On Monday’s NASCAR RACE HUB on FS1 (Monday-Thursday at 6:00 PM ET), co-host Adam Alexander welcomed a panel of FOX NASCAR analysts to the “War Room" to break down last weekend’s race at Phoenix and discuss which of the four championship contenders is best positioned to win the title next Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Below are excerpts from three-time champ and Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip, Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammond.
Who is your pick to win the championship?
“I’m going with the 78. Homestead is one of his best tracks, and based on what he did there last year, he will prevail and be a repeat champion. All these teams have big toolboxes with magic wands and pit crews, but qualifying will make a huge difference. If the 78 wins the pole, and I think he will, he gets the No. 1 pit stall, which takes a lot of pressure off the pit crew. If he wins the pole, he’s on his way to the championship."
“I’m going with Kevin Harvick. He’s going to Homestead on a bit of a mission, much like he did at Phoenix, and he’ll throw caution to the wind. Plus, he has won more races on a mile-and-a-half track this year than the other three."
“Kevin Harvick can handle the pressure, no matter who is on his pit box. His pit crew will fix their issues this week. He already showed at Phoenix that he is good enough."
How would you assess Kevin Harvick’s performance at Phoenix in light of penalties he sustained earlier in the week and adversity he faced in the race?
“He’s a scrambler. At Phoenix, he cut a tire and lost laps. But he got back in the hunt with a shot at winning the race and making the Championship 4. He’s an instigator, and I think he likes the spotlight on him. Sometimes that spotlight shines a little brighter than he’d like. I wouldn’t want to go up against him at Homestead."
How much does the emotion of the No. 78 team shutting down after Homestead factor in?
“Nobody wants to win it more than Martin Truex Jr. and Cole Pearn. They want to give the championship to Barney before they move on to their next venture. But I still see hiccups when the 78 comes to pit road. There will be a lot of pit stops on Sunday; every time the yellow flag waves, they’ll all take four more tires. Can they nail it every single time and be mistake-free?"
How will the Championship 4 finish at Homestead?
|Truex wants Visser to go out a winner|
“It will be the 78, 18, 4 and 22. The 78 bunch wants to go out in style in their last race together with Barney Visser. They’ll be playing with a lot of emotion, and they’d love to be able to give Barney another championship trophy before they all go their separate ways. The 78 team will be on fire when they get to Homestead."
Which of the four championship contenders has the most to be concerned about at Homestead?
“If there’s a team that has to lick their wounds after Phoenix a bit, it’s Joey Logano and the No. 22. They expected to be competitive but had problems. Of the four championship drivers, he’s one of the hungriest because he has never won a championship. It’s going to be interesting to see whether he can bring enough Penske luck and Ford power to contend for the championship. But he had a good run there last year."