Who will top the NASCAR field at New Hampshire?
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series winds its way to Loudon, New Hampshire, this week for Sunday’s (July 22) Foxwoods Resort Casino 301. The green flag at 1.058-mile New Hampshire Motor Speedway flies at 1 p.m. ET on NBCSN. The originial start time was 2 p.m. ET but it was moved up due to the threat of rain in the forecast.
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FanDuel has put more emphasis on finishing position than other DFS sites. For this reason, FanDuel allows you to look at the entire field instead of just dominators and big movers.
Also, with only 0.1 points awarded for each lap led by a driver, the need for a dominator is less important when building a winning lineup. The 301-lap race will only have a total of 20.1 points up for grabs in this category. Take note when building your roster and focus on mid-pack drivers who can climb up toward the front on race day.
ELITE TIER: $10,600 and up
Martin Truex Jr. ($12,700)
New Hampshire: 24 starts, five top fives, 10 top 10s
Average finish at New Hampshire: 12.9
Truex has been one of the most dominant drivers at New Hampshire over the past four races but has yet to find Victory Lane. During that span, Truex has led more than 100 laps in every race. He finished inside the top five in both events in 2017 and is the early favorite this weekend coming off a win at Kentucky.
Kyle Busch ($12,500)
New Hampshire: 26 starts, three wins, 10 top fives, 14 top 10s
Average finish at New Hampshire: 13.2
Busch is the last Cup driver to win at New Hampshire. He started on the pole last September and led 187 of the 301 laps. It was his third career win at the track, putting him in a tie for first among all active MENCS drivers. On top of that, he leads the same group in laps led at the track; second place is over 250 laps behind.
With Busch starting third Sunday he needs to be a lineups lock. Once he has track position at New Hampshire, he rarely loses it.
Denny Hamlin ($11,500)
New Hampshire: 24 starts, three wins, nine top fives, 14 top 10s
Average finish at New Hampshire: 10.1
Hamlin has yet to win and lock himself into the NASCAR playoffs this season. A rough two-week stretch, including a 38th-place finish at Daytona leaves him the forgotten man at Joe Gibbs Racing.
However, the same could easily be said heading into this race a year ago. It was then Hamlin broke through with his first win of 2017 last July at New Hampshire.
This veteran is known as one of the best smaller-track racers in the series and this 1.058-mile oval plays right into his strengths. He is $1,000 cheaper than the “top” drivers and is a great value play.
Kyle Larson ($11,000)
New Hampshire: Eight starts, four top fives, five top 10s
Average finish at New Hampshire: 10.5
Larson has been fantastic at New Hampshire since his MENCS debut there back in 2014. In his first two races at the track as a rookie, he finished third and second.
Last July, Larson won the pole but had it stripped away due to failing post-qualifying inspection. He then climbed from 39th to a second-place finish. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver followed that up with another second-place result in September.
Larson has quickly become a favorite at the New England racetrack. Expect the top Chevrolet driver this season to sneak into contention once again.
ALL-STAR TIER: $8,900 - $10,500
Jimmie Johnson ($9,200)
New Hampshire: 32 starts, three wins, 10 top fives, 21 top 10s
Average finish at New Hampshire: 10.6
Johnson has three wins at New Hampshire, but his most recent was back in 2010. That said, he has still run strong during what's now an eight-year victory drought. He is sporting a 10.6 average finish over 32 career starts and has 21 career top 10s here.
Johnson started on the front row in this race last July but had to make an early-race pit stop due to an on-track penalty. He managed to fight his way back up to a 10th-place finish, followed up by a respectable 14th in the fall.
The No. 48 team has, by no means, been a weekly contender for wins this season. But Johnson has run well at tracks where the driver outweighs the equipment. He has three top 10s so far this season on tracks a mile or less and should be able to add to that total Sunday.
Daniel Suarez ($9,000)
New Hampshire: Two starts, two top 10s
Average finish at New Hampshire: 7.0
Suarez has had an almost Larson-esque start to his New Hampshire career, figuring out how to run well at the track in such a short period of time. In his MENCS debut last July, he started 14th and climbed his way to sixth. Last fall, he started back in 25th but jumped to eighth.
Suarez, despite some poor luck, has shown flashes of brilliance at times this season. This race could be another strong performance for the sophomore driver.
BARGAIN TIER: $8,800 and below
Matt Kenseth ($8,600)
New Hampshire: 36 starts, three wins, 12 top fives, 21 top 10s
Average finish at New Hampshire: 11.6
Kenseth won’t have the success we are used to seeing him have at New Hampshire but he could still be a sneaky play this weekend. He currently has a five-race streak of finishes inside the top four at the track.
The move back to Roush Fenway Racing has clearly been a tough one; he has yet to earn a top-10 finish driving the No. 6 car. But, much like Johnson, New Hampshire could play more into Kenseth's hands. He is one of the best to ever strap in at this track and such experience can only help.
Austin Dillon ($7,500)
New Hampshire: Eight starts, one top 10
Average finish at New Hampshire: 14.8
Dillon has five top-15 finishes in his eight career starts at New Hampshire. His career best run of eighth came way back in 2015.
However, in six of those eight starts, Dillon ran better than his qualifying position. Although the finishes aren’t necessarily flashy, at a price tag of $7,500, he would allow salary relief needed to stash two or even three of the top-tier drivers into a lineup.
(Top photo courtesy of ASP, Inc.)