Who do you see as the favorite to win the Cup title, and who do you see as their biggest potential threat?
Nate Ryan: Kevin Harvick is the favorite, and it seems as if anyone driving a Ford would be his biggest threat, so Joey Logano trumps the remainder of the (formerly?) Big Three. If they advance to Miami, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. will have to prove their championship mettle.
Dustin Long: Kevin Harvick is the favorite. He’s ranked No. 1 in green-flag speed in the three playoff races on 1.5-mile tracks and it’s hard to think that speed will drop in Miami at that 1.5-mile track. Biggest threat: Themselves. If Harvick and his team don’t make mistakes, this is their championship.
Daniel McFadin: Kevin Harvick is the favorite and as of now Joey Logano will be his biggest threat given how the rest of the title favorites have been racing.
Dan Beaver: Given the current state of points and most likely drivers to contend for the championship, I have to say Harvick. If Chase Elliott makes it into the championship 4, however, he has been my pick since the start to the playoffs.
What impact will relocating the start/finish line at Phoenix make there this weekend?
Nate Ryan: Probably minimal unless there’s an opportunity for a playoff driver in a must-win situation and running second to cut the dogleg on the last lap.
Dustin Long: More than people think. I’ll go with what Aric Almirola said about how he sees the change impacting the racing: “I would imagine that we will cross the start-finish line and be nine-wide going though the dogleg and then try to figure out how to get back to two-wide by the time we get to the new Turn 1.”
Daniel McFadin: Phoenix will probably have the most interesting restarts on the circuit starting this weekend. I’m hoping for a possible overtime restart to really see how drivers approach it.
Dan Beaver: Minimal. There will be some improved optics as drivers are now able to fan out, but the racing will be pretty much unchanged.
Both Christopher Bell and Justin Allgaier have combined to win 11 of the 31 Xfintiy races this season but both are outside a transfer spot to Miami entering this weekend’s Xfinity race at Phoenix. Will they advance to the championship race? Will only one? Or will both fail to advance?
Nate Ryan: It seems as if one still could make it via a victory, and Bell seemed to be in a good frame of mind despite his crash at Texas.
Dustin Long: Both make it. Bell wins. Allgaier makes it on points.
Daniel McFadin: I think only one of them advances and it will be Allgaier by the smallest of points margins.
Dan Beaver: Bell makes it in on the strength of a top five or a win. Allgaier finishes well, but will not earn quite enough points.