The No. 1 pick in the (fictional) NASCAR draft is....
The eyes of the sports world will be on Nashville, Tennessee, this weekend with the annual NFL Draft, with the first round getting underway Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET.
You can follow all of NBC Sports’ and Rotoworld’s draft coverage here.
With the draft in mind, the NASCAR on NBC writing staff has taken it upon ourselves to hold our own draft of NASCAR talent.
Each writer received five picks to put together a team. The parameters: Pick four active Cup drivers and one non-Cup driver for development.
months weeks a few days (hours?) of intense research and scouting combined with the knowledge of covering the sport for a living, here are the draft results. Let the second-guessing begin:
Dustin Long - Kyle Busch: He’s won 16 of the last 61 Cup races and doesn’t turn 34 until May. Who else are you going to select when you have the No 1 pick?
Daniel McFadin - Joey Logano: Basically Kyle Busch lite. The defending Cup champion, he’s in the midst of or on the verge of his prime at the age of 28. He’s good pretty much everywhere and a threat every week barring something unfortunate.
Nate Ryan - Brad Keselowski: As talented as the Team Penske driver is on the track, he is nearly as valuable in the shop as a leader who constantly pushes his teams conceptually.
Jerry Bonkowski - Kevin Harvick: While he’s struggled to reach victory lane this season, when it comes to clutch performances in his career, Harvick didn’t earn the nickname “The Closer” for nothing. Once he finally hits victory lane this season, look for many more visits to come.
Jerry Bonkowski - Jimmie Johnson: How can any draft not include a guy who is tied for the most career Cup championships with NASCAR legends Richard Petty and the late Dale Earnhardt? While he hasn’t won in his last 68 starts, many more wins are still to come.
Nate Ryan - Chase Elliott. Along with his championship-caliber ability, there is big sponsor upside for a star who virtually is guaranteed to be NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver as long as he is behind the wheel in Cup.
Daniel McFadin - Kurt Busch. Every four-car team needs a grizzled veteran. He’d be instrumental in getting the team’s equipment fine-tuned.
Dustin Long - Ryan Blaney: His time is coming. The 25-year-old should be a force in this sport for many years.
Dustin Long - Christopher Bell: Strong Xfinity career has expectations high for when he gets to Cup.
Daniel McFadin - Ross Chastain: A driver’s driver. He’s proven he can get in top equipment and be good right off the bat.
Nate Ryan - Denny Hamlin. He is nearing the prime age for a NASCAR driver and is beyond motivated to win his first Cup championship to cement an already Hall of Fame career.
Jerry Bonkowski - Martin Truex Jr.: Finally broke through with his first career short track win at Richmond. While there have been some growing pains since joining Joe Gibbs Racing this season, he’s on track to still be one of the favorites for this year’s championship.
Jerry Bonkowski - Tyler Reddick: Much like Christopher Bell, how much longer can Reddick be held back like a student in grade school? He needs to be in the Cup series in 2020. The problem is NASCAR’s numbers game. Who picks him? Who has room? RCR? RPM? CGR? RFR?
Nate Ryan - Kyle Larson. His stock has dropped slightly in a tough start to the 2019 season (perhaps related to adapting to the new rules), but his potential remains limitless.
Daniel McFadin - Erik Jones: Often seems like the forgotten member of the “Youth Movement,” but has lots of talent that’s waiting to get on a consistent winning run.
Dustin Long - Clint Bowyer: Can still wheel it and will make this a fun team!
Dustin Long - Chris Buescher: Keeping with the unintended theme of every driver’s last name starting with B, I present Mr. Buescher, a former Xfinity champ who is showing what he can do.
Daniel McFadin - Brett Moffitt: He’s young, he’s a veteran and he took a Truck Series team without top equipment and won a NASCAR title. But really, it’s the mustache.
Nate Ryan - Justin Haley. Proven winner in ARCA and Trucks. Showed at Daytona last July that he can win in Xfinity as well while mixing it up with Cup veterans.
Jerry Bonkowski - Ryan Newman: The “Rocket Man” is off to a good start with his new home, Roush Fenway Racing, particularly in his last two starts, both ninth-place finishes. I’m looking for even bigger and better things going forward, including at least one win this season (which would be his first win since 2017 and only his second win since 2013).