This field of 16 drivers represents the greatest balance our sport has ever witnessed for a Sprint Cup Series title. Picking a favorite is very difficult.Justifying one team over another is taxing, if not impossible in many cases. Ive decided to hit the high spots before this weeks Chase opener. Here it is:The favorite should be Kyle BuschI suppose the greatest value to being reigning Cup champion is not being preoccupied with the burden of can I finally do this?Busch has been a NASCAR prodigy from the moment he first climbed into a NASCAR race vehicle. With that came enormous expectations. The expectations were met in terms of winning, but fell short year after year when it mattered most, the last two and a half months of the season.I believe the burden to win a Cup title became a perpetual burden on him, until it didnt in 2015. Busch is in his prime, no driver has more wins this season. Enough said!The sleeper? Denny Hamlin.After winning the season opener, Hamlin lagged behind his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates for several months.What gets lost is the No. 11 teams amazing streak of qualifying every single week, 12th or better in all 26 regular-season races. Its remarkable, and a huge advantage in terms of pit-road selections and establishing momentum early each weekend.Hamlin has quietly assembled a very good season.If he can manage his pit-road mistakes, capitalize better on restarts, this perennial Chase driver will finally take home the ring.Who has the speed to win a title?Martin Truex Jr. has been in a class by himself this year on high-speed 1.5-mile tracks.I like Truex Jr.s chances because his frame of mind seems the best ever.Im talking life.He is happy, his team loves him, and he has last years final-round chase experience.But, he also has had several potential wins get away.If this team can avoid early-round casualties, they will become stronger the deeper we get into the Chase.Dark horse? Kyle Larson.There was a time where I thought this talented young man might not be ready for the bright lights and big stage.That no longer exists!Watching Larson close out this regular season with near perfection convinced me he has the composure to match his natural talent.Ive not seen a young driver effectively move around a racetrack to find grip as well as Larson does it. Not since Jeff Gordon That is a strong comparison, but Larson is worthy of it!First four out?Chris Buescher has been an inspiring story the second half of 2016.His improbable win at Pocono reignited the importance of the underdog in this Chase formula. Ive not discovered anyone not pulling for him.This is a common-man story, with a low-budget team set to do battle with the almighty of NASCAR.Its a great story, but the numbers are against him.Austin Dillon has shown moments of brilliance this year, enough straight-up speed to win.But lack of experience and no bonus points requires near perfection from the entire team for the next three races.Next year for Austin Dillon.Jamie McMurray is a quality race car driver, seldom makes a mistake behind the wheel, has a pure sense of where his cars limits are and operates there very well.The only reason I cant see Jamie advancing is there are 12 drivers I would put ahead of he and his team right now.Tony Stewart. I hope the three-time champ can prove me wrong. The Chase is far more entertaining with Tony in it, and a final-season push similar to Gordon last year would be a deserving retirement gift.Two things I cant get past. Stewarts average qualifying and his few laps led.Make no mistake about it, Stewart will empty the tank!My Miami Final FourDenny Hamlin Martin Truex Jr. Kyle Busch Kevin HarvickThe bottom lineWho will this years champ be?Kevin Harvick!In spite of Chevrolet occupying half the Chase field, few have demonstrated the muscle to match the Toyota brigade. Harvick is the exception.The key to this team being ready to acquire a second title in three years was much discussed. It was Harvick calling out his pit crew.Following his runner-up finish in the southern 500 at Darlington, Harvick made clear to the world that he had had enough.A few days later, a swap of two members was made on the No. 4 team.So I offer this ... Harvick was not going to win this years title with the status quo. He had allowed the pit-road deficiencies to get in his head, and he was or would be distracted by it.You have heard me say for so many years that distraction is poison for drivers.If a change hadnt been made, Harvick would have been at risk of speeding every time he hit pit road because of a self-imposed urgency to gain all he could, to minimize any deficit.Or he would have been critical of the team every time a stop resulted in lost spots.While I agree it was an uncomfortable position for his crew members to experience, his message seemed timely.Harvick is easily a final four favorite based on the speed he has had on the track all year. Even at age 41, Harvik is at peak talent behind the wheel.Rodney Childers is a brilliant crew chief, calm, cool and collected, which helps balance out a very determined and sometimes emotional driver.Perhaps most important, Harvick now has a very determined pit crew. Cheap Soccer Jerseys China . 9. 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DEKALB, Ill. -- Dainan Swoope scored a career-high 26 points, Brian Dawkins added a career-best 19 points and made all three of this 3-pointers and Elon beat Illinois-Chicago 91-80 in Wednesdays opener of the NIU Thanksgiving Classic.Tyler Seibring scored 14 points on 7-of-14 shooting and made a layup, putback and 3-pointer amid a 10-2 run that gave Elon a 21-point lead with 13:24 left in the second half.Elon didnt make a field goal for 3:37 and UIC gained ground on a 10-2 run capped by Dikembe Dixsons jummper to pull to within 66-53.dddddddddddd. But Elon pulled away after Dawkins layup and 3-pointer and led by 14 after Swoope hit a 3 with 1:23 left.Dimitri Thompson added 11 points for Elon (3-1), which never trailed and led 44-31 at halftime after Swoopes 3-pointer.Dixson scored 32 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, Tai Odiase added 17 points and Marcus Ottey had 11 for UIC (2-2). 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