Oreovicz: Roush Fenway. Although the Gibbs Toyotas haven't been pacesetters the way they were occasionally a year ago, all three JGR drivers have contended for wins. RFR just hasn't been very competitive, period, and it surely extends beyond the partial season of uncertainty about their future driver lineup. The Penske Fords are running at the front and winning races, but Roush Fenway's engineering team seems to have missed something fundamental in adapting to the 2014 rules package.
Smith: JGR. Matt Kenseth was unbelievable last year, but this year his team hasn't made the same speed. The whole organization hasn't. It can. And I expect the teams to. If any one of those teams finds a bit more speed, it'll be very dangerous in the Chase.
Hinton: Dale Earnhardt Jr., of course, to get Junior Nation and even the general public all worked up over his shot at a championship at last. Jeff Gordon because Wonder Boy, turned grand old man, has endeared himself to fans across the board by sticking around and being so competitive for so long. Brad Keselowski because he's the driver America would love to have a beer or three with. Tony Stewart with one of his ongoing shows where he barely makes it into the Chase, then goes on a rampage, a la 2011, when he won five of the 10 playoff races.
James: Jimmie Johnson: bidding for a historic seventh Sprint Cup championship with the chance to tie Richard Petty and the late Dale Earnhardt.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: The storyline that dwarfs all other storylines. NASCAR would become a mainstream story for its ultimate weekend.
Jeff Gordon: The veteran, four-time champion would conjure nostalgia, emotions, pro and con, and curiosity over whether he would end his storied career with a final championship. This, too, would create a mainstream interest in the series.
Kyle Larson: A new star standing against the old guard with a chance to win a championship as a rookie. A NASCAR diversity star in full bloom, a bridge -- the series would so desperately hope -- to an apathetic younger demographic.
McGee: In a perfect world, a Gordon vs. Dale Jr. vs. Jimmie vs. Stewart final four would have Brian France dancing on Daytona Beach, even if his marketing people would rather not have one lone manufacturer represented. Those are the sport's biggest names. But in a realistic world, a Gordon/Earnhardt/Keselowski/Johnson grouping would be something to hang one's hat on. Brad brings Ford, youth, beer and a little bit of bad guy to the party.
Oreovicz: 1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. -- The man the fans love. 2. Jimmie Johnson -- The man they love to hate. 3. Jeff Gordon -- For old times' sake. 4. Danica Patrick -- Can you imagine the hype?
Smith: 88. 24. 48. 14.