Camping World RV Sales 301 Practice Recap: Sleeper Drivers to Watch
The Cup Series heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend, and while pit strategy often factors heavily in deciding the outcome of races at the track, drivers with fast cars still have a bit of an edge, even though passing is notoriously difficult at the flat, 1.0-mile oval. After all, drivers can use track position to hold up faster cars for a while, but it comes at the cost of brakes and tires. Eventually, drivers that have cars that are handling well have the advantage, which at the very least gives them a chance to dictate pit strategy for late in the race. With that in mind, here is a closer look at a some potential sleeper options for Sunday's race following a pair of practice sessions at New Hampshire Saturday.
1. Jamie McMurray: McMurray was one the better cars on the track during the practices at New Hampshire Saturday. He turned the second-fastest lap to go along with the third-best 10-lap average speed in the first session, and he ranked sixth on the charts and posted the sixth-best 10-lap average speed in Happy Hour. His career numbers at New Hampshire leave a little to be desired, but he did have a solid season at the track a year ago, finishing 12th and fifth. McMurray appears to have a car capable of challenging for a top-10 this weekend, and he is worth a look as a sleeper in any format.
2. Kyle Larson: The rookie had himself a solid afternoon during practice at New Hampshire Saturday. He turned the fifth-fastest lap in the opening practice, and while he slid a bit to 14th on the charts in Happy Hour, he also logged the second-best 10-lap average speed in the final practice. With plenty of speed on both short and long runs, Larson should have no trouble delivering a solid finish in his Cup Series debut at New Hampshire. He is a safe bet for a top-20 just about every week, and his ceiling appears to be much higher.
3. Martin Truex Jr.: Truex was rock solid in both practice sessions at New Hampshire Saturday. He cracked the top 10 in both the morning and afternoon session, ranking as high as sixth on the charts. Meanwhile, Truex has a history of success at the track. He has compiled a 14.7 average finish in 16 starts at New Hampshire, and he has finished outside the top 20 only three times. He looks like a safe bet to challenge for a top-15 this weekend and possibly a top-10. Truex is worth taking a flier on in just about every format if you are looking for a sleeper pick.
4. Jeff Burton: The veteran could be making his last Cup start this weekend, and fantasy owners should definitely consider taking advantage. Burton turned the 15th-fatsest lap in the first practice at New Hampshire and the 17th-fastest lap in the final session. He also logged the 10th-best 10-lap average speed in the opening practice. Burton has run well at the track throughout his career, tallying four wins to go along with a 13.4 average finish. Perhaps more importantly, he has remained competitive even in his later year, finishing third and eighth just last season. A top-15 finish is a real possibility for Burton this weekend, and he is a viable sleeper in any format and a great C-List option in Yahoo! leagues.
5. Paul Menard: Menard delivered a solid all-around performance during practice at New Hampshire Saturday. He logged ninth-fastest lap and eighth-best 10lap average speed in the first session, and he turned the 12th-fastest lap to go along with the ninth-best 10-lap average speed in Happy Hour. The balance between both sessions and on long and short runs bodes well for his chances Sunday. Granted, he has struggled at New Hampshire in the past, but he has finished 17th or better in three of his last four starts at the track and has four top-20s in his last five starts. Menard could be a sneaky top-15 option this weekend.
6. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: His two starts at New Hampshire as a rookie didn't end well as he finished 34th and 24th, but he appears to have made some strides at the track. He cracked the top 20 in both practice sessions Saturday, and he posted the 11th-best 10-lap average speed in the first practice of the afternoon. Stenhouse still has limited upside for a sleeper pick, but a top-20 finish appears to be within reach. In deeper formats, he might be able to get the job done this weekend.
7. Justin Allgaier: If you are looking for a sleeper in deeper leagues or a cheaper option in NASCAR.com Fantasy Live, Allgaier could be the driver to target. He has never made a Cup start at New Hampshire, but he cracked the top 25 in both practice sessions at the track Saturday, and he logged the 18th-best 10-lap average speed in Happy Hour. Allgaier won't carry a fantasy lineup by any means, but he could challenge for a top-20. In certain formats, he could be the perfect driver to round out a roster.
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