Bump & Run: Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch or the field at Chicago?
Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch have combined to win all five of the races on 1.5-mile tracks this season. So who would you take this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway, a 1.5-mile track: Harvick and Busch or the field?
Nate Ryan: Given that both also won at Chicagoland Speedway during the last stretch (2001-10) that this race was held in July, Busch and Harvick are the better bet.
Dustin Long: I’ll take the field. Someone has to stop Harvick and Busch at Chicago, right?
Daniel McFadin: The field. And by the field, I mean Martin Truex Jr. He finished second in the last two races at 1.5-mile tracks in Kansas and Charlotte right before winning at Pocono. Momentum is on his side.
Dan Beaver: Dating back to last fall’s Texas race, Harvick has four wins, a second, and a fourth in seven races on 1.5-mile tracks. The only time he failed to finish that well was because of his blown tire at Charlotte. Go ahead and put the winner’s sticker on his car before the race begins.
Who wins first this year in Cup: Hendrick Motorsports or Chip Ganassi Racing?
Nate Ryan: Chip Ganaasi Racing, though the gap is closing. Kyle Larson still has the best chance of a breakthrough, but Chase Elliott and Jimmie Johnson are making gains, and they both have been good lately at Chicagoland Speedway. It still feels like Hendrick won’t make its leap until the playoffs (which has been its modus operandi the past couple of years).
Dustin Long: For all the progress Hendrick Motorsports has made, it’s still hard to think one of its cars will win before Kyle Larson does for Chip Ganassi Racing.
Daniel McFadin: My gut tells me Hendrick has a good chance to get the win in two weeks at Daytona, either with Chase Elliott or Alex Bowman. I’m waiting to see Kyle Larson produce more clean races like at Pocono. A win seems less likely for him until then. Jamie McMurray is always someone to look out for at restrictor-plate races, but he hasn’t placed better than 14th in the last nine visits to Daytona.
Dan Beaver: The question seems to boil down to whether Kyle Larson or Chase Elliott will win first. Since he has already found his way to Victory Lane and knows how to run a complete race, the nod has to go to Larson and Ganassi.
What are the odds that the Championship 4 at Miami will have Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr.?
Nate Ryan: It could be close to 50-50 at this rate by the end of the regular season. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either: Playoff points are intended to justifiably reward regular-season performance.
Dustin Long: About 60 percent that those three make it to the championship race in Miami Percentage goes up if they keep winning and collecting playoff points to insulate themselves from any issues in the postseason.
Daniel McFadin: Always in motion the future is, but it’s almost impossible for me to picture the Championship 4 without them. No one else seems to be able to mount a charge against them now. I’d put the odds at 80 percent.
Dan Beaver: 90%. They are going to continue to win races and rack up bonus points. It is unlikely that anyone else is going to emerge that is in the same ballpark, so the remainder of the field is going to have minimal bonus points. Harvick and Busch should cruise into the finale. It would take a couple of catastrophes in one round to eliminate Truex – but we’ve seen over and again that anything can happen in NASCAR.