The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series moves to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the 19th race of the 2012 season, the Lenox Industrial Tools 301. NASCAR expert Brian Brown took a look at past performances, season trends, and spoke to NASCAR contacts to provide you the most accurate fantasy preview of Sunday’s race.
When: Sunday, July 15, 2012; 1:16 p.m./et.
Weather: Partly cloudy with high around 87; wind out of the SW at 6 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
The Track: New Hampshire MotorSpeedway
NHMS is a 1.058 mile flat-oval. It has 12 degree banking on the corners with 2 degree banking on the straight-aways. Ryan Newman has been great at NHMS during his career. He earned his first career Nextel Cup victory at the track and has won two additional races at NHMS. Newman, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, and Clint Bowyer have won the past seven races at the track.
Key to Race: THAT ISONE BIG PAPERCLIP
NHMS is basically a big version ofMartinsville. It is a mile long paperclip configuration with two long straight-aways with tight corners at the ends. This race is always hard on brakes and tires. The team that can figure out a setup that allows them to keep the brakes and tires fresh will have a big advantage. Look for Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch to have strong runs in Sunday's race.
44 cars will attempt to qualify for 43 spots. If the first practice is run, but qualifying is unable to take place, the starting lineup will be based on speeds from the car's fastest lap from the first practice, with top-35 cars in owner points no longer segregated from the non-top 35 cars. Previously, the top 35 cars lined up in front of all other eligible car owners.
Fantasy Cheat Sheet:
No. 14 Tony Stewart: Stewart has 14 top five finishes, including three wins, in 26 career starts at NHMS. He has brought one of the best cars in the field the last few races in the Granite State and is a terrific option.
No. 24 Jeff Gordon: Between 1997 and 2001 Gordon was easily the top driver at NHMS, but then the Rainbow Warrior went into a serious slump at the track. He has worked hard at his race setups at the Magic Mile and is once again a great option to take the checkers.
No. 48 Jimmie Johnson: Johnson has finished in the top 15 in all but three of his 20 career Cup starts at NHMS. He won at the track in June of 2010 and is a great pick on Sunday.
No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Junior has finished in the top 10 in nine of the last 18 races at NHMS. He tested at the track this spring and should notch five this weekend.
No. 39 Ryan Newman: In 19 Cup starts at the Magic Mile, Newman has 12 top 10 finishes, including three wins. He is a solid pick in most fantasy leagues.
6 to 10
No. 16 Greg Biffle: Biffle was fast in four of the past seven NHMS races. He should be blazing again this weekend.
No. 11 Denny Hamlin: Hamlin won the July 2007 race at NHMS and has finished in the top 10 in eight of his last 12 Cup races at the track. He is an excellent pick on Sunday.
No. 29 Kevin Harvick: Harvick has 11 top 10 finishes in 22 career starts at NHMS. He won the September 2006 race at track and should crack the top 10 again on Sunday.
No. 99 Carl Edwards: Carl has had one of the better cars at NHMS the past few years, but it hasn’t translated to a win. He will flirt with another top 10 finish this weekend.
No. 20 Joey Logano: Logano won his first career Cup race at NHMS. This is his home track and he has a lot of speed at the Magic Mile.
11 to 20
No. 18 Kyle Busch: Rowdy has cracked the top 10 four times in the past 11 races at NHMS. He will be back in the top 10 this trip up Route 106.
No. 17 Matt Kenseth: Kenseth has been terrible in three of the past four races at NHMS. He should finish just barely outside the top 10 on Sunday.
No. 2 Brad Keselowski: Keselowski finished second last fall at the Magic Mile. He is a good shoe to gamble on this weekend.
No. 15 Clint Bowyer: Bowyer has dominated two of the last eight races at NHMS. If he can bring a similar setup to the track this weekend he will be tough to beat.
No. 31 JeffBurton: Burtonhas an impressive history at NHMS. In 32 starts at the track he has won four races. He is a safe pick to finish inside the top 15 on Sunday.
No. 56 Martin Truex Jr.: Truex has five top eight finishes in the last 10 races at NHMS. This is the weekend to use the No. 56 driver.
No. 5 Kasey Kahne: Kahne finally found some speed at NHMS the past few visits. He is a decent, but not great option this weekend.
No. 51 Kurt Busch: Busch has three career wins at NHMS including the July 2008 rain-shortened race. With his past success at the track he is worth taking a gamble on.
No. 10 David Reutimann: Reutimann cracked the top 20 in seven of the last eight races at NHMS. He will finish inside the top 20 again this weekend.
No. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya: Montoya has averaged a 20th place finish at NHMS during his career. He will finish right around his track-average on Sunday.
21 to 30
No. 9 Marcos Ambrose: Ambrose averages a 21st place finish at NHMS. Based on how he has run this season, he should cross the finish line just a little faster this visit.
No. 43 Aric Almirola: Almirola has run plenty of laps at NHMS during his career. He should have the No. 43 inside the top 25 when the checkers fly in the Granite State.
No. 1 Jamie McMurray: McMurray appeared to finally figure out NHMS’s tricky configuration during the September 2011 race.
No. 22 Sam Hornish Jr.: Hornish Jr. is behind the wheel of the No. 22 car this weekend as A.J. Allmendinger deals with a positive drug test. He is not a terrible pick.
No. 34 David Ragan: Ragan has been very inconsistent at NHMS. He should just make the top 30 again this weekend.
No. 27 Paul Menard: NHMS has never been kind to Menard. He isn't a fantasy option this weekend.
No. 47 Bobby Labonte: Labonte cruised to a seventh place finish at NHMS last June. He is a great sleeper pick.
No. 55 Brian Vickers: Vickers has averaged a 22nd place finish the past five years at NHMS. He will finish just a little slower than his average this weekend.
No. 78 Regan Smith: Smith should have the No. 78 inside the top 30 once again.
No. 13 Casey Mears: Mears has had limited past success at NHMS. We don’t like his chances to help your fantasy team this weekend.
No. 32 Ken Schrader
No. 38 David Gilliland
No. 83 Landon Cassill
No. 33 Stephen Leicht
No. 93 Travis Kvapil
No. 36 Dave Blaney
No. 87 Joe Nemechek
No. 23 Scott Riggs
No. 30 David Stremme
No. 98 Michael McDowell
No. 49 J.J. Yeley
No. 19 Mike Bliss
No. 26 Josh Wise
No. 79 Kelly Bires
1. Tony Stewart
2. Jeff Gordon
3. Jimmie Johnson
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
1. Sam Hornish Jr.
2. Bobby Labonte
Bust of the Week: