Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage isn't one to play coy when it comes to the business of prognostication. This modern-day Nostradamus, just two days before the green flag falls on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff-opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, put his cards on the table, unveiling who he believes will advance through each round of the playoffs, and who will eventually hoist the championship trophy at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
This year's 16-driver playoff field is made up of: Kyle Busch (No.18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota); Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota); Martin Truex Jr. (No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota); Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford); Joey Logano (No. 22 Team Penske Ford); Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Team Penske Ford); Chase Elliott (No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy); Kurt Busch (No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevy); Alex Bowman (No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy); Erik Jones (No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota); Kyle Larson (No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevy); Ryan Blaney (No. 12 Team Penske Ford); William Byron (No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy); Aric Almirola (No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford); Clint Bowyer (No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford); Ryan Newman (No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford)
- Round of 12: Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch, Erik Jones, Kyle Larson, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman
- Gossage's take (on Newman moving on despite entering as the last seed): "This is the first time since 2006 that the No. 6 car has been in the playoffs, and back then it was driven by Mark Martin so that's quite an accomplishment for that team."
- Round of Eight: Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer
- Gossage's take (on 3rd seed Martin Truex Jr. being eliminated early): "Somebody's going to have a bad round. Somebody's going to be involved in a crash that's not of their doing. Somebody's going to have a tire go down. Somebody's going to blow an engine. For whatever reason, my senses tell me it's Martin Truex Jr. who does not advance to the Round of Eight.
- Championship Four: Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott
- Gossage's take (on the drama of surviving Texas to advance to this round): "Now it really gets tight. The Round of Eight, it really gets down to it. One little mistake and your season's over. Here at Texas drama always seems to occur."
- 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion: Chase Elliott
- Gossage's take (on Elliott's first championship): "I've done all the research, crunched all the numbers, talked to all the people, and that guy, Chase Elliott, wins his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship in the No. 9 car."
Sunday's playoff opener, the South Point 400 at Las Vegas, will be broadcast live on NBCSN beginning at 6:00 p.m. CT.
The eighth round of the ten-race playoff is a stop at Texas Motor Speedway for the AAA Texas 500 doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 playoff race is Saturday, Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m. CT, followed by the Cup Series AAA Texas 500 playoff race on Sunday, Nov. 3 at 2:00 p.m. CT.