Sylvania 300 fantasy NASCAR preview

by Bob Frykholm on September 11, 2008 @ 15:09:00 PDT

 


New Hampshire Motor Speedway is basically a mile track on which drivers have difficulty passing other racers. The shorter length causes many lapped drivers to hang out at the bottom of the track, creating an almost impossible passing environment. When the faster drivers can't maneuver around the slower racers it encourages aggressive driving. Look for plenty of bumping as the drivers try to pass. Combine this with it being the first race of the Chase and fans will be rewarded with some of the best racing NASCAR has to offer.

Twelve drivers compete for the Chase. All drivers begin with 5,000 points plus an additional 10 points awarded for each victory prior to the Chase. Kyle Busch leads the drivers with 5,080 points followed by Carl Edwards with 5,060. Look for renewed feuds to spill over to the track this weekend. This is it, race fans. Rev up those engines.

Location: Loudon, N.H.
Shape: Oval
Length: 1.058 miles
Laps: 300
Banking: 12-degree turns; 2-degree straights

Table: Do not bench

Kyle Busch Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Jimmie Johnson Tony Stewart
Matt Kenseth Jeff Gordon
Kevin Harvick Denny Hamlin
Carl Edwards Jeff Burton

Leading the Pack

Ryan Newman | No. 12 Kodak Dodge | Penske Racing

After Newman's victory at Daytona, his season more or less unraveled. Newman still is one of the top drivers in NASCAR and drivers need to contend with his presence on the track. Fans need to take note: He runs well at New Hampshire and has two victories there. He ran fairly well on his last visit to the track finishing 15th. His average finish is 11.4 with nine top-10 and five top-five finishes. Don't be mistaken by only looking to the drivers who will compete in the Chase. Take a hard look at Newman when filling out your lineup.

Reed Sorenson | No. 41 Target Dodge | Chip Ganassi Racing

Sorenson began the season impressively finishing fifth in the Daytona 500 race. Since the strong start Sorenson has not had much success. His season's average finish this year is 28.0 versus an average finish of 17.4 at New Hampshire. He has only run five times at New Hampshire, but he finished very strongly in the earlier race this year with a sixth-place run. Sorenson is a driver who has comfort levels at specific tracks, and his strong showing at Loudon earlier this year indicates that he is poised for another good run. Last season he finished 22nd in the standings and this year he sits in 29th position. Look for him to run a solid race this week.

Brian Vickers | No. 83 Red Bull Toyota | Red Bull Racing

Vickers has proven that he can run competitively this season, even though he failed to qualify for the Chase. At New Hampshire he has a fair amount of experience having run nine times with an average finish of 17.9, with no victories. He has a top-five finish, though, and has run competitively in all but two of his races. He finished 16th in his last race without leading a lap. His 15th-place showing this season fell a bit short of expectations, but in six top-10 finishes there he has shown that he can run strong races. Don't underestimate Vickers when you pick your drivers for New Hampshire.

Greg Biffle | No. 16 DISH Network Ford | Roush Fenway Racing

Biffle is another driver who has been running strong races late into the season. He is tied for eighth in the Chase with 5,000 points. Last week he finished 14th locking in qualification. Biffle can be a streaky driver; his average finish for the last four races is 7.8. Biffle's record at New Hampshire has been inconsistent. He has run at New Hampshire 12 times with an average finish of 19.5. He has four top-10 finishes, but no victories. In his last race there he finished 21st.

Kurt Busch | No. 2 Miller Lite Ford | Penske Racing

Kurt Busch has run 15 times at New Hampshire. His average finish at New Hampshire is 16.1 along with six top-10 finishes and one DNF. However, consider that he has taken the checkered flag three times at this track. More importantly one of those victories came on his last visit. Prior to that race he had not run that strongly in his prior five races, averaging 27.6 in finishes. There is no substitute for victories making Busch a driver you don't want to ignore this week.

Drivers to Keep an Eye On

Kasey Kahne | No. 9 Budweiser Dodge | Gillett Evernham Motorsports

New Hampshire is not a track that Kahne has won on. His average finish of 17.2 in nine starts is not bad when you compare it to the other analyzed drivers. He has four top-10 finishes and one DNF. In his last running at New Hampshire he placed 30th. Kahne fell just short of qualifying for the Chase finishing 13th. Preventing him from qualification were back to back 40th-place finishes three and four races ago, as well as a 19th-place finish in his last race. Kahne can never be counted out. He might just bring a chip on shoulder to the track this week. Picking Kahne is advised.

Bobby Labonte | No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker/Totino's Dodge | Petty Enterprises

New Hampshire is a track that Labonte knows very well. He has run here 27 times with a respectable average finish of 15.3. He has 10 top-10 finishes but has never won at New Hampshire. He ran a very good race with his last visit at New Hampshire, finishing with a top-10 finish of 10th in the LENOX Industrial Tools 301. Labonte did not qualify for the Chase by coming in at 20th. He quietly runs consistent races and typically avoids accidents, which is a real plus at this track. Based on his last finish and experience, Labonte is a driver you should pay close attention to at New Hampshire.

Casey Mears | No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Chevrolet | Hendrick Motorsports

Mears has not had the year most experts expected. His 24th-place ranking at the end of 26 races is difficult to understand given his strengths and his team affiliation. He has 11 starts at New Hampshire. He has two top-10 finishes, without a victory. In those 11 starts, Mears has an average finish of 20.4 and no DNFs. What is notable is the last two times, Mears has raced at this track has resulted in back to back top-10 finishes. Mears will probably be overlooked due to his disappointing season, but don't fall into that same trap. Mears is poised to have a strong run this week.

Elliott Sadler | No. 19 Best Buy Dodge | Gillett Evernham Motorsports

New Hampshire is a track that Sadler has not had much success with. He has raced at New Hampshire for a total of 19 times in his career, with an average finish of 21.1. However, in his last visit Sadler had one of his two top-five finishes of the season placing fifth. This has not been the season he had hoped for. He missed the cut for the Chase and was ranked 22nd after the first 26 races. Even though Sadler not qualify for the Chase, he has shown that he can run strong at this track. Based on his last running, Sadler could be a dark horse to have a quality showing.

Juan Pablo Montoya | No. 42 Juicy Fruit Slim Pack Dodge | Chip Ganassi Racing

Montoya has run only three times at New Hampshire, without any strong showings. Since he has run at the track only three times, an accurate measurement of his abilities is difficult to gage. His average finish is 24.7 without a single DNF. Many experts had anticipated Montoya making significant progress this season given his tremendous promise. He currently is in 21st place in the rankings, failing to make the Chase. Many believe that this is a track that he can win at. Selecting Montoya at New Hampshire should be based on his impressive talent. Looking for a driver that could surprise many? Montoya could be your man.

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About Bob Frykholm

Frykholm has been a KFFL contributor since February 2008.

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