Our experts weigh in on four of the biggest questions in motorsports as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Dover International Speedway on Sunday for the final race of the first round of the playoffs:
Turn 1: Austin Dillon, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne are on the outside looking in to advance in the playoffs going into Dover. Do any of them race their way in and knock someone else out?
Ricky Craven, ESPN NASCAR analyst: No. The greatest risk would be that Ricky Stenhouse Jr. continues to overdrive his race car, flattens the right side and is eliminated in this round. That would open the door for Ryan Newman. Ricky is too good, and too experienced, to continue making the same mistake. I believe he has a good race -- no change in the standings.
Ryan McGee, ESPN.com: Ryan Newman has made a nice career out of moments like these, pulling that one win out of his hat when he needs it. But if anyone in this group has the numbers on his side, it's Kahne. But honestly, none of this matters because Martin Truex Jr. is going to romp.
Bob Pockrass, ESPN.com: Austin Dillon, who has the experience of being in this position in the past, races his way in, knocking out Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Matt Willis, ESPN Stats & Information: I can see Ryan Newman doing Ryan Newman things, which is just enough to get in, as he's only a point back of 12th going into the race (Austin Dillon is no points back, but I think Newman passes him, too). Although Jamie McMurray has been eliminated in the Round of 16 each of the last two years, I think it's Ricky Stenhouse Jr. who gets knocked out. The House hasn't finished better than 14th since his Daytona win. Meanwhile, Newman has been sneaky good, with four top-10s and a 9.3 average finish in the last six races.
Turn 2: Winning drivers may be making their cars more difficult to inspect by tearing them up in postrace celebrations. Does NASCAR need to regulate them?
Craven: Yes, NASCAR should either eliminate postrace inspection or eliminate the chassis-altering doughnut celebration where drivers are using the apron of the racetrack and even sometimes the SAFER barrier to ratchet their cars back to within tolerance. It's a perception thing. How can you measure these cars in the thousandths of an inch and then allow drivers to blow the rear tires off them moments before they're inspected?
McGee: I've never been more bummed to answer yes. This practice of covering one's tracks via blowout celebration has been around a long time. It won't go away on its own. So, congrats, guys, you're going to spell the end of what's always been a fan favorite moment. "Polish Victory Laps" (made famous by the late, great Alan Kulwicki) are only so great. That's all anyone's going to be able to do!
Pockrass: Nah. If NASCAR has questions, it should just take that winning driver's car the next several weeks that it doesn't win and the driver doesn't have the opportunity to tear it up.
Willis: I understand why they would, but I find myself missing drivers jumping on their roof after races, and I'll miss burnouts and doughnuts as well. Hey, want to even out the competition? How about this idea? It's mandatory to destroy your car after races. Get those strong cars off the track, and who wouldn't want to see a little Demolition Derby after the races?
Turn 3: Tyler Reddick won the Xfinity Series playoff opener. Which young driver isn't getting enough buzz as the driver of the future?
Craven: Cole Custer. I watch very carefully how a driver manages themselves in traffic, on new tires vs. old tires, and in particular I watch how often they put themselves in bad positions. I think people forget how young this driver is, yet I've seen more progress from him than any other driver in what I just described. William Byron is my top prospect, but Cole is closing the gap.
McGee: Brendan Gaughan. Just kidding. I don't think people outside the garage know who Brennan Poole is. Yet there he sits, punching out top-10s every week. I spent a lot of time at Chip Ganassi Racing midsummer and they love him. When it comes to identifying young talent, Ganassi's batting average certainly isn't perfect. But it's high enough for me to keep from doubting him.
Pockrass: Chase Briscoe. He hasn't won in a truck this year driving for Brad Keselowski Racing, but he is young and he appears to have raw talent.
Willis: I really want to see Tyler Reddick in a full-time Xfinity Series ride, and I think Christopher Bell is going to sneak up on a lot of people. I'll split my vote. Cole Custer has led more than 40 laps in the last two races after leading 29 laps the entire season until then. He's 19 and in line for a Stewart-Haas ride down the line. But get yourself ready for Todd Gilliland, whose 17 and has won 12 of the 25 K&N Pro Series West races over the last two seasons.
Turn 4: Who are you taking to win the Cup Series title: Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. or the field?
Craven: My heart says Martin, my brain says Kyle. In the end, having won a title before will be the difference late in the race at Homestead.
McGee: I've been on the Truex train all season (see: my answer to Turn 1), so I ain't jumping off now!
Pockrass: The field. Kyle Larson runs great at Homestead and if he gets there, he has as good a shot to win as anyone.
Willis: Can you handle the Truex? Martin Truex Jr. is my pick because of how well the 1.5-mile track schedule sets up for him. He's averaging 109 laps led a race in seven races on those tracks this year, 40 more than any other driver. His average finish in those races is an unreal 3.3. There's four more 1.5-mile track races in the final seven races of the year, including the finale at Homestead, where Truex excelled even before his studly last couple years, with seven top-10 finishes in 12 career starts.