In auto racing, predictions are only as good as the next tire change.

Things happen.

But we've factored in all the little things and big things that go into making a Daytona 500 winner and an eventual NASCAR champion. That, naturally, means nothing, but what good is a preseason without preseason predictions?

So here you go, our three favorites for the 500 and the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series championship.

ZACH DEAN

Daytona 500

Chase Elliott — Sound the siren! The budding star from Dawsonville finally breaks through.

Austin Dillon — It's about time the No. 3 car returns to Victory Lane at Daytona.

Brad Keselowski — Do you remember the July race? Kez is a man among boys at this track.

Cup Championship

Martin Truex Jr. — It's gotta happen at some point, right?

Joey Logano — He won't have to move Carl Edwards this time.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. — Would certainly help with the ratings.

•••

GODWIN KELLY

Daytona 500

Denny Hamlin — It's been two decades since a driver has won back-to-back 500s.

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Kevin Harvick — Ford is pouring massive amounts of money into racing and this is the 10th anniversary of his only 500 win.

Kyle Larson — Some will call this a long-shot pick. It's not. He'll be in the thick of it.

Cup Championship

Kevin Harvick — He's been in the thick of the playoffs two of the last three years. Enough said.

Brad Keselowski — It's time for "Kez" to make the Championship Round. When he gets there, watch out.

Kyle Busch — Busch has this system figured out. He will be part of the mad scramble at Homestead.

•••

KEN WILLIS

Daytona 500

Chase Elliott — Mr. Hunch thinks Chase is up to speed as soon as the No. 24 team unloads the hauler this week.

Kevin Harvick — The 500 always sits on Harvick's lap for a while.

Joey Logano — Barring organizational issues, Joey might win five Daytona 500s before he's done.

Cup Championship

Jimmie Johnson — Do I really have to explain why he's on this list?

Chase Elliott — Fast at season's start, maybe fast at the end.

Matt Kenseth — You may have noticed, he always seems to have a shot at the championship.

NOTE

The Daytona Beach News-Journal is a sister paper of the Daily News with GateHouse Media. You can follow continuing coverage of the Daytona 500 on their sports web page by clicking this LINK.