Indianapolis: Hamlin vs. Reutimann, Menard vs. Ragan. Pocono: Hamlin vs. Menard, Reutimann vs. Ragan. Watkins Glen: Hamlin vs. Ragan, Reutimann vs. Menard.
Yes, Paul Menard has run well this season, but this group is clearly divided into two tiers and it would be shocking if either Menard or Ragan were able to sneak into the bracket. Hamlin owns Pocono, so that should be an automatic win, and while his team isn't emphasizing road courses, he still should be heavily favored over Ragan. Reutimann should win at Pocono as well, and if he beats Hamlin at Indy his ticket to the tournament should be validated.
Jay's Picks: Winner: Denny Hamlin — This is — no disrespect to the other drivers — the easiest pick of the bunch. Hamlin's going to roll here, particularly with Pocono in the mix. And, of course, he could always spin Reutimann again if there's trouble.
To Advance: David Reutimann — The Franchise is solid but nowhere near Hamlin's class. But even going in reverse he ought to be able to outrun Menard and Ragan. And there, his success will surely end.
Nick's Picks: Winner: Denny Hamlin — Hamlin's one of the favorites at Indianapolis, and I think the winner of his matchup with Reutimann at the Brickyard decides the group.
To Advance: David Reutimann — No sweat for The Franchise as he advances easily as well.