War Room, Part Two: Picking a champion from the Round of 8

In part two of 'War Room' on 'NASCAR Race Hub' Adam Alexander, AJ Allmendinger, Andy Petree, Larry McReynolds, and Regan Smith make their picks for the final two rounds of the 2017 NASCAR Playoffs.

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- Halfway home in the playoffs in 2017. Once again we have gathered in the War Room to determine who will make it to Homestead-Miami Speedway. And ultimately, who will win the championship this season? Here to break it all down, America's crew Chief Larry McReynolds. Driver of the 47, AJ Allmendinger. Regan Smith is with us in the Playoff War Room. And Andy Petree is here to offer his selections on what will happen in the Round of 8.

Here are the eight that remain. Martin Truex Jr, Kyle Busch, Brad Keslowski, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, and Chase Elliott. So, I want to remind you how things landed when we were in this room six weeks ago.

- Do you have to?

- Yes, I do. You said it would be--

- I knew this was going to come up.

- --at Homestead, Martin Truex Jr--

- Check.

ADAM ALEXANDER: Kyle Busch.

- Check.

- Kyle Larson.

- Uh-oh.

- Yeah, that's a problem.

LARRY MCREYNOLDS: Little hiccup.

- And Kevin Harvick. Three of the four are still alive. I think we'd all agree the biggest surprise eliminated prior to the Round of 8 is Kyle Larson.

- To make matters worse, we didn't just have him going through to the-- to the final in Homestead-Miami, we had him winning the whole thing. And he's obviously not going to do that.

- I think we felt like that the points-- the playoff points that he had was going to carry him. But he just-- he really had a rough round, too. But who would ever believe that a Hendrick engine would let go on him at Kansas and put him outside looking in now?

- But to blow up when he did before the first stage is even over? That pretty much just kills your chance to move on to the final round.

- Yeah, that threw this whole table upside down for me.

- Who's going to Homestead? Foolproof 78 going to be running for a championship in South Florida?

- He has almost a full race cushion. He's 52 points above the cut line, so he would actually have to have two bad races not to advance to Miami on the championship four.

- It's just nothing going to keep Martin Truex from being at Homestead and racing for a championship.

- Oh, and there is a mile and a half track in this Round of 8, too, by the way.

- He'll be going for his fifth consecutive win on a mile and a half when we get to Texas Motor Speedway. Martin Truex Jr we say will advance. Next in line, Kyle Busch. When you look at the seating, he's number two. How do we feel about driver 18?

- I mean, I still think Kyle Busch is going to be at Homestead. I think he's going to be one of the guys to contend for the championship. Kyle on that 18 team, they know what to do. He's bad fast no matter where he goes.

- Kyle Busch is the only car that has consistently and steadily been able to put that pressure that we talk about on that 78 car and to really give him a run for his money at any point this season. He's the only one to me out there.

- Six races into the playoffs in 2017, two drivers have combined to win five of those six races. We have both of them going to the championship four. Now our mission gets really, really difficult. I want to work my way around the room and everybody just give me a name. You don't have to make a case, just give me a name. If you were going to move the next one, Larry, who would it be?

- Right now, if I was filling my own bracket out and I didn't have anybody to help me, I would put Kevin Harvick over there in that championship--

- When have we ever helped you, by the way?

[LAUGHING]

- I need a lot of help.

ADAM ALEXANDER: Regan, what direction do you go?

- I mean, I really want to pick one that's already been picked. Because I think that Harvick pick is great. He's a guy when it comes to the playoffs that I think will find his way to Homestead.

- We can all agree Kevin Harvick? That's what I'm hearing. I'm hearing strong support for driver four.

- Don't I get to-- I have no--

But you agree with Harvick?

- No, no.

ADAM ALEXANDER: You don't. OK.

- We don't.

- Andy, you get your time. Who do you think will be at Homestead?

- I'm putting Jimmie Johnson in the final four.

- You're going Jimmie Johnson?

- Mark the tape.

- So you would pick Jimmie Johnson over Kevin Harvick?

- I am right now.

LARRY MCREYNOLDS: OK.

- Where would you go, AJ?

- If I'm having to bet my money, every time that they get to the round they seem like they get to the championship four. I'm going to go Jimmie Johnson.

ADAM ALEXANDER: We've got four unbelievable drivers that we have put on the big stage in the championship race. And now we have to say, who's going to hold the big trophy at the end of 2017? Each of you have a card with your champion's number on it. Larry, you're up first. Tell us who gets it done.

- Well, honestly, you could make a case for any of those four drivers when you look at what they've done this year, and when you look at their past history. But I can't discount that Homestead-Miami Speedway is a mile and a half racetrack. You want to look at Martin Truex Jr at the 78 car. We know it's been all about the mile and a halfs. I see him winning the championship. 78.

- Which direction are you going, AJ?

- When it comes to, as a race car driver, having the most confidence to me is the-- is the best thing you can have. That 78 team. But more importantly, Martin Truex Jr. He has that confidence. And because of that, I think he's going to be the champion.

- But confidence is a big part of it. But to create that confidence, you've got to be in a race car that's that much quicker than the field. And Martin Truex Jr is in that race car. He's that much quicker than the field, so he's our champion.

- Well, guys, I don't think there's anybody that can keep Martin Truex down this year. Doesn't matter where they go, doesn't matter what kind of track you mentioned. The mile and a halfs, but he's been good everywhere. Even on the road courses. Martin Truex Jr.

- It took us quite some time to determine who would actually get down to Homestead-Miami Speedway to compete for the championship. But once we got there, it took no time to determine who would in fact be the 2017 champion. You all agree it's Martin Truex Jr who will deliver for the first time on the big stage in South Florida.

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