The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will travel to Loudon, New Hampshire this week for the New Hampshire 301.
New Hampshire is a 1-mile oval track without much banking in the corners. It is called the Magic Mile and there are many features of this race the support the nickname. The race is 301 miles long and usually that extra mile comes into play. Teams will try to gamble on fuel mileage and it is surprising how many times drivers cup up one lap short.
Track position will be important this week. Passing cars is difficult at New Hampshire so selecting drivers who start up front will be important. They will have the advantage not only on the track, but with the premium pit stalls as well.
There have been 11 different winners in the last 11 races at the New Hampshire. That does not mean that some drivers have not figured out how to conquer the Magic Mile. Drivers need to find the perfect rhythm to get in and out of the corners. The best drivers have been Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch.
Here are my picks for the New Hampshire 301.
Yahoo Group A Picks
Fantasy teams should not have a problem finding a good choice in Group A of Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing this week. Most of the drivers who have run well at New Hampshire are from this group. This will be a great chance for fantasy teams to take a break from using Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson and use allocations with some drivers they have not used much this season.
Matt Kenseth is the best option this week if you want to play it safe and use the driver with a good chance to finish up front and has little risk of having a poor race. Kenseth has the third-best driver rating and the fourth-best average finish position at New Hampshire. He has finished four of the last five races at the track in the top 10.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is my sleeper pick in Group A. He has not always been good at the Magic Mile, but Earnhardt has found success in his last three races at the track (Finished each race in the top 10). Earnhardt is having a great season and it will continue Sunday.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group A.
I thought coming into the 2015 season that Busch would benefit the most from the changes to the car. He has been the best driver in the Xfinity Series and now that the cars are similar, he is rising to the top of the Sprint Cup Series. No driver is hotter than Busch right now. He has won two of the last three races as the series heads to one of his best tracks.
Busch has the second-highest driver rating and the second-best average finish position in the last four races at New Hampshire. He has finished three of the last four races at the Magic Mile in second place. Do not be surprised to see Busch make it back-to-back wins this week.
Keselowski has not dominated the series this season like he did at this time in 2014, but this part of the schedule is his best tracks. Keselowski has a series-best driver rating and the third-best average finish position in the last four races at New Hampshire. Last year Keselowski started seventh and led 138 laps on his way to Victory Lane. He could duplicate that success Sunday.
Other good choices: Matt Kenseth,Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Denny Hamlin
Yahoo Group B Picks
What should I do with Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Kasey Kahne has become a popular question from fantasy players this season. Although these three drivers are the best options in Group B each week, I suggest selecting different drivers for the race Sunday. There are other drivers from this group who could run very well this week.
My sleeper pick for Group B is Austin Dillon. He has only competed in two races at the track in the Sprint Cup Series but he finished both inside the top 15. Dillon also finished two of his three races in the Xfinity Series at New Hampshire in the top five. This is a good week to take a chance with the No. 3 car.
Here are the four drivers I selected for Group B.
Larson has run well this season, but he has had a hard time finishing races. He always seems to struggle in the final laps. If he is going to get to Victory Lane in 2015 it could happen this week.
Larson had a series-best average finish position in the two races at the track last season. He started 13th and finished third in the summer race and started 10th and finished second in the fall race. This is a great week to use an allocation with the No. 42 team.
McMurray may not be a popular pick this week, but he should be. Chip Ganassi Racing knows how to get around the Monster Mile. McMurray has the fifth-best average finish position and the eighth-best driver rating in the last for races at the track. McMurray started second and finished fourth in the last race at New Hampshire. It would be great if he had the same type of race Sunday.
The new rules package last week at Kentucky benefited Edwards the most. He had the best run of his 2015 season. I thought about saving him for the 1.5-mile tracks, but I think Joe Gibbs Racing will dominate the race Sunday. Edwards will be one of the drivers to watch.
Edwards did not run very well in this race last year. He finished 13th in the summer race and 17th in the fall race. It should be a lot different since he is no longer with Roush Fenway Racing. Edwards has proved he can run well at the Magic Mile when he has a fast car. The No. 19 car will be fast and Edwards will run in the top 10 this week.
Bowyer has not been able to qualify up front or run in the top 10 in many races this season. What he has been able to do is find his way to the front at the end of the race. That is all that matters in fantasy NASCAR. Bowyer has finished four of the last six races in the top 10. Now the series will compete at one of his best tracks.
Bowyer has two wins and seven finishes in the top-10 at New Hampshire. Last year he started eighth and finished sixth while leading 36 laps in the race. The No. 15 team needs to swing for the fences to win a race and make the Chase. Do not be surprised to see them gamble in the pits and try to finish up front once again.
Other Good Choices: Martin Truex Jr.,Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne and Greg Biffle
Yahoo Group C Picks
There are not many good picks in Group C this week. Danica Patrick and David Ragan must be considered for each race and Ryan Blaney is entered in the race again this week. The problem will Blaney is that he has never raced at this track before and if qualifying gets rained out he will be the driver sent home. That makes the No. 21 team a risky pick this week.
My sleeper pick for Group C is Justin Allgaier. He has been running just outside the top 20 and should have the same results Sunday. Last year Allgaier qualified 24th and finished 20th in this race. Most fantasy teams would be happy with a 20th-place finish from their Group C driver.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group C.
Ragan is starting to find his groove with his new team at Michael Waltrip racing. The last two races have been two of his best since joining the team. It may be wise to save Ragan until the Chase because he will have even more experience with his team, but it will be hard with so few options this week in Group C.
Ragan has an average finish position at New Hampshire of 25.88. That stat is misleading because he has not always been in fast cars. Michael Waltrip Racing knows how to setup a car for the Magic Mile. Ragan should be able to finish inside the top 20 this week.
After a good start to the 2015 season Patrick has seemed to hit a slump. She has finished the last three races outside the top 20. Those races (Sonoma, Daytona and Kentucky) were not her best tracks. I look for Patrick to get back on track this week and run well at New Hampshire. She started 18th and finished 19th in the last race at the track. I expect similar results from her Sunday.
Other Good Choices: Justin Allgaier and Ryan Blaney
Fantasy Live Picks
The best strategy for Fantasy Live this week will be to select drivers who start up front with a good chance to lead many laps. Fantasy teams can check the qualifying positions and the practice speeds on nascar.com to help determine who these drivers may be. There will be 150.5 bonus points available this week since there are 301 laps in the race Sunday. Fantasy teams who select the drivers who lead the most laps will dominate their leagues.
Here are the five drivers I selected for Fantasy Live for the race at New Hampshire:
Driver 1: Brad Keselowski $26.50
Driver 2: Denny Hamlin $25.75
Driver 3: Kyle Busch $25.50
Driver 4: Austin Dillon $15.75
Driver 5: Michael Annett $6.00
Pick to Win: Kyle Busch
* Driver prices based on prices at Kentucky
Fox Fantasy Racing
The strategy for Fox Fantasy Racing is to select drivers who qualify in the back with a good opportunity to move to the front and at least two drivers who start in the front. This games rewards drivers for making their way through traffic in the race, but track position is too important this week to focus only on drivers in the back of the field. A balance of drivers in the back and front will put your team at the top of the standings Sunday.
Here are my selections for Fox Fantasy Racing for New Hampshire:
Driver 1: Jimmie Johnson $12,700
Driver 2: Matt Kenseth $11,100
Driver 3: Brad Keselowski $10,000
Driver 4: Kyle Larson $8,100
Driver 5: Kyle Busch $6,000
* Driver prices based on prices at Kentucky