War Room Part Two: Picking the eight drivers that move on to the next round of the playoffs

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In part two of 'War Room' on 'NASCAR Race Hub' Adam Alexander, Larry McReynolds, Andy Petree, Casey Mears, and Michael Waltrip pick the eight drivers that they think will move on to round three of the playoffs.

[ELECTRONIC TONES] [ROCK BEAT PLAYING]

ADAM ALEXANDER: Gentlemen, three weeks has passed and we are back in the War Room, and we, like some of the drivers in Round 1, are licking our wounds because when we said in this room a few weeks ago, we were batting 500. We said that Bowman and Blaney would be eliminated, and as we now know, they have advanced, and we said the duo from Joe Gibbs Racing, Erik Jones and Denny Hamlin, would move on. They unfortunately have been eliminated. Jimmie Johnson also going home. The other driver missing out on the cut, Number 3, Austin Dillon.

Our mission here today to go from 12 to 8. It won't be easy because the Round 2 tracks are a little different than they've been in the past. Dover is there for the first time, Talladega in the middle, as we know, that's the big wild card. We wrap up the second round of the playoffs on the mile and a half at Kansas Speedway.

MICHAEL WALTRIP: It's playoff time, baby, and these drivers are just ratcheted up. A lot of intensity and a lot of action is gonna happen, not only in the next three, but as we work our way to Miami.

ADAM ALEXANDER: Can we go ahead and advance the big three as we have identified them so often in 2018?

MICHAEL WALTRIP: 100%.

LARRY MCREYNOLDS: The cushion they have built, it's gonna to be hard to knock them out even going from 12 to 8 in this round here.

ADAM ALEXANDER: Kyle Busch enters the second round of the playoffs 47 points above the cut line, it's plus 42 for Kevin Harvick, and Martin Truex, Jr. finds himself 30 points above the cut line. I next go to Brad Keselowski. As we all know, he ended the regular season, opened up the playoffs on a tear, that three-race win streak. How do we feel about the driver from Team Penske who was in the championship four a season ago?

ANDY PETREE: I'd say there's no way he's not gonna make the next round.

ADAM ALEXANDER: We now place Brad Keselowski into the round of 8.

MICHAEL WALTRIP: You know what I love, Adam? We're all agreeing so far.

[ALL LAUGHING]

- We're just moving people right over. What a nice atmosphere this is.

LARRY MCREYNOLDS: It's not-- it's not gonna stay that way, I don't think.

ADAM ALEXANDER: Anybody else that we say without a doubt is gonna be a part of that next step in the playoffs?

MICHAEL WALTRIP: I like this guy.

ADAM ALEXANDER: You're pointing to Logano.

MICHAEL WALTRIP: Yeah, I think Logano's got enough speed, obviously these are tracks he's always been strong at, Talladega in particular.

ANDY PETREE: Penske has found something recently. Their cars are faster everywhere we go. I have no problem putting Joey Logano in a round of 8.

CASEY MEARS: Logano's been very consistent and solid these last few races, and obviously a 2's been strong and the 12 has done well, but I think Joe has got a good shot at making the next round.

ADAM ALEXANDER: Let me bring up another name. Blaney wins the race on the Roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The guy that dominated that event is Kyle Larson.

LARRY MCREYNOLDS: I came here with a debate about Kyle Larson, but I think because of the speed they have, stage points, I'd be hard-pressed probably not to move him.

CASEY MEARS: I couldn't leave him out. I mean, the kid's fast every single week, he impresses everybody every single week whether he has good luck or bad luck. He has speed and he makes things happen. I can't leave Kyle Larson out of moving on.

MICHAEL WALTRIP: You know who's watching this show saying, wait, what about me. y'all?

[ALL LAUGHING]

We haven't even mentioned Clint Bowyer. He's got some good playoff points, he's been steady and solid.

LARRY MCREYNOLDS: Clint in the 14 car, they've kinda been like my heart rate when I was a crew chief, way down, way up, way-- it's just inconsistent.

ADAM ALEXANDER: Have not mentioned Aric Almirola. First year with that group he advances to the round of 12--

ANDY PETREE: I know that he's got the speed to do it but I-- he's still-- there's a lot of great drivers that he's gonna have to outrun three races to be able to go over here, and I just don't see him being able to do that.

ADAM ALEXANDER: Larry, you take Alex Bowman who comes in with zero playoff points.

LARRY MCREYNOLDS: He got in just by his fingernails hanging on. I just can't make a case, I'm sorry, for Alex Bowman advancing.

ADAM ALEXANDER: We're gonna go around the table and everybody tell me which driver you're gonna move on next. Just give me a name. Michael, who're you advancing?

MICHAEL WALTRIP: Ryan Blaney.

ADAM ALEXANDER: You say Ryan Blaney. What'll you have, Casey?

CASEY MEARS: I think it's gotta be the 41.

ADAM ALEXANDER: You say Kurt Bush.

ANDY PETREE: 41.

ADAM ALEXANDER: 41.

ANDY PETREE: I'm in that same camp. I like Kurt Busch.

LARRY MCREYNOLDS: Kurt Bush has been way faster and way more consistent than his teammate, Clint Bowyer.

ADAM ALEXANDER: That takes us to three drivers for one position. Clint Bowyer, Ryan Blaney, and Chase Elliott. When you look at these three tracks, Dover, Talladega, and Kansas, which driver is favored?

ANDY PETREE: I like Chase Elliott.

ADAM ALEXANDER: Casey, where do you land?

CASEY MEARS: I like Ryan Blaney.

MICHAEL WALTRIP: I like momentum, and certainly that's what Ryan Blaney has right at this moment after that huge win at Charlotte. I would move Blaney over.

ADAM ALEXANDER: Where do you go, Larry?

LARRY MCREYNOLDS: The consistency seems to be more with Chase Elliott and the speed seems to be there, even though, of those three drivers, he has the fewest amount of playoff points. I go with Chase Elliott.

ADAM ALEXANDER: You guys always do this to me. I like, what have you done for me lately?

MICHAEL WALTRIP: Mm.

ADAM ALEXANDER: I'm gonna move Chase Elliott to the round of 8.

MICHAEL WALTRIP: Clint just threw a beer at the TV, I can promise you. He's like, y'all don't know what you're talking about!

ADAM ALEXANDER: Moving on to the round of 8, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex, Jr., Brad Keselowski, Logano, Larson, Kurt Busch, and Chase Elliott. We will return in a few weeks to see what we got right, what we got wrong, and determine who will go to Miami and run for the championship.