Cup Series Round of 8 Preview and Predictions

     In a season filled with so many twists and turns it is sadly winding down. Eight drivers remain in the hunt and half of the final four is a compelling battle between six drivers. Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin are essentially locked in on points, and the races in this round being at Kansas, Texas, and Martinsville really sets up well for them. Martinsville is the "wildcard" of the round, but even then the elite drivers there always rise to the top.

    Kansas actually sets up as the most compelling in my opinion, and here's why six different active playoff drivers have won here. Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick both have three wins at Kansas, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr., and Joey Logano all have two wins at Kansas, and Chase Elliott has one win at Kansas. Denny Hamlin has won two of the last three at Kansas including the race this July, and last seasons playoff race. I think Denny Hamlin is the favorite coming into this race, but Kevin Harvick's 9.6 average finish is the best in the field. 

    Texas I think is the most predictable race of the round. Once again Harvick, and Hamlin have three wins here. Kurt Busch, and Joey Logano have a win a piece here. Harvick is the favorite, even though Hamlin won at Texas in 2019, Harvick has won three consecutive fall Texas races, and all of those wins have come since the repave and reconfiguration after the 2016 season. Harvick's 10.2 average finish once again is the best of the playoff drivers. 

    Martinsville as the Round of 8 finale should be fascinating especially if Harvick, and Hamlin are both locked in. Denny Hamlin leads active playoff drivers with five wins, but hasn't won there since 2015. Martin Truex, Kurt Busch, and Brad Keselowski all have two wins at Martinville; while Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick both have one win at Martinsville. Denny Hamlin has the highest average finish at 9.9. Truex's recent dominance in Martinsville including back to back wins at the track makes him the favorite overall. 

    My official final four picks are Harvick, Hamlin, Truex Jr., and Keselowski. Hamlin, and Harvick get wins, but even if they didn't I expect them to get there on points. The round sets up very nicely for Truex to win at any of these three tracks, but I think Martinsville is where he could win and advance on his own. In a Round of 8 as competitive as ever Keselowski's small points advantage will lead him to the Championship Four.

Playoff Grid 

1. Harvick +45

2. Hamlin +32

3. Keselowksi +13

4. Elliott +5

5. Logano -5

6. Truex Jr. -10 

7. Bowman -18 

8. Ku. Busch -21