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Alan Cavanna sits down with the Champ
NASCAR.com's Alan Cavanna sat down on Monday with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Kevin Harvick to recap his championship run, his bond with crew chief Rodney Childers and celebrating a title with his family.
Cavanna updates testing and MWR changes
Alan Cavanna brings you up to speed with the latest from the Charlotte testing session and the changes at Michael Waltrip Racing.
Labonte, Cavanna break down Richmond
Bobby Labonte and Alan Cavanna teardown the top stories, including the fight, from Richmond and look ahead to the weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.
Alan Cavanna headlines FOX all-star lineup
Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski also aboard
Junebug gets feisty with Junior, more tweets
Editor's note: Every Friday, "Tweets You Might Have Missed" will present eight of the best NASCAR-related tweets from the week. 1. Chillin to some @Alanis with Junebug. It was all good till last beer. pic.twitter.com/WWCC0Rr6Jy — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) May 24, 2016 2. How about that #CoorsLightPole , @MartinTruex_Jr ?! #CocaCola600 #FurnitureRow pic.twitter.com/eY7LTyiQwF — Furniture Row Racing (@FR78Racing) May 27, 2016 3. Even Jack go into the fun at #RFRFanDay pic.twitter.com/QRyT23LAe0 — Roush Fenway Racing (@roushfenway) May 26, 2016 4. How do you celebrate getting into the @NASCARHall ? Take a cruise in your sweet convertible. Congrats, Mr. H pic.twitter.com/ST1czuSrFZ — Alan Cavanna (@CopaCavanna) May 26, 2016 5. Had the privilege to take Mr. Edsel Ford on a drive this morning in my 1924 Model T to kick off #CocaCola600 weekend pic.twitter.com/Htc5jrDvDm — Joey Logano (@joeylogano) May 27, 2016 6. Good time at @TeamJJF this morning for the 5k great to see so many people and everyone taking the wellness challenge pic.twitter.com/udSpSZ3spr — Ben Kennedy (@BenKennedy33) May 22, 2016 7. Taking some lessons today thanks to @mcboatcompany @cltskiboats & @ArodCltski This going to be a sweet summer! pic.twitter.com/aRBpVSSX3a — Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) May 24, 2016 8. . @RedNoseDayUS is tomorrow? Hope you have your #RedNose ! Tanner has his! pic.twitter.com/5qLmobv3yJ — KaseyKahneFoundation (@KaseyKahneFndn) May 25, 2016
Gordon headlines FOX's NASCAR roster for 2016
RELATED: Gordon to join FOX's NASCAR coverage in 2016 With just one race remaining until the season's end, FOX Sports has announced its broadcaster lineup for 2016, which is highlighted by the previous addition of Jeff Gordon as an analyst for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Gordon, who is competing for his fifth Sprint Cup Series championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway this weekend before ending his career as a full-time driver, will join play-by-play announcer Mike Joy and analyst Darrell Waltrip. Joy and Waltrip have been in the booth together for 15 years. Former crew chief Larry McReynolds will remain part of the network's coverage providing in-race analysis. Reporters Jamie Little, Chris Neville, Vince Welch and Matt Yocum will handle pit road duty for the FOX Sports' 16 Sprint Cup telecasts. FOX will televise 10 races, while FS1 will televise six. Welch will also serve as the new full-time play-by-play announcer for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series after being a part of a rotation for this role in 2015. Welch has been a FOX pit reporter for the Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series races in 2015, and has served in a similar capacity for ABC Sports and ESPN. Analysts Michael Waltrip and Phil Parsons will flank Welch in the booth. Hermie Sadler , Kaitlyn Vincie and Yocum will handle pit road reporting in that series. FS1 is broadcasting 22 of the 23 Truck races and FOX has the October race at Talladega. The network also announced Adam Alexander and Michael Waltrip will continue to team together for the FOX Sports' portion of the XFINITY Series schedule, along with a rotation of drivers from the Sprint Cup Series. Neville, Sadler, Little, Welch and Yocum will alternate to cover pit road for this series. NASCAR RaceDay, FS1's prerace show for Sprint Cup races, will return with Chris Myers, Danielle Trotta and John Roberts sharing the hosting duties. Analysts Kenny Wallace , Jeff Hammond and Wally Dallenbach as well as reporters Alan Cavanna , Andrew Doud and Vincie. Trotta will host NASCAR RaceDay- XFINITY with McReynolds and Wallace as analysts while Roberts will host NCWTS SetUp with two-time series champion Todd Bodine providing insight and features reports from Ray Dunlap. NASCAR Race Hub will air live at 6 p.m. ET every Monday through Thursday on FS1 with Alexander, Trotta and Roberts co-hosting the hour-long program. McReynolds, Hammond and Dallenbach will serve as analysts as will a rotation of active drivers and crew chiefs. Cavanna , Doud and Vincie will have daily reports from around the circuit, while Dunlap will have Truck Series feature reports and analysis. There will be a weekend edition of the program on Friday and Saturday with at-track updates as well as NASCAR Victory Lane to recap each Sprint Cup Series race.
Live blog: Charlotte Media Tour
RELATED: Full Charlotte Media Tour schedule " Fast facts: All changes coming in 2016 The 2016 NASCAR season is upon us. Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour is here, kicking off with Toyota Tuesday. Be sure to follow along by tuning into today's press conferences . NASCAR.com will also be keeping a live blog covering all the Media Tour news. So, check back right here for periodic updates throughout the day. 5 p.m. ET FOX Sports NASCAR announcers on stage. We see you, "Four-time". Here are your @NASCARONFOX announcers. pic.twitter.com/yS0kqImlKg — Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) January 19, 2016 4:15 p.m. ET Next up at Charlotte Media Day is FOX Sports at 5 p.m. ET. " Watch here 3:35 p.m. ET Take a look at Martin Truex Jr .'s 2016 ride. New look for @MartinTruex_Jr in 2016 @BassProShops @FR78Racing pic.twitter.com/nq0tcdNIZd — Alan Cavanna (@CopaCavanna) January 19, 2016 3:22 p.m. ET Furniture Row Racing announces its deal with Bass Pro Shops for 2016 " READ: Furniture Row lands Bass Pro sponsorship "It's good to have Bass Pro in my car again." - @MartinTruex_Jr #CMSmediatour #NASCAR #Bass … https://t.co/BRPSMjyMky pic.twitter.com/6MfQ6VyDDf — Furniture Row Racing (@FR78Racing) January 19, 2016 3:16 p.m. ET Furniture Row Racing takes the stage. Now it's @FR78Racing 's turn to take the stage at #MediaTour pic.twitter.com/3PNCjmuIOB — Kaitlyn Vincie (@kaitlynvincie) January 19, 2016 1:59 p.m. ET Check out a Periscope stream of Joe Gibbs Racing 's break-out sessions here . Next up is Furniture Row Racing at 3:15 p.m. ET. " Watch here 1:50 p.m. ET Joe Gibbs Racing shares a cool photo of its drivers from 25 years ago, when the racing team orginiated. Pretty cool, @JoeGibbsRacing . #NASCAR #CMSMediaTour pic.twitter.com/9P6VoPGCQx — Pat DeCola (@Pat_DeCola) January 19, 2016 1:31 p.m. ET First up on #ToyotaTuesday ? @JoeGibbsRacing ! LIVE: https://t.co/txKyAV9iLL pic.twitter.com/0zhQnCYU1e — NASCAR (@NASCAR) January 19, 2016 12:28 p.m. ET Stay tuned -- Joe Gibbs Racing coming up at 1:30 p.m. ET. " Watch here 12:01 p.m. ET Renovations coming for two of NASCAR's most unique tracks. Less France Kennedy says they are looking next at @RIRInsider & @PhoenixRaceway for renovations in the future. — Kaitlyn Vincie (@kaitlynvincie) January 19, 2016 11:55 a.m ET Full details on the new Caution Clock here. 11:52 a.m. ET Now, this ... this is exciting. More big #NASCAR news for @NASCAR_Trucks #CountdownClock pic.twitter.com/HcBKbyYM91 — Ray M. Smith (@RayMSmith) January 19, 2016 11:40 a.m. ET Cut to The Chase. Hey, that's pretty good. #NASCAR layout of the Chase format for all three series for 2016 - can't wait! pic.twitter.com/u4F9qY4uoz — Mike Zizzo (@Ziz007) January 19, 2016 11:25 a.m. ET Safety first. France says SAFER barriers will ever "wherever they need to be". No clear timetable given, but France says it's the tracks working on it — Alan Cavanna (@CopaCavanna) January 19, 2016 11:22 a.m. ET Major news. XFINITY Series and Camping World Truck Series shifting to Chase elimination format for 2016. Full details here " Watch: NXS, NCWTC get Chase format 11:15 a.m. ET Can't. Wait. NASCAR expanding Chase format into Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series! — Holly Cain (@_HollyCain) January 19, 2016 11:10 a.m. ET And all signs point to 2016 being even more exciting. "Without question 2015 was one of our most exciting seasons ever...We had a lot of great things happen in the Chase." - Brian France — Kaitlyn Vincie (@kaitlynvincie) January 19, 2016 11:05 a.m. ET First look at your 2016 XFINITY Series championship winning team? The season has officially started! pic.twitter.com/nuUpg7jTTC — Daniel Suárez (@dnlsuarez) January 19, 2016 11:02 a.m. ET Green flag on Charlotte Media Tour. It's time for the #NASCAR press conference to kick off the Charlotte Media Tour! Watch it: https://t.co/txKyAVqTDj pic.twitter.com/59VgWNc2wZ — NASCAR (@NASCAR) January 19, 2016 10:58 a.m. ET Gotta stay fresh. Making sure @mattkenseth 's @DGRacing firesuit looks great for his 2016 portrait! #ToyotaTuesday #CMSMediaTour pic.twitter.com/uN5TqqsYGC — Toyota Racing (@ToyotaRacing) January 19, 2016 10:50 a.m. ET Who's ready? We're ready. Let's do this thing. #CMSMediaTour https://t.co/3UcZ1AMDCw — NASCAR (@NASCAR) January 19, 2016 10:41 a.m. ET Gotta be one of the coolest paint scheme promotions we've seen in the past few years. #HeroFaceOff Glad to know I have the Caped Crusader in my corner for the #HeroFaceOff pic.twitter.com/1ZnfBoDAmj — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) January 19, 2016 Looking forward to running a Batman car for #HeroFaceOff . That worked out well for us last time. — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) January 19, 2016 10:30 a.m. ET It's not even lunchtime yet. Get it together, 'casm. #NASCAR #MediaTour pic.twitter.com/IDbPl7snP7 — nascarcasm (@nascarcasm) January 19, 2016 10:23 a.m. ET Ah, picture day. Hope Mom remembered to pack a comb in everybody's backpacks. #CarlEdwards is in the house! @ARRIS Racing getting ready for the season. #NASCAR (Even more on joegibbsracing) pic.twitter.com/jJTo4Klnl4 — Joe Gibbs Racing (@JoeGibbsRacing) January 19, 2016 10:17 a.m. ET Hendrick Motorsports announced some pretty cool paint schemes for Dale Earnhardt Jr . and Jimmie Johnson before the festivities even got underway. Check 'em out. Coming March 20, 2016. #HeroFaceOff @TeamHendrick @JimmieJohnson @DaleJr @LowesRacing #AutoClub400 pic.twitter.com/BTVenzSPLg — Auto Club Speedway (@ACSupdates) January 19, 2016 Exclusive: @DaleJr and @JimmieJohnson pick sides in @BatmanvSuperman duel: https://t.co/uIRTOCaLEJ #HEROFACEOFF pic.twitter.com/vGqpyTdDLs — Entertainment Weekly (@EW) January 19, 2016 Well I sure hope it's faster than a speeding bullet #HeroFaceOff @LowesRacing @TeamHendrick pic.twitter.com/17LeodUQB6 — Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) January 19, 2016 10:15 a.m. ET Kicking us off with a few links courtesy of @NASCAR to get you in the Charlotte Media Tour mood. Stay tuned for more. Tomorrow marks the start of Charlotte Media Tour. Let's take a look back: https://t.co/5cO8LZGySD pic.twitter.com/WEyWi0CSPa — NASCAR (@NASCAR) January 18, 2016 Don't miss a thing from the Charlotte Media Tour. We've got the full schedule: https://t.co/krIeGiOMNY pic.twitter.com/QV8bIMMqdt — NASCAR (@NASCAR) January 19, 2016 It's #ToyotaTuesday ! Plus, we have our own presser today. Catch 'em all: https://t.co/krIeGj6nFw pic.twitter.com/UlQ6kyRZIm — NASCAR (@NASCAR) January 19, 2016
Roundtable: Forecasting who will take the title
Panel of experts debates the hot topics in NASCAR RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota 1. After 35 races, nine Chase battles and three rounds of elimination, we're down to just four drivers battling it out for the championship. Gentlemen, in the succinct words of Mr. Albert, "Who ya' got?" Zack Albert: Without trying to overthink, I'm going with Kevin Harvick just based on how solid his team's performance has been, everywhere they've unloaded. Alan Cavanna : I'm sticking with my pick from the NASCAR.com Preview Show . Joey Logano is winning the championship on Sunday. Kenny Bruce: If I were wagering, and just for the record I'm not (yet), I'd go against Kevin Harvick , the favorite of most folks, simply because I like to bet the upsets. I'd go with Ryan Newman , who said Wednesday that it's not a big deal, he only has to beat three other guys right? Who also happen to be among the best in the series. The smart money is on Harvick, though, and I think it's his to lose. I think Joey Logano is equally strong, but Harvick's riding a dominant Phoenix victory, so that's got to be worth something. Don't want to dismiss Denny Hamlin , but I think he and Newman will need the race of a lifetime, or troubles for Logano/Harvick, to walk off with the title. Cavanna : Harvick is the safe pick. He's got all the speed and performance. But I'm thinking yellow flags and restarts toward the end. That's where I think Logano will separate himself from the field. Albert: Nice plug, by the way, Alan . I think Hamlin is a strong second favorite -- he prevailed here last season and has had a rock-solid pit crew all year long. Cavanna : I've heard strong cases for everyone but Newman this week. And Newman's made it clear he doesn't really care what everyone else is saying. Bruce: Hamlin's pit crew has certainly gained him plenty of track position this year, Zack. But I think the rule changes in the offseason pretty much negated any success, or problems, teams had here in the past. 2. Now that we've nearly completed the first Chase under the new guidelines, what, if anything, would you change about the format for 2015? Albert: This is above my pay grade, but given the keys to the postseason system, I'd like to see the rotation of tracks shaken up a bit. Probably still best that we're in the warm-weather climes of sunny South Florida for the finale, but I'd be open to shifting up the 10 races. Bruce: As much as I agree with those who think one season is too soon to start tinkering, I do have an opinion. Of course. I like the win and you're in, then win and you advance aspects. I like that points can keep you going, too. A nice mix. My biggest issue with the format? I think the "must be in top 30 in points to be eligible" is way, way, way too loose. Who fights for 30th place? Who even runs back there? Make it top 20 for those with or without wins. There are usually some pretty decent teams battling around that neck of the woods and I think it would put a little pressure on those teams to step it up. As it stands, you can just show up and be in the top 30. Cavanna : I'd love to see some sort of reward for winning during the Chase that comes into play during Homestead. I fully understand why the rules are the way they are. "Make everyone equal, first one to the finish is the champ," no doing math during the race. BUT, fans are able to deal with that stuff the rest of the year. I think they can handle it during the finale. Harvick and Logano won in the playoff, and while they've been rewarded handsomely, they should be separated from Newman and Hamlin if only by a point or two Bruce: I like your thinking, Alan . Maybe if a Chase driver wins a Chase race, he is locked in final? That would give us a heck of a field. But I haven't thought about the potential problems there. Still ... sounds good on the surface. Cavanna : That's one step further that I thought, Kenny. Not a bad idea. Bruce: I'm putting it in the suggestion box now, Alan . Albert: And is a Chase field of 16 too many or too few? All interesting points, but believe it might be best to let this new format simmer for a while, rather than keep throwing too many tweaks at it in its infancy. Bruce: Agreed, Zack. Pretty easy to say, "Well, you should have done this" after only one year. But who knows how different it might play out in future years if left alone. Cavanna : Good call, Zack. The best thing that can be done is to leave it alone. A change we can all agree on. 3. After Chase drivers dominated the first two rounds, non-Chase drivers took two of the three Eliminator Round wins. Which driver outside the four qualifiers stands the best chance to end the season with a victory? Cavanna : Safe money is on Jimmie Johnson . He and Chad Knaus were down here testing a few weeks ago, said they learned something that helped them dominate Texas. I see it helping here. A not-so-longshot has to be Kyle Larson . This track rewards those who run as wide as possible. That's got Larson written all over it. Bruce: The list of potential winners sure got a lot deeper when we booted Brad Keselowski , Jeff Gordon , Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth to the side last week at Phoenix. I wouldn't be surprised to see Brad or Jeff win this week. If everyone on the outside is still in 2014 mode and not looking ahead to '15, I think Gordon's the guy. I picked him to win the title, missed it there, so I'm hoping to look less wrong with a win by the 24 team. Albert: I'm with you there. Wouldn't be surprised at all to see Keselowski in Victory Lane come Sunday, especially with the Blue Deuce's or White Deuce's (or whichever color is it this week) performance this season on 1.5-mile tracks. Even though they're not in the title hunt, it would be a fairly convincing exclamation point. Cavanna : "Very wrong" is a great way to describe my Chase grid. Bruce: Sounds like a book title: My Very Wrong Chase Grid. We keep mentioning Larson, Alan , and I'm as guilty as anyone. While I think it would be a great story, I think they've leveled off for now. Cavanna : I don't know, guys. This seems like a great environment for someone (cough ... 24) to get some revenge on the (No.) 2 car. Little on the line for those guys now. Bruce: Revenge? Surely not. Maybe NASCAR should have a "payback" race before Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400 . The Settle Your Score 150 perhaps? Albert: Or the Eco-Boot, where your rivals are efficiently punted out of the way. Cavanna : Winner gets a spot in the Chase? Ha! Bruce: Maybe someday Alan . But remember, we agreed to leave the Chase unchanged. For now at least. Cavanna : Deal! Bruce: Eco-Boot. Love it Zack. Albert: Where the rivalries have drivers shaking in their Eco-Boots. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Live blog: Sprint Cup season finale at Homestead
RELATED: Starting lineup " Live weather updates " See the 43-car field And then there were four. Kevin Harvick , Kyle Busch , Jeff Gordon and Martin Truex Jr . will be vying for the Sprint Cup Series title in a few hours at Homestead-Miami Speedway (3 p.m. ET, NBC). But there's plenty happening in the garage before then -- after all, it is championship weekend. NASCAR.com will be keeping a live blog covering all the Homestead action. So, check back right here for periodic updates throughout the day. 4:45 p.m. ET: Thanks for tuning into NASCAR.com's live blog from Homestead. Turn on NBC for the start of the season finale Ford EcoBoost 400 . 4:27 p.m. ET: The command has been given. Getting ready! Here we go. #TheChase https://t.co/CRZiAsagNx — #TheChase (@NASCAR) November 22, 2015 4:19 p.m. ET: Counting down the minutes until race time. Getting closer to the championship race. #Nascar pic.twitter.com/kPO2pCDbnU — Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) November 22, 2015 4:04 p.m. ET: Everyone wants to get a glismpe of Jeff Gordon . . @JeffGordonWeb has a posse. #SquadGoals pic.twitter.com/u02jsVPVo0 — #TheChase (@NASCAR) November 22, 2015 3:55 p.m. ET: One of these four drivers will be hoisting the 2015 Sprint Cup Series trophy above their heads. The #Championship4 pic.twitter.com/7TWik5wJOl — Kelly Crandall (@KellyCrandall) November 22, 2015 3:51 p.m. ET: One last time at driver intros for Jeff Gordon . Reporting for the final time! #24ever https://t.co/00i4FxHxsB — #TheChase (@NASCAR) November 22, 2015 3:30 p.m. ET: Driver introductions are now underway on NBC. 3:15 p.m. ET: Getting closer! Driver Intros scheduled for 3:30 now :) #NASCAR — Holly Cain (@_HollyCain) November 22, 2015 3:02 p.m. ET: Just awesome. A special moment between racing legends, @JeffGordonWeb & @MarioAndretti . #24Ever pic.twitter.com/WvXfrq0AWo — NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) November 22, 2015 2:43 p.m. ET: Stay with us, folks -- the radar for the rest of the day looks promising! Per @NASCAR , start of race on hold due to rain. — tom jensen (@tomjensen100) November 22, 2015 2:25 p.m. ET: The real MVPs of NASCAR are gearing up. Air Titans are being staged at the entrance of Turn 3. #NASCAR — Chris Knight (@Knighter01) November 22, 2015 2:15 p.m. ET: Driver introductions -- which were set to begin at 2:20 p.m. ET -- are on hold due to rain. 2:10 p.m. ET : Rain, rain stay away. Shower was over after 5 minutes. Steady wind keeping clouds moving quickly over the track. #nascar — Nate Ryan (@nateryan) November 22, 2015 2:03 p.m. ET: Coincidence or premonition? Look close and you'll see it. A rainbow near @HomesteadMiami :) #24ever // @NASCARONFOX pic.twitter.com/v4gM93OQAj — Alan Cavanna (@CopaCavanna) November 22, 2015 2 p.m. ET: That's a sharp-looking group. And they've all assembled -- the #Championship4 pic.twitter.com/8MKrOh0WjJ — Matt Weaver (@MattWeaverSBN) November 22, 2015 1:28 p.m. ET: Man, Jeff Gordon has some cool friends. So proud to call you a friend @JeffGordonWeb . You are a legend and an inspiration. Go real fast today buddy. #24ever — Brad Paisley (@BradPaisley) November 22, 2015 1:05 p.m. ET: Rollin' on out. Takin' her to the grid. #Championship4 pic.twitter.com/9FIMeLdSl7 — #TheChase (@NASCAR) November 22, 2015 12:46 p.m. ET: Danica Patrick pays a classy tribute to Jeff Gordon . #24ever pic.twitter.com/L2Bi8bsA0n — Danica Patrick (@DanicaPatrick) November 22, 2015 12:33 p.m. ET: One last driver's meeting for the 2015 season, set to begin at 1 p.m. ET. Early scene at @HomesteadMiami drivers' meeting with "Round and Round" by Ratt as the soundtrack. #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/Loa1Px3Vq9 — Zack Albert (@zack_albert) November 22, 2015 12:27 p.m. ET: Rodney Childers makes sure the No. 4 car is in tip-top shape for today. #NASCAR ... @RodneyChilders4 oversees final work on Kevin Harvick 's car. @NASCARonNBC pic.twitter.com/hQEPjRl9tz — Dustin Long (@dustinlong) November 22, 2015 11:51 a.m. ET: Guess who's back at the track? from the @Minions ! #Minions pic.twitter.com/rYN7dkhvt4 — Homestead-Miami (@HomesteadMiami) November 22, 2015 11:48 a.m. ET: #24ever. "How could I not be enjoying this? I'm having the time of my life. It's unbelievable." - @JeffGordonWeb on @FS1 's #NASCAR #RaceDay . — Jay W. Pennell (@jaywpennell) November 22, 2015 11:45 a.m. ET: Full house behind Jeff Gordon for his FS1 Race Day cameo this morning. . @JeffGordonWeb has arrived @FS1 and these fans are very happy about that! #24ever pic.twitter.com/l1dJd7pPxc — Hendrick Motorsports (@TeamHendrick) November 22, 2015 10:56 a.m. ET: Um, Ricky, Texas was two weeks ago. The footwear of choice in Miami is flip-flops. Breaking out some new @tonylama today. pic.twitter.com/j3UXRjNpTj — Ricky Stenhouse Jr . (@StenhouseJr) November 22, 2015 10:12 a.m. ET: We're liking the looks of these sunny skies! Blue sky, red carpet. @HomesteadMiami pic.twitter.com/SAZTaM0Lig — Alan Cavanna (@CopaCavanna) November 22, 2015 10:09 a.m. ET: The No. 48 team got a special visit from country superstar Tim McGraw this morning. . @thetimmcgraw stopping by the 48 hauler. pic.twitter.com/BmlCJDMKtX — Team Lowe's Racing (@LowesRacing) November 22, 2015 9:49 a.m. ET: Drivers like Dale Jr., media and even former President Clinton took to Twitter to wish Jeff Gordon well-wishes and share their favorite No. 24 memories. Check out all the messages here . It's been great racing with you, and learning from you. Great competitor and exceptional ambassador for @NASCAR . pic.twitter.com/KMmdAiVIWn — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) November 22, 2015 9:22 a.m. ET: A little elbow grease to accompany morning coffee for the four championship contenders' teams. Rise and grind. #TheChase https://t.co/lFAWeQ8DYl — #TheChase (@NASCAR) November 22, 2015
Roundtable: Who enters the Chase as the favorite?
Panel of experts debate that and more as the roundtable returns RELATED: Play Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota 1. OK folks, the field of 16 for this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup has been determined. Looking at this year's roster, is there a favorite in the field? Alan Cavanna : I filled out my Chase Grid (like I hope you have, print a blank one out here) -- and started with my champion, Jeff Gordon . Huge year, fast speed, and the sense that the driver from the late '90s is back. Brad Norman: I'm not so sure there is a "favorite," but there's definitely a group of "favorites." That would be the Team Penske duo and the three heavyweights at Hendrick Motorsports – sorry, Kasey Kahne . Throw in Kevin Harvick , if he gets the pit-road problems cleaned up with a new over-the-wall crew. I can't imagine a scenario in which the final four drivers at Homestead don't come from that group. Kenny Bruce: For the first time in, well, a long time, I don't think you can assume that Jimmie Johnson is a clear-cut favorite. The No. 48 team started the season slower than many expected, caught fire at mid-season but has been "average" (for them) recently. Cavanna : OK fellas, I'm the only one going out on a limb with a solid pick. C'mon now. Norman: True, Alan . If forced to pick one, I'd go with top-seeded Brad Keselowski . He's back to form, he's got a great strategist in Paul Wolfe calling the shots and the Team Penske cars have been phenomenal on those intermediate-type ovals. Of which there are five in the postseason. Bruce: I'll lean toward Alan on the Gordon pick, but I've got to give props to 2012 champ Keselowski as well. The No. 2 team has been pretty stout of late, and that momentum's got to be worth something. Cavanna : I understand though. The four drivers in the Championship Round aren't necessarily the four "best." They're the three winners, and the most consistent. A great driver will be left out of the championship race at Homestead. Norman: One thing that's most interesting about Keselowski is that Joey Logano is one of his biggest challengers. They share a garage, share info. After Logano won at Bristol and Keselowski finished second, Bad Brad was asked about how those two will continue to share info during the Chase -- and it was a topic the 2012 champion was reluctant to discuss. Bruce: I think it's interesting that Gordon and Keselowski probably feel as if they have something to prove. Keselowski for not making the Chase last year and Gordon for not winning a title in the Chase-era. And I'm not sure how much you can compare 2013 to this season, but Mr. Kenseth reeled off back-to-back wins to open the Chase a year ago, I believe. Cavanna : You beat me to it, Kenny. Ten weeks from now we'll all look like fools when Matt Kenseth is hoisting the Sprint Cup trophy. Bruce: My biggest concern with the entire JGR group is their win total this year. Three teams, two combined wins. That probably won't cut it in the Chase. Norman: For Gordon, I imagine what he's feeling is just like what a veteran may feel at any job. You see these upstarts come in and win races, you don't perform as well and perhaps you wonder if you can still hang. That's a wonderful motivator. Mr. Gordon (hey, respect your elders) can most certainly still hang. 2. Speaking of JGR, Kenseth is one of three drivers in the Chase without a win this year and two drivers, Aric Almirola and AJ Allmendinger , are making their first appearance in the "playoff." How do we expect these guys on the bottom half of the board to fare? Norman: Certainly, you expect more from Kenseth than you do Almirola or Allmendinger because of his pedigree, his team, his equipment ... all that stuff. I'm not sure Kenseth can get to Homestead still in contention for the championship, but there's no reason he shouldn't be in the Eliminator Round. Of all the guys on the bottom of the board, I think he's clearly got the best chance. Cavanna : I'm not totally worried about the winless drivers just yet. The consistency we've seen from drivers like Kenseth and Ryan Newman should carry them forward for a round or two, even without wins. Bruce: You're spot on Brad. Given Kenseth's consistency, I expect him to advance beyond the first round, probably the second. Gets tougher after that, though. Newman has been consistent all year, Greg Biffle more so of late. I think Aric and AJ test the waters and see what it's like. But advancing would be a surprise. A nice one, but a surprise just the same. Cavanna : I hate to say I have little faith in the 47 team (Allmendinger) moving on. But, Aric Almirola is riding into the Chase with two straight top-10 finishes. If he gets three more, that will put him in the next round. Norman: I do think we're going to see a "surprise" driver advance, though. I'd pick Allmendinger, if forced to give a name. He's gotten better at intermediates. More than that, though, I can foresee a scenario in which a guy more favored to advance wrecks at Chicago, and then has a couple of gambles fail as he tries to get back in it over the next two weeks. Cavanna : Brad, I like your thinking for a roundtable rookie. I think the sport and fans are in for a big surprise. It's easy to think of the better drivers and assume they all advance. But one glance at any NCAA Tournament tells you that never happens. There's always an upset or three. Bruce: The thing about it is if a driver advances beyond the first round (Chicago, New Hampshire and Dover), Talladega looms as the cutoff race for the Contender Round and as we know, anything can happen there. How cool would it be, Alan , to see the 43 battling for a title? OK, battling for a spot in the next round? A lot of history there. Cavanna : It's a long shot, but the 43 will certainly be a chic pick for advancing to the top-12. Norman: I am the Kyle Larson of the roundtable, Alan . Cavanna : You're a dry wiper? 3. Now that we've determined who will win, who will advance and who can go ahead and start taking the yellow ID markings off their cars ... which teams on the outside are most likely to pick up a win during the final 10 races? Norman: It was rare to see that happen with frequency when there were 12 (or 13) drivers in the postseason. Now with 16? I think it'll be even more rare. The biggest contender to me, the roundtable rookie, is ... Kyle Larson. Maybe at Charlotte. Heck, he could win any of them. Bruce: I don't think it was that rare ... but the folks that won were often guys you thought would have been in the Chase to begin with most of the time. Tony Stewart , Jamie McMurray , Biffle, Denny Hamlin , Gordon. But you make a good point about the numbers decreasing the likelihood. Cavanna : Prior to the start of the season I picked Austin Dillon to win a race, with Talladega in mind. I'll stick with that. Clint Bowyer showed some promise at Richmond Saturday night, but I worry that may be the team's best performance of the season. Norman: To be fair, it happened three times last year. And if you look at who won those races, two of those guys are in the Chase field this year – Keselowski and Hamlin. And McMurray was the other, winning at Talladega which is a wild card. So if anyone outside the Chase field wins, I think it could portend a big 2015 season. Larson, Bowyer, Dillon ... what about Stewart? Cavanna : I think a lot of people are overlooking what a win by a non-Chaser does to the championship run. Every time that bell rings, it's one less automatic spot for a guy going after a championship. Bruce: Bowyer is tough at New Hampshire, so maybe it's better late than never for him and the MWR team, Alan . But I wouldn't be surprised if one of the rookies, Dillon or Larson, gets a win now that there's no Chase pressure. Norman: Alan , you make a good point about the championship run. Can you imagine in any round, if somehow a non-Chaser wins two in a row? Bruce: Your comments reminded me of something, guys. If a non-Chase driver wins a race in the Chase, does he get one of those yellow "winner" stickers to go above his window? For that matter, does anyone? Cavanna : Everyone likes rewards, Kenny. I hope the stickers remain. Norman: Everyone's a winner here, Kenny. Cavanna : Even Brad Norman's Chase beard. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: NASCAR Chase Grid games WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation