The first five races of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season have produced five different winning drivers and five different winning teams.
We’ll find out Sunday if we have a sixth new winner, as NASCAR takes to Martinsville Speedway for the STP 500 and the first short-track race of the season. Coverage begins on FS1 at 12:30 p.m. ET Sunday.
With 21 races left in the NASCAR regular season, I’m going to predict that we’ll end up with 15 different drivers who will win races and punch their respective tickets into the playoffs.
That means 10 new winners in the next 21 races. Here’s who I expect to see win between now and the time the playoffs start. The higher the ranking, the stronger the likelihood that that driver wins.
Getty Images Sean Gardner
Possibly the best driver in the history of NASCAR driving for Hendrick Motorsports, the best team of the contemporary era. The question isn’t “Will he win?” or “How soon will he win?” The correct question is “How many will he win?”
Harvick is a proven champion with a great crew chief in Rodney Childers and a top team in Stewart-Haas Racing. He’ll get to Victory Lane, probably soon and/or often.
Pretty much the same scenario as for Kevin Harvick: Championship-winning driver, crew chief and team means Busch will win, likely more than once.
Since joining Team Penske, Logano has raised his game to the point where he is one of the sport’s elite drivers. Logano has finished sixth or better four times in five races this year.
It seems like we say this every race, but Elliott is running so well week in and week out that he’s bound to win soon. And when he does, he could win a lot.
USA Today Images
Eight of Hamlin’s 29 career Cup victories have come at Martinsville and Richmond, where NASCAR will race three times before the playoffs start.
While it’s true that Earnhardt hasn’t finished better than 14th so far this year, he and the team can still come around, especially with a couple of restrictor-plate tracks left on the schedule.
, LAT Images www.latphoto.co.uk Rusty Jarrett
It’s amazing the things a good driver can do when he leaves a bad team and joins a good one. Bowyer and Stewart-Haas Racing are an excellent fit.
Already Blaney has come close, finishing second to Kurt Busch in the Daytona 500. He’s been fast all year and the Wood Brothers have gotten better since last year.
© Russell LaBounty/LAT Photo USA Russell LaBounty
It’s been an awful year for Kenseth so far, but he’s a past champion with a top team. His luck has to improve sooner or later.
© Russell LaBounty/LAT Images www.latphoto.co.uk Russell LaBounty
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