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Comparing NASCAR YouTubers’ Playoff Prediction Hot Takes

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Chris Hansen

Chris Hansen

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year for thousands of NASCAR fans around the world. The 2023 playoffs are finally upon us, and like all sports, the pre-season predictions aren’t going to line up exactly right.

Everyone has their own opinions surrounding this year’s playoff drivers, down to the overall champion at Phoenix Raceway in November. A group of NASCAR Youtubers including Eric Estepp, EllyProductions49, NRF Productions, KarmaMJO, and William Blackwell all gave their opinions on which drivers are the clear favorites to advance deep in the playoffs while eliminating those drivers whose dreams of winning a title will end rather quickly.

What predictions are perhaps the most accurate, which ones are the most unpredictable, and what predictions are most likely to occur? Let’s find out!

Comparisons: First Round Exits

When digesting the Round of 16 contenders, there are a few drivers that stick out as most likely to not advance to the Round of 12. The general consensus from this panel of Youtubers includes Michael McDowell, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Ryan Blaney.

For Stenhouse Jr. and McDowell, just making the postseason was an accomplishment in and of itself. Stenhouse’s Daytona 500 victory to open the season and McDowell’s dominant win on the Indy Road Course could be viewed as true surprises among fans.

However, the Round of 16 features no road course races or plate-style tracks, where those 2 drivers perform well at. In addition, Stenhouse Jr. hasn’t been known to be a factor running at the front at Darlington and Kansas but has run well at Bristol in the past. McDowell has proven to be a contender on the road course and plate tracks like Stenhouse, unfortunately, none of those tracks appear until the Round of 12.

Another surprise among the group includes Ryan Blaney not advancing out of the Round of 16 according to Eric Estepp, KarmaMJO, and William Blackwell. Those 3 haven’t seen much success from Ryan and his #12 team since his Coca-Cola 600 victory earlier this season. In addition, the Penske drivers haven’t had flashy seasons by any means with only 2 victories between Blaney and teammate Joey Logano.

Additionally, Bubba Wallace was predicted to be eliminated in the opening round according to Eric and William simply because he failed to earn those coveted stage points throughout the regular season. Stage points are so important, especially during the playoffs, and for drivers that have little to no stage points, it will be that much harder to advance as those drivers will always be reset at the bottom of the playoff standings going into each round.

Contrasts: Playoff Surprises

In every iteration of the NASCAR playoffs going back to the 2014 playoffs, there have been surprising drivers who’ve advanced deep in the playoffs. Drivers like Ryan Newman in 2014 reached the Championship 4, and Chase Briscoe advancing all the way to the Round of 8 in 2022 among the most notable.

In 2023, some drivers that could fall into that category include Ross Chastain, Kevin Harvick, and Brad Keselowski. According to KarmaMJO, he has Ross Chastain not advancing out of the Round of 16, which is to the surprise of many considering Ross made it all the way to the Championship 4 last season.

KarmaMJO states that Ross hasn’t had that same winning speed that he had in 2022, having only visited victory lane once this season at Nashville. However, William Blackwell has Chastain advancing all the way to the Round of 8, just coming up short of advancing to the Championship 4.

Kevin Harvick is a curious case, as the entire SHR organization has struggled at times this season, really only having speed at the short tracks like Martinsville and Richmond and the plate tracks like Daytona and Talladega. Eric Estepp, taking those things has Harvick out of the playoffs in the Round of 12, one round later than most fans might have him at. Furthermore, William has 2021 champion Kyle Larson being eliminated for the second year in a row in the Round of 12, as many times throughout this season, Larson has beaten himself whether on track or on pit road with untimely penalties.

EllyProductions49 has Tyler Reddick, eliminated in the opening round of last year’s playoffs going all the way to the Championship 4, while others have Reddick going out much earlier than that. The reasoning is not for Reddick’s equipment he drives, but rather the mistakes made by the driver and the crew when the car has had race-winning speed.

Comparisons: Championship Favorite

Sometimes in NASCAR, not everyone can agree on the overwhelming favorite to win the championship year to year. In 2023, however, the general consensus is that a Joe Gibbs Racing driver is the favorite to hoist the championship trophy at the end of the season. NRF Productions has Denny Hamlin winning it all, while Out of the Groove’s Eric Estepp has Martin Truex Jr. winning his second Cup title.

And both of those drivers have been championship picks since the season began, even though Truex missed the playoffs entirely last year and failed to win a race as well. Denny Hamlin has come painfully close to winning a title on several occasions, and in the current format, Hamlin has been in the Championship 4 but has come up short every time. William Blackwell also believes that Denny Hamlin will silence the doubters and claim that coveted NASCAR Cup title, erasing all those tough losses throughout the course of his career.

We all have our own predictions as to what drivers will be eliminated early on, those drivers that could quietly advance farther than anticipated, and of course the overall championship favorite. These are only a few predictions, and we’d love to hear your 2023 playoff predictions.

Join the conversation online at The Daily Downforce and drop your playoff predictions in the comments below. And make sure to follow The Daily Downforce for the latest developments throughout the 2023 NASCAR playoffs.

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Chris Hansen

Chris Hansen

All Posts