The ‘NASCAR Race Hub’ War Room makes their preseason picks for the Championship 4

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War Room makes their preseason picks for the Championship 4

- Andy, you lead us off and tell us who you have going to Miami in 2018 and ultimately winning the champion.

- Well, when they dust this tape off and they dab at Mark, you'll see that my final four look pretty similar to last year, but I've got some Toyotas up here. Actually, we've got three of them.

- I see you got a lot of faith in that new hire up there, Richard Childress Racing.

[LAUGHING]

- I'm gonna do everything I can to make sure this is wrong when we do come back. But then we've got a Chevrolet. We've got Chase Elliott up here. And he ran really good at the end of the season.

All we have to go by is how they ran in '17, right? We don't know anything yet about how these guys are going to perform in '18. So based on that, and what I think these guys can do, this is my final four.

- And who's your champ?

- And my champ is Kyle Busch.

- Ah, yeah.

- Number two for him.

- I like it.

- He'll get his second championship.

SPEAKER 1: This will be his fourth consecutive trip.

- RS, Regan Smith, you're up next.

- Well, I do have a Ford driver in my championship four, and I think you're going to see Kevin Harvick be that guy. I agree with Andy on the other three picks right there, but it's so hard to take a guy like Kevin Harvick, keep him out of that championship race.

Martin Truex Jr., I've already said earlier I think he's going to win more races next year than what he did last year. Kyle Busch, hard to keep him down, and Chase Elliott, a breakout year in my eyes is going to be coming for him in 2018.

- Who wins it all?

- I'm gonna go with the Ford.

SPEAKER 1: Wow, second championship.

REGAN SMITH: Of Kevin Harvick. I'm gonna-- I'm gonna do that because I feel like that team has had an entire year to keep working on these cars. We saw at the end of 2017, they started picking things up just a little bit. He had that race at Texas where he took it to Truex, was able to go out there and pass him.

And Rodney Childers, when you give him enough time to work with the race car and to figure things out, he's always going to keep making it better. Even though they don't have a new body, I still feel like he's going to get it done.

- I loved that race at Texas. We thought we had it all figured out, didn't we? Truex is this.

- That was pretty amazing. He figured out how to beat him.

- Harvick said, wait a minute. I got a little bit more--

- You almost make me want to put him back on mine here. And I can't figure out where to put him.

- It's too late.

- Larry, the Crimson Tide, they're not eligible for this category, OK? So what do you got?

- Yeah, you know, I know you probably find this hard to believe coming out of my mouth, but I threw numbers away because, obviously, that has not worked very well for me--

- Are you feeling OK?

[LAUGHING]

- --when I look at the last few weeks.

- Exactly.

- --so--

- Are you OK?

- --what I did is, I'm certainly going to go with Martin Truex Jr. I just think the 48 team and Jimmy Johnson, I think they will be back this year. We better never take our eye off of Kevin Harvick. And I just think Kyle Larson, I think they're going to rebound from what happened to them at the end of round two and round three and I think that right there will be the championship four. I know it falls in the category of bold prediction almost, but I don't think Joe Gibbs has a Toyota driver in that championship four when go to Miami.

- You have two Chevys making it down there.

- I do have two Chevys.

- You must have some faith in that new Camaro. Who wins it all?

- Well, Andy agrees with me on this last year. Just get him to Homestead. Get him to Homestead. It's his type of a race track. I think you look at the race there in November, led over half the race. I think he kind of just backed out, let those boys go for that championship and I just think they had a little bit of a hangover after that engine failure at Kansas. And I just think that group will be back and they'll be back with a vengeance.

SPEAKER 2: I think it's crazy that we had three guys before the 48 was even in there, so.

- And two had the nine.

- But there is one pattern. 78, 78, 78.

- What do you want to bet that pattern continues?

[LAUGHING]

- I'm putting Martin Truex Jr. Into my championship four for sure, but--

- He had Matt Kenseth. Oh no, that's Eric Jones in the 20 this year.

MICHAEL: Yeah, I've got a couple of surprises, I think, in mine. We voiced a concern earlier, Regan, about Joey Logano, what would he be able to do in 2018. Eric Jones, I think he is going to be the story in 2018. Kevin Harvick is always a guy you got to bet on, but when they get to Miami, and it's all about winning that championship, I think Martin Truex goes back-to-back.

SPEAKER 1: It's pretty cool we've got four different champions there.

SPEAKER 2: I love that.

SPEAKER 1: Nobody repeated.

- But I'll tell you, that's a kind of a different final four, Michael.

- You know why I went that way, Andy? It's because it's so hard to look at numbers, like Larry McReynolds said and make a decision about what happens at Miami. Just think how close Denny Hamlin was to moving on. He and Chase Elliott started having some issues, an engine failure for Larson that you talked about.

I think it's just, you just take the drivers that you feel like are in the pool and then pick the ones that you feel good about. And I feel good about a rebound season for that guy and I feel really good about Eric Jones being a big story in 2018.

REGAN SMITH: And for that reason exactly, I think that's a good pick. He's a guy, Logano's the guy that a lot of us had as possibly the 2017 champion and it didn't work out quite that way, but that's why he is a question mark. He could either be in the championship or he could miss the playoffs altogether. You just don't know right now.

- How do you leave Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin, your buddy, out of the final four?

- That's his plane ride.

- Brad Keselowski-- Brad Keselowski is not in any of these either.

- Was his plane ride.

- You know?

- Here's what's interesting to me is the change in thought processing on manufacturer. Andy had three Toyotas, Larry had a couple of Chevrolets, and Michael goes with two Fords, making it down to Homestead Miami Speedway.