NASCAR Picks for New Hampshire
Length: 1.058 miles
Location: Loudon, New Hampshire
The Cup Series heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend, and the flat, 1.0-mile oval poses a number of challenges for drivers. While the track itself resembles Martinsville Speedway doubled in size, the longer straightaways create much higher speeds, and the longer corners pose a different challenge. As with any flat track, passing can be difficult and track position is crucial. Expect drivers to get on different pit strategies on the first available opportunity, and late in the race, don't be surprised if the action on the track starts to get a little physical.
For fantasy owners, a trip to New Hampshire will require a much different strategy than the one used last weekend at Daytona. While just about any driver can run well at the superspeedway, a select core of drivers has been dominant at the 1.0-mile oval. As a result, fantasy owners should be able to build their roster around a group of reliable drivers, which should hopefully lead to a much better weekend.
Denny Hamlin, #11 FedEx, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Although his luck has been terrible since he returned from a back injury, Hamlin did finish first and second in two races at New Hampshire last year. Meanwhile, his 7.9 average finish at the track is the best among active drivers; and in 14 starts, he has finished outside the top 15 only once. More importantly, he has finished third or better in five of his last seven starts at New Hampshire.
Jimmie Johnson, #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
Fresh off his fourth win of 2013, Johnson heads to a New Hampshire track where he has already tallied three victories in his career. Not to mention the fact that his 9.5 average finish is the second best in the series; and in 22 starts at New Hampshire, Johnson has logged 15 top-10s and has failed to crack the top 15 only three times.
Kasey Kahne, #5 Farmers Insurance/Quaker State, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
Kahne is the defending winner of this weekend's race, and he has been stout at New Hampshire since joining Hendrick Motorsports. In four starts at the track with the organization, he has posted a 6.7 average finish and has finished sixth or better three times. Not to mention the fact that Kahne followed up his win in the July event with a top-five run in the fall race at the track. He is dialed in at New Hampshire right now.
Jeff Gordon, #24 Drive to End Hunger/Axalta, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
He is a three-time winner at New Hampshire in his career, and Gordon provides fantasy owners with the perfect blend of reliability and upside this weekend. After all, he has cracked the top 15 in his last 15 starts at the track. During the stretch, Gordon has nine finishes of sixth or better, including three straight.
Tony Stewart, #14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1, Stewart-Haas Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Stewart is no stranger to running up front at New Hampshire. In addition to his three wins at the track, "Smoke" has also finished second on five other occasions. More importantly, he hasn't slowed down since joining Stewart-Haas Racing, logging seven top-15s in eight starts at New Hampshire, including one victory and two runner-up efforts.
Clint Bowyer, #15 5-Hour Energy, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class A]
He has been one of the rising stars at New Hampshire, and Bowyer enters this weekend's race with five top-10s in his last seven starts at the track. He is also a two-time winner at New Hampshire, and he would have three wins had he not run out of fuel while leading on the final lap of the fall event in 2011. Last year, Bowyer finished third and fourth in two starts at the track, so fantasy owners should expect a strong showing from him Sunday.
Brad Keselowski, #2 Miller Lite, Penske Racing [Yahoo Class A]
His overall numbers at New Hampshire don't stack up with some of the other big names, but Keselowski has been on fire at the track recently. He has reeled off three straight finishes of sixth or better, posting a 4.3 average finish during the stretch. Meanwhile, his 122 points scored in the three races are the second most of any driver.
Matt Kenseth, #20 Husky/Dollar General, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class A]
From 2008 through the July race in 2011, Kenseth actually went seven straight starts at New Hampshire without cracking the top 15. However, he has since reeled off three straight top-15s at the track; this weekend he will be making his first start at New Hampshire for a Joe Gibbs Racing team that has enjoyed a lot of success at the track over the years. Don't be surprised if Kenseth has one of his stronger runs at New Hampshire this weekend.
Brian Vickers, #55 Aaron's Dream Machine, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Vickers will be back behind the wheel of the Michael Waltrip Racing No. 55 machine this weekend, and he enjoyed plenty of success at New Hampshire with the team last season. He finished in the top 15 in both starts at the track in 2012, notching a top-10 finish in the fall. Overall, Vickers has three straight top-15s at New Hampshire and owns a 9.5 average finish during the stretch.
Ryan Newman, #39 Quicken Loans/Haas Automation, Stewart-Haas Racing [Yahoo Class B]
With three wins at New Hampshire, Newman has always enjoyed a lot of success at the 1.0-mile oval. However, he has emerged as one of the more consistent options at the track since joining Stewart-Haas Racing. Newman has six top-10s in eight starts at New Hampshire with the organization, and he finished in the top 10 in both races at the track last year.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., #88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class B]
While he hasn't had a lot of great runs at New Hampshire in his career, Junior has shown plenty of consistency. He has a 13.7 average finish in the last 20 races at the track, and that average has jumped to 10.2 since 2010. Junior has finished outside the top 15 just once in his last six starts at New Hampshire, and he should finish somewhere in or around the top 10 this weekend.
Kevin Harvick, #29 Budweiser/Rheem, Richard Childress Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Since winning at New Hampshire in the fall of 2006, Harvick has managed just two top-five finishes in his last 12 starts at the track. That being said, he has remained a solid option at New Hampshire by tallying eight top-15 finishes, including three straight. Fantasy owners looking for a victory this weekend may want to look elsewhere, but Harvick should be a nice addition to rosters in most formats.