Fire up the scanners, it is time for Crew Chatter with Speedway Digest writers. This week we tackle Martinsville with the question, “Of the chase drivers who have been eliminated, who has the best chance of "spoiling the show" on the Round of 8?
It's really difficult to choose just one driver because everyone that is no longer in title contention will be looking to redeem themselves.
Who would have thought that Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr. would be eliminated this early. Those engine woes they both had were big hits to their championship hopes and also busted a lot of Chase grids. I do think that if anyone comes back and 'spoils' the next four weeks (can you believe there are only that many left?), it will be Truex Jr. I just think he went out too early because of rotten luck. That Furniture Row Racing team has shown what they are made of and they will come back.
I'm not counting Keselowski out either. If you got the chance to listen to his interview at Kansas after he wrecked, he has the mentality to put this behind him and move on to the next race. I feel like he will be gunning for them the rest of the season. He was on pace to win Talladega before engine issues and I be he comes back and wins at least one more race before the year is over. It will also be interesting to see if he helps out his teammate Joey Logano, who does have a berth into the 'Round of Eight'.
I don't know why but part of me thinks the race winner at Homestead could be a 'spoiler' and not one of the 'Championship Four'
If you really think about it, there are actually more drivers than you think are "hot" heading into the Round of 8 that are more than ready to spoil the party.
Austin Dillon has two straight top ten finishes, and if it weren't for a call to take two tires that backfired on him at Charlotte, that could be three.
Chase Elliott has been in contention for the win in almost every race so far in this Chase (no pun intended), and is in some of the best equipment in all of NASCAR.
Brad Keselowski has been one of the most consistent drivers all season. He top-fived his way to the Round of 12, and was a spin into the grass and blown engine away from possibly another Talladega win and a spot in the next round.
And finally, there's Martin Truex Jr. My championship pick, and a very popular one amongst NASCAR fans and drivers alike. Is it fair that the dominant team, driver and car for 30 races won't contend for the title due to bad luck? Probably not. But it is what it is, and you can bet the No. 78 Toyota will win some more races this season.
I believe that we will see the Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., and Brad Keselowski have the chance at winning races in the “Round of Eight”. Why? Keselowski and Truex would have advanced if it was not for engine issues last weekend at Talladega they would have advanced to this round. Both drivers were competitive all throughout the season, and I do not see that their competitiveness will not linger despite not cotending for a championship. With Elliott, he has been knocking at the door each and every week for a win. I would have to consider Austin Dillon as the very darkhorse to spoil this next round because he has been knocking on the door of a win, but barely missed this round. Dillon has been consistent all year, but will have to get a win soon.