Here are my picks for the 2017 NASCAR Cup playoffs (alphabetical order):
- Clint Bowyer
- Kurt Busch
- Kyle Busch
- Austin Dillon
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Chase Elliott
- Denny Hamlin
- Kevin Harvick
- Jimmie Johnson
- Kasey Kahne
- Matt Kenseth
- Brad Keselowski
- Kyle Larson
- Joey Logano
- Jamie McMurray
- Martin Truex Jr.
A few expanded predictions:
— Clint Bowyer will get back to his old competitive self after joining Stewart-Haas Racing. By September, any hiccups SHR has in the transition to Ford will be forgotten.
— Four Toyotas will make it, but rookies Erik Jones and Daniel Suarez will barely miss out because of a few late-race mistakes.
— All four Hendrick drivers will be in the playoff, including Kasey Kahne after his best season in several years. Dale Earnhardt Jr. will finish the regular season within the top 10 in points.
— Both Chip Ganassi Racing drivers will be in and Kyle Larson will win two times in the regular season.
— Austin Dillon will win his first Cup race by late August.
— Overall, Hendrick Motorsports will be the best team in the regular season (with Jimmie Johnson having the most wins), followed by Team Penske. Joe Gibbs Racing will experience a slight drop-off after two great years, just part of the usual cycle in racing.
— I hate leaving Ryan Blaney out, but I’m not a Blaney detractor. I picked him to make it last year, and it’s certainly possible he could have a great year.
— Joey Logano will win his first championship in 2017.