This is setting up to be an interesting race on Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. It all started with Alex Bowman blowing an engine during qualifying on Friday, which will cause him to start from the rear (and be scored from there–his official qualifying spot was 37th). He then wrecked again in practice on Saturday, and the #88 team had to borrow the backup car from teammate Jimmie Johnson. Add in Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman, Kyle Larson, and William Byron all having issues requiring backup cars, and we have a ton of good cars starting at the back on Sunday. Please note that Hamlin, Newman, Larson, and Byron will also all be scored from their qualifying spot on Friday, which were: 23rd, 26th, 15th, and 22nd (respectively).
Click here for the starting lineup for this weekend’s race at Loudon. Also if you’d like to analyze the results from Saturday’s first practice, you can do so by clicking here. For speeds from the second practice (Happy Hour), click here.
*Please note: the picks and suggestions below are my opinions and strategy for the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. These are not meant to sway your thinking in any way, but rather give you insight into the drivers I am most likely to pick on Sunday.*
Loudon Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 Slingshot Picks
Kyle Busch ($13,000) – Yes, Kyle Busch starts 2nd, and yes I know how important place differential points are in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest, but the #18 Toyota is the best car heading into Sunday and Rowdy can still get me a ton of points with Stage wins and leading the most laps. Kyle is a constant threat at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and has actually finished 3rd or better in seven of his last eleven starts here. Yeah, just ridiculous. I wouldn’t blame you for jumping down and grabbing Martin Truex, Jr. ($12,800) here instead, as he probably has the 2nd-best car and has a little more room for place differential starting 6th, but I plan on rolling with Kyle Busch here on Sunday.
Denny Hamlin ($11,100) – This one is just a no-brainer. Denny Hamlin wrecked his primary car on Friday before qualifying but was still able to go out and make a lap so his official starting spot will be 23rd even though he will go to the rear on the pace laps. Still, Hamlin is great at New Hampshire Motor Speedway–he actually has the best average finish here of any active driver at 10.2–and was 2nd-fastest in Happy Hour practice on Saturday with the 10th-best ten-lap average. Momentum-wise, this #11 team have three finishes of 6th or better in the last six Cup Series races overall, and Denny came home 5th at Phoenix and Richmond earlier this year, which are both somewhat-similar flat tracks. I’d be surprised if the #11 Toyota ends up outside of the top 10 here on Sunday.
Alex Bowman ($10,600) – Third time is a charm, right? Alex Bowman has had an awful weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway already and has trashed two cars before the actual green flag. Does that concern me, though? Not really. I still think Bowman is a solid top 20 car heading into Sunday, and with how much place differential points play a factor into the scores of this Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest, it’s really hard to pass up those ‘easy’ points. Of course, there’s always the possibility of the #88 Chevrolet hitting the wall again on Sunday, so you could take the strategic route here and maybe go with someone like Ryan Blaney ($10,500), who starts up front (5th) but looks to have a really good race car that should get Stage points. Bowman did finish 11th here last year, though, and wound up 14th in the previous New Hampshire start before 2018, but again, if you’re a strategic player, we all know he’s going to be super high-owned on Sunday and that opens the door for alternate plays…
Ryan Newman ($9,100) – Ryan Newman has always been considered one of the better short track racers in the series, and when you combine that skill with this newfound momentum that this #6 team has–four top 10s in the last five races!–it’s hard not to like Newman in NASCAR fantasy leagues this weekend, even if he’s starting in the back. The thing is, as long as you have a halfway decent car, you’re going to be able to make your way through the field on Sunday, and with the advantage of the Stage cautions, that gives these guys starting in the back even more of a buffer to stay on the lead lap. As far as Loudon goes specifically, Newman is a three-time winner here and ended up 6th in this race last season. That’s his fifth finish of 11th or better in the last nine races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Speed-wise, Newman was just 19th-fastest in Practice #2 on Saturday morning but had the 11th-best ten-lap average, and then during Happy Hour he ranked 22nd and 17th on those two charts (respectively). The good news is that Newman’s teammate, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., showed much more speed than that, and Newman is one of those guys who seems to race much better than he practices. I’m expecting a top 15 finish out of “The Rocketman” on Sunday, if not a top 10.
Ryan Preece ($6,200) – This is just a low-cost, low-risk option here. One thing I do like about Ryan Preece is how A.J. Allmendinger was able to wheel this #47 Chevrolet into some decent finishes here at New Hampshire, so hopefully Preece can keep it off the call come Sunday. Speed-wise, this car was mid-20s at best during the practice sessions on Saturday, but you never know how these races are going to play out. Like I said, Preece is a low-risk option, as he starts back in 28th so can really only get negative fantasy points if he wrecks out. One good thing is that Preece has seemed to perform better on the shorter tracks this year, including a 16th-place finish at Martinsville and a 20th-place finish at Richmond.