NASCAR, 2018 NASCAR Schedule, Fantasy Picks, Race Tracks, and Predictions

Now comes the good stuff. He'll show the promise many have forecasted but will struggle at times and just miss the Chase. However, he is a vet that still knows his way around tracks so if RFR can just find some type of speed he could surprise, but my money isn't on that. Coach Gibbs knows how to sell a game plan to his players. Search form

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In hindsight, it feels like five or six different drivers had a shot at winning the Daytona So, the win was a bit of an anomaly. This time around, look for one of those runners-up to pull ahead. No one covers what is happening in our community better than we do. And with a digital subscription, you'll never miss a local story. This might be a bit of a dark-horse pick, considering how his season ended, but give me Kyle Larson. He should be motivated by his premature playoff exit, and he ran as well at Homestead as could have been imagined.

Rookie of the year: Winning a race would be a huge step in his first Cup season, but Byron has the talent to do the unlikely. Wallace will be more of a wild card.

William Byron takes over as the driver of the iconic 24 Chevy for Henhrick Motorsports. Rather, this is more about Elliott finally capitalizing on his potential.

His dad, Bill Elliott, was the same way early in his career Championship four at Homestead: Given how dominant both Martin Truex Jr. As for Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski, as good as they are, their championship appearances were less set in stone and thus less likely to be repeated. Let me have Larson and Johnson, though.

Larson was on track to make it to Homestead before his engine troubles in the playoffs, and I see his team correcting those issues in So why not Austin Dillon? Three of his past four races at Daytona produced top finishes. Break winless streak in points races on restrictor-plate tracks. It's been a good week for Dale Earnhardt Jr. I could easily see him winning Daytona title No. All four Gibbs drivers for sure. Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Greg Biffle will need a huge year to make the Chase.

If any Roush driver gets in, it might be Trevor Bayne. Austin Dillon will represent the Childress team, but don't count out consistent Ryan Newman. The field will include Martin Truex Jr. The rest of the field is a pick 'em. Jamie Little, Fox Sports: Eliott and the Daytona conspiracy theory.

Andrew Doud, Fox Sports: Best Cup championship battles. Adam Alexander, Fox Sports: Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Alan Cavanna, Fox Sports: Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnahrdt Jr. The usual suspects, with three exceptions: Larson and Dillon make it for the first time, as does rookie Chase Elliott. Veteran Greg Biffle also bounces back to either win a race or make it on points.

Chase Elliott will win at least one race to get into the Chase. That's how many races Jeff Gordon won with the same pit crew, crew chief, etc. And he nearly won a Sprint Cup title. Don't expect that from Chase … at least not this year. It will be a "don't blink or you'll miss it" type of competition.

I see it neck-and-neck until Homestead. It's too close to call, but I can't wait to watch it play out. Hendrick drivers mentoring Elliott Blaney is poised to succeed. This one is a no-brainer. No rookie has better equipment and a better opportunity. My heart wants to go with Ryan Blaney, but my head says Chase Elliott.

Tough to bet against that No. Five young drivers to watch Three on the cusp Daniel Suarez's potential. Chase Elliott will get a lot of the votes and probably win the award, but Blaney will have the better season.

He has more experience with 16 Cup races last season for the Wood Brothers Chris Buescher is going to be good. Ryan Blaney is a rookie with upside, and his Wood Brothers cars should be better than Buescher's rides with Front Row.

It's tempting to pick Chase Elliott, because he gets the big assist from the Hendrick stable. Pick Blaney in a close race. He'll be overwhelmed some weeks but in others, he'll hold his own. Meet 's Sprint Cup teams Top 16 for Four drivers with championship ability and, thanks to Kyle Busch last season, the experience and knowledge of what it takes to win.

Coach Gibbs knows how to sell a game plan to his players. Its four drivers were dominant with the low-downforce package last season. With that car set-up being used at all non-restrictor plate tracks this season, all four JGR drivers will make it into the Chase once again with a bevy of wins.

Four teams in the playoffs for the second consecutive season. Joe Gibbs Racing will be strong again, putting all four drivers in the Chase. Gibbs drivers will spread their double-digit victories around.

Hendrick will return to the top, winning the most races behind big years from both Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. I'm going out on a limb and pick Hendrick, too. Since I'm picking all four drivers to make the Chase and for Junior to win the , they'll have a good season. I don't expect him to win a race, but he will get five top-five finishes and 10 top finishes this season.

Not only does he win ROY honors, but he wins a race. Meaning Chase makes the Chase! Chase makes the Chase. Hopefully, that phrase doesn't get overused. We'll see similar to what we got with Jeff Gordon last season.

Mostly mid-teen average finishes with a handful of DNFs, and Elliott will be one of the last drivers into the Chase. Elliott has a bright future but the step to Cup from the Xfinity Series is difficult.