NASCAR has its lone date in the northeastern United States this weekend with the running of the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 from New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The one-mile oval is located about 80 miles northwest of Boston and has been a mainstay on the Cup Series schedule since 1993.
One of the flattest tracks on the circuit, NHMS has variable banking that’s only 2 to 7 degrees in the turns. That, combined with a narrow groove, makes this facility one of the hardest to pass at. Track position is crucial for a race that typically produces long green-flag runs and occasionally a fuel-mileage finish.
Once again, NASCAR chose its off-track qualifying formula in the midst of COVID-19 policies remaining in place for 2021. That means the lineup was calculated using the following qualifying metric.
50% of the metric is based on finishing position from the previous race (split between driver and owner).
35% of the metric is the team’s current position in the NASCAR Cup Series owner point standings.
15% of the metric is based on the team’s fastest lap during the previous race.
The team with the lowest total starts on the pole, then the next lowest, etc. until all available spots are filled. It’s the best compromise NASCAR could make while attempting to limit each team’s at-track time and respecting COVID-19 restrictions still in place. It also means cars will not hit the track for a single lap until the green flag drops on the race Sunday afternoon (July 18, 3 PM ET, NBCSN).
Only 37 cars entered the race at New Hampshire, leaving the 40-car grid three short. It’s again tied for the smallest field of the year as only the 36 teams who have guaranteed spots are entered along with the “open” car of JTG Daugherty Racing (Ryan Preece, No. 37).
1. Kyle Busch
2. Martin Truex Jr.
3. Chase Elliott
4. Kurt Busch
5. Alex Bowman
6. Denny Hamlin
7. Ryan Blaney
8. Tyler Reddick
9. Christopher Bell
10. Kyle Larson
11. Brad Keselowski
12. Kevin Harvick
13. Austin Dillon
14. Matt DiBenedetto
15. Joey Logano
16. William Byron
17. Chris Buescher
18. Bubba Wallace
19. Chase Briscoe (R)
20. Ross Chastain
21. Cole Custer
22. Aric Almirola
23. Michael McDowell
24. Erik Jones
25. Ryan Preece
26. Corey LaJoie
27. Anthony Alfredo (R)
28. Ryan Newman
29. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
30. Justin Haley (i)
31. Daniel Suarez
32. BJ McLeod (i)
33. Garrett Smithley (i)
34. Cody Ware (i)
35. Josh Bilicki
36. Quin Houff
37. James Davison
(R) – Rookie
(i) – Ineligible to collect Cup Series points
- Kyle Busch (pole) starts up front for the first time this season. He’s seeking his first win at New Hampshire since 2017.
- Martin Truex Jr. (2nd) has never won a race at New Hampshire in 27 career starts.
- Chase Elliott (3rd) is the highest-qualifying Chevrolet. He’ll be flying in late Saturday night after racing the SRX season finale against his father at the Nashville Fairgrounds (8 p.m. ET, CBS).
- Kurt Busch (4th) is seeking back-to-back Cup wins for the first time since 2002.
- Denny Hamlin (6th) enters this race as the Cup point leader by 10 over Kyle Larson.
- Ryan Blaney (7th) is the highest-qualifying Ford.
- Tyler Reddick (8th) is now the driver on the NASCAR playoff cutline. He holds a 96-point margin over Chris Buescher for the final spot.
- Brad Keselowski (11th) is the defending winner of this race.
- Chase Briscoe (19th) is the highest-qualifying rookie.
- James Davison (37th) replaces Bayley Currey this week in the Rick Ware Racing No. 15 Chevrolet. Davison is running a limited schedule for Ware’s team this season.
NASCAR Race Breakdown
Race: Foxwoods Resort Casino 301
Track: New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Loudon, N.H.)
Date: Sunday, July 18
TV: NBCSN, 3 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SIRIUS XM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 301 laps (301 miles)
Stage 1: 75 Laps
Stage 2: 110 Laps
Final Stage: 116 Laps
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Sheldon Creed stops by the Frontstretch Podcast to chat about a potential move to the Xfinity Series next season. Then, host Davey Segal joins Tom Bowles to preview the upcoming weekend of racing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway while revisiting Kurt Busch’s surprise victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway last weekend.