Give me one bold prediction about what might take place before then.
Nate Ryan: Despite going winless in the regular season, Hendrick Motorsports still qualifies three for the playoffs as Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman each earn berths via points.
Dustin Long: Two drivers currently outside the top 20 in points each win a race and make the playoffs.
Daniel McFadin: Alex Bowman and William Byron will win as Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott founder.
Dan Beaver: The inevitable leveling of the playing field. Chevrolet will catch up before the playoffs, but they are not going to have a dominant performer like Ford’s Harvick or Toyota’s Busch and that is going to spread the wealth around.