What a year it has been in the NASCAR Monster Energy Series. For one, a NASCAR star and arguably one of the most popular drivers in NASCAR History, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is calling for his career to come to an end. You also have Matt Kenseth who doesn’t have a team to drive for next season winning at Phoenix International Raceway just last week. If he doesn’t get a job before next season starts, he stated that he will be walking away from the sport for a while.
During this season, we were also able to see the young guns (young drivers) get their first wins of their career. Austin Dillon, Ryan Blaney, and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. all picked up their first career wins this season, which qualified them for the NASCAR Monster Energy Playoffs.
Chase Elliott is another young driver on the verge of his first win in 2017, yet he always seems to finish second. During the season, he has finished second over six times, including the race at Martinsville Speedway, where he got spun out by Denny Hamlin. In response, Elliott knocked Hamlin into a wall, cutting down one of his tires at Phoenix International Speedway. Lately, all of the NASCAR fans have named Chase Elliott “The People Champ.” He is believed to become most popular NASCAR driver once Dale Earnhardt Jr retires.
This is the fourth year of the NASCAR Chase Playoffs, and in the past three years, a former champion of the Chase Playoffs placed in the final race. This season, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, two past champions, both qualify for a spot to compete in the championship. Although Busch started the season off slow, he rallied to five wins; Thus, he was the first driver to earn a spot in the Championship 4 with a win at Martinsville International Speedway. Winning at Texas Motor Speedway, Kevin Harvick was the second driver to qualify for the Championship 4. Both drivers are looking to bring home their second championship.
On the other hand, no one has dominated this season more than Martin Truex, Jr. Before playoff season, he was the regular season champion, winning 19 stage races and seven races. To finish the season, Truex, Jr. is looking to win the championship.
Since the initiation of the NASCAR playoff, an underdog has found their way into the Championship 4. For this season, that underdog is Brad Keselowski, who only won two races early in the season and has not won since. He qualified for the Championship 4 based on points and there is a possibility that he wins his second NASCAR Championship.
Even though there are four drivers competing for the NASCAR Championship, there will be other drivers competing for the race win. At Homestead Miami, Kyle Larson is a favorite to win, just like he was a favorite to make the Championship 4. I also believe Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin will be favored to win the race. The last driver that can compete for the win is Dale Jr, making it his last victory before retirement.
This NASCAR race will be an interesting on Sunday afternoon. We will officially crown a new champion. I see the race being partially led by Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney before it comes down to Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin for the win. Ultimately, I see Chase Elliott finally winning his first race.
As for the championship, it will come down to Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski. In my opinion, Kevin Harvick will win the championship with Brad Keselowski finishing second, followed by Martin Truex, Jr. Kyle Busch will finish fourth due to problems early in the race.