McReynolds Breaks Down Championship Picture as Teams Head to New Hampshire

CHARLOTTE, NC – The 2017 MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES Playoffs are in full swing, with teams headed to New Hampshire Motor Speedway this week for Sunday’s stop. FOX NASCAR offers live pre-race coverage with NASCAR RACEDAY, beginning at 11:30 AM ET on FS1.

Through the conclusion of the Playoffs, FOX NASCAR analysts take a weekly look at who’s hot, who’s not, how Jimmie Johnson’s quest for an eighth championship is looking and who is in danger of being eliminated at the conclusion of this round. Below are the thoughts of FOX NASCAR analyst Larry McReynolds on the championship picture this week.

Additionally, FS1 offers live coverage of the NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES Playoffs, with the championship run kicking off Saturday at New Hampshire on FS1 (1:00 PM ET with pre-race coverage at 12:30 PM ET). For the latest news and highlights throughout the week, tune in to NASCAR RACE HUB on FS1 (Monday-Thursday at 6:00 PM ET).

Larry McReynolds, FOX NASCAR analyst:

Look of a Champion:
“Mistakes were a huge difference maker for many of the playoff drivers at Chicagoland. The only one who had a fast enough race car to recover was race winner Martin Truex Jr. They proved they can have a fast car, make a mistake and still close the deal.”

Hot Wheels:
“Despite their penalty, Chase Elliott and the No. 24 team performed very well at Chicagoland and gained in the points. That finish did quite a bit toward their goal of moving into Round 2.”

Work to Do:
“Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was on NASCAR RACE HUB last week and convinced all of us his team was ready for the playoffs. It probably wasn’t of his making when he had the cut tire and hit the wall last weekend, but the commitment box violation was of his making. It just went downhill from there. Unfortunately, he won’t advance to Round 2.”

Fading Fast:
“At this point in the playoffs, I’m afraid Kasey Kahne, Austin Dillon, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Ryan Blaney will be the first four drivers eliminated at the conclusion of Round 1. They’re going to have to step it up significantly in order to advance to the next round.”

Chasing 8:
“I didn’t see anything impressive with the No. 48 team’s speed in the Chicagoland practice sessions. However, the positive thing he should take away is how well his Hendrick teammate, Chase Elliott, ran. I know everyone wants to say the No. 48 team is going to throw the ‘playoffs switch’ soon, but I don’t see it. Something is missing. I don’t see him making it to the Championship 4 round.”

Who to Watch at New Hampshire:
“I wouldn’t count out Martin Truex Jr. for also winning at New Hampshire because, in this round a year ago, he and his No. 78 team won two of the three races. Given the way they’re running, and the fact they have no weaknesses or weak tracks, I expect they will win three races in the playoffs. That’s a little conservative, but only because there are several hungry hounds out there who know they have to win.”

Inside Line: FOX NASCAR Weekly Playoff Notes & Quotes (299 kB, last updated September 2017)