NASCAR Pre-Race Media: top favorites/preview for Sunday’s Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN)

TRACK: New Hampshire Motor Speedway (1.058-mile oval). DISTANCE: 301 Laps — STAGE 1: 75 Laps, STAGE 2: 110 Laps, FINAL STAGE: 116 Laps, MILES (318.458 Miles)

STARTING LINEUP

Favorites – Toyota the favorites?

Kevin Harvick

He’s won this race in two of the last three years and fifth in the other. Harvick, also has eight top five finishes in his last 10 starts in the Granite State including three wins in his last six starts there overall.

Denny Hamlin

You can’t overlook him here. He has nine straight top 15 finishes including a runner-up the last two years and a win in 2017. On short tracks this season, he was third (Phoenix), third (Martinsville), second (Richmond) and seventh (Dover).

Kyle Busch

Busch, has 10 top 10 finishes in his last 13 New Hampshire starts including seven of which being in the top three. He also has two wins and four runner-ups in that time frame.

Martin Truex Jr. 

May be a better fantasy play than outright winner. Truex, had five top 10 finishes in his first seven New Hampshire starts. Then, he had two in his next 13 tries there. But, seven of his last eight have seen him finish in the top 10 again including five straight in the top seven. He was third last year. Also, Truex won Phoenix and Martinsville, was fifth in Richmond and 19th in Dover. 

Brad Keselowski

Keselowski, has won in the past (2014, 2020) and has 12 top 10 finishes in his last 16 tries.

Joey Logano

May be the better Penske play. He was fourth last year for his fourth straight Loudon top 10. On short tracks this season, he’s finished second (Phoenix), sixth (Martinsville), third (Richmond) and fifth (Dover) respectively. 


Race Preview

The NASCAR Cup Series drivers has one more race before the final off weekends of the season. See, they’ll get two weeks off while NBC Sports focuses’ their attention to the Olympics with the NASCAR drivers getting a much needed break before the final push to the championship. 

Loudon is a track that is a great precursor for Phoenix in the sense that they race somewhat similar and that the drivers who typically do good in New Hampshire typically are the ones in the Championship 4 come the Fall. 

Since New Hampshire has become a once a year track in 2018, the championship 4 drivers have finished 1-2 in all three years. They took three of the top four spots in two of the three years at that. In saying that, we’ve seen Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing really separate themselves from everyone else this season. Do they continue that this weekend or does Stewart-Haas Racing and Team Penske show some strength and prove to us that we can’t count them out in the playoffs later?

SHR has been down this season but this is a great track for them. Kevin Harvick has eight top five finishes in his last 10 tries including two wins and a fifth place effort in his last three. Aric Almirola was third in 2018, 11th in 2019 and seventh last year. Cole Custer was even eighth a year ago. 

For 2021 though, they’ve struggled. Harvick, has no top five finishes on short tracks this season. Almirola was sixth in Richmond and that’s the only top 10 on any 750 track for this year. Custer was 10th in Dover but his other short track finishes have been 18th or worse. Chase Briscoe has been 17th or worse in all but one start on 750 tracks and the only one better was a sixth place run in the rain at COTA. 

But, it has always seemed like New Hampshire breaks them out of their funk though. 

For Penske, Ryan Blaney has been quietly good at New Hampshire with three top 10’s in his last four tries. Brad Keselowski won this race last year while Joey Logano has four straight top 10’s including a fourth place result in 2020. On short track this season, Blaney has no top fives, Keselowski was fourth in Phoenix but no other finish better than 14th while Logano has a top six in all. Maybe this year belongs to Logano. 

They all said that they’re lacking in speed right now and don’t know if there’s enough resources available to them right now to fix it. 

Hendrick Motorsports are the ones to watch as they’ve been the opposite of SHR. They’re been great on the season but not had much luck lately in Loudon as they’ve not won there since 2012. Chase Elliott has one top five in seven New Hampshire starts. William Byron as well as Alex Bowman have each yet to score a top 10 in three tries there with Hendrick Motorsports. Their short track program this season though has seen Kyle Larson finish seventh (Phoenix), fifth (Martinsville), 18th (Richmond) and second in Dover. Elliott was fifth, second, 12th and third in the same races himself with Byron (8th, 4th, 7th, 4th) and Bowman (13th, 34th, 1st and 1st) too. 

Which gives?

What we do know is that a bigger team will likely produce the winner on Sunday. Is JGR the benefit of all of this since they’re consistently the best on this track and have been stout on short tracks this season or does SHR, Penske or Hendrick close that gap?

Chevrolet has one win in their last 14 New Hampshire starts. 


Top Stat

Just twice in the last 10 Loudon races has the driver to lead the most laps actually won the race outright.  

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