Our experts weigh in on four of the biggest questions in NASCAR this week:
Turn 1: Halfway through the "regular season," who'll enter the Chase with the most wins?
Ed Hinton, ESPN.com: JJ for sure. I would say Kevin Harvick, but we saw that bad luck bite him yet again Sunday. The Jimmie and Chad show operates and thrives on the old theory that the harder you work, the luckier you get.
Brant James, ESPN.com: Jimmie Johnson. The guy is just getting limbered up. A hernia surgery cost him one preseason test and bad weather two more, and Kevin Harvick took advantage. Total focus on winning a sixth title last year had precluded preparing for the defense. Now crew chief Chad Knaus has a bead on the new aero package. Bad news for everyone else.
Ryan McGee, ESPN The Magazine: Jimmie Johnson. I saw "Godzilla" last week. The big guy didn't actually show up until like 45 minutes into the movie. But when he finally did show up, he went big. I was surprised he wasn't wearing Lowe's gear.
John Oreovicz, ESPN.com: Jimmie Johnson. Whatever scoring or playoff system NASCAR throws at him and Hendrick Motorsports' No. 48 team, they find a way to beat it. If winning the most races in the regular season truly matters, Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus will find a way to get it done.
Marty Smith, ESPN Insider: Kevin Harvick. The 4 will get the pit crew setbacks handled. Speed kills.
Turn 2: Jamie McMurray's car hit a chunk of concrete that had come loose on the track at Dover, causing some front-end damage. As per NASCAR rules, his team was not allowed to work on the car during the ensuing red-flag stoppage. This isn't the first time it has happened. Should NASCAR reconsider this rule when the racing surface itself causes the damage to the car?
Hinton: Absolutely, positively, unequivocally yes, yes, yes and yes. Glad I wasn't at Robin Pemberton's postrace news conference. Corporate intransigence is bad for my blood pressure.
James: No. And I know McMurray was caught in a completely unfair situation. I just don't like rules so open to interpretation they might not be applied fairly each time and would be destined to broaden. Imagine a crew chief begging for relief because a hot dog wrapper covered his driver's grille and cooked the motor. Absurd? Yes. But this sport trades in the absurd.
McGee: Yes. I talked to McMurray after the race, and, although he was very polite about it, he was rightfully perturbed. I think something like the track coming apart or a camera cable breaking or a caution light falling off the railing ... any incident that was totally out of the competitors' control needs to receive more serious consideration. It's not as if they are giving a team a chance to create a competitive edge. The crew isn't putting a new setup in the car. More than likely the team is just trying to survive the day. Don't write a hard-and-fast rule; keep it a judgment call from race control, but use a little more leniency when it comes to that judgment.
Oreovicz: Yes. The current rule unfairly penalizes drivers for circumstances that are out of their control. It's NASCAR's responsibility to provide a safe, consistent racetrack to all competitors, and, in a situation like what happened to McMurray at Dover, officials should have the ability to permit the affected team to make repairs.
Smith: No. It's awful luck for McMurray and it stinks, but, if you let him work on his car, everyone should have that opportunity. In a weird way, I view it like the wide-open wide receiver who is inadvertently tripped by the referee -- he isn't awarded a touchdown.
Turn 3: With no wins so far and drivers 11th, 14th and 15th in points, will Richard Childress Racing put a driver in the Chase?
Hinton: Probably not. Oh, maybe Ryan Newman or Paul Menard might slip through with a win, but that would make the Chase only nominally. This, sadly, just isn't a championship-caliber team right now. I hate it for the man who has come further, starting with less, than anybody: Richard Childress himself.
James: Austin Dillon is a points-racing craftsman and has a shot. RCR could get two in as I believe there aren't too many new winners left.
McGee: It's going to be close. I think it could all hinge on the July 13 race at New Hampshire. That will be Ryan Newman's best shot at a win between now and the Chase. If not there, expect them to throw the kitchen sink at Indianapolis, where Newman and Menard have both been winners. I really do believe Austin Dillon can win a race as a rookie, but I think that might come later in the year. If he's going to do it, it would be at Michigan or Kentucky, but I think that's asking too much too soon.
Oreovicz: More than likely, because I can't see too many drivers ranked 17th or lower who look able to win a race or go on an extended run of good results that would put them in. I don't expect all three Childress drivers to make the Chase, and the lack of a star lead driver is hurting the team, but I think one of them will qualify.
Smith: RCR is underwhelming right now but still consistent. The cars will make speed at Daytona in July. And Ryan Newman is among the best in the game at Indianapolis and Loudon. If I were to guess, I'd say he's the team's best chance.
Turn 4: We're six first-time winners from having 16 winners entering the Chase. Pick three winless drivers you think will get it done in the next 13 races, and tell us why.
Hinton: Matt Kenseth for the obvious reasons: He's a factor in just about every race and is sure to break through somewhere. Kyle Larson because he's just too good not to and it's just a matter of getting the "dark horse" win out of the way. Clint Bowyer just because he has shown time and again he can pop up and win out of the darkest of circumstances.
James: Matt Kenseth -- He's Matt Kenseth. After leading the series with seven last year, he didn't forget how to win. Tony Stewart -- His summer vocation is knocking out victories. Marcos Ambrose -- His path to the Chase is actually a road course.
McGee: Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth are the first that come to mind because they rarely get through a summer without a win. In the past decade, Biffle has had only two winless seasons, and he has won at Michigan each of the past two years. Kenseth has had only three winless seasons since 2000. And for my third I'll take Marcos Ambrose. With two road course races in the next nine weeks, he'll be bringing the chrome horn.
Oreovicz: I'm going to join the Marcos Ambrose bandwagon. Earlier this year, Richard Petty gave me the impression this is a "go big or go home" year for the Australian, and -- with the two road races, two races at Michigan and a couple of short tracks where he excels -- Ambrose has a fighting chance. Matt Kenseth is the points leader and is near the front every week, so he's an obvious choice, and I'll take Greg Biffle as my third pick.
Smith: Matt Kenseth -- gained notable, noticeable speed the past couple of weeks. He'll win soon. Marcos Ambrose -- road course marvel. Kasey Kahne -- been out to lunch and quite inconsistent. Probably the most-perplexing team in the sport right now, given his teammates' speed. But it just takes one. And he has shown the speed at Kansas and Charlotte (All-Star, anyway) to get one