Race: Camping World RV Sales 301 Predictions to Win
Date: Sunday July 13, 2014
Track: New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Time: 1 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper, Predictem.com
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Daytona certainly proved to be a wild ride. Although we didn’t get a full race in, that was
probably a good thing since a good majority of the field wrecked. Aric Almirola took home
the win, bringing the No. 43 car to victory lane for the first time since 1999. Almirola and
his team used some serious strategy to get to the front of the pack and to stay there,
while many teams took the risk of assuming the whole race would be run. Unfortunately for
them, the race was cut short by a good number of laps. There were also a couple of very
significant wrecks. The first occurred after Jeff Gordon came down on the quarter panel
of Tony Stewart’s car after anticipating a move by Rick Stenhouse Jr. Although Stewart
didn’t see it that way, it was clear that Stenhouse got loose off the turn, but he
managed to save his car. From the looks of it, Gordon didn’t think that Stenhouse would be
able to save it and dipped low, catching Stewart’s quarter panel and causing quite a wreck.
While he did get loose, credit needs to be given to Stenhouse for saving his ride. Gordon
may have inadvertently caused the wreck, but Daytona is a track where anticipation is key.
Should Gordon have chosen to not make that move, there’s no telling what could’ve happened,
although the wreck was not the best result regardless. It’s always easy to say what we
would’ve done or what the driver should’ve done sitting behind the tv screen or from the
stands at the track, but only the driver is actually capable of making that decision at the
precise moment it needs to be made.
This weekend, hopefully we will outrun the rain. We are headed to a track that is much
different from Daytona. New Hampshire Motor Speedway is track that is a little over a mile
long at 1.06 miles. The banking in the turns is 12 degrees with the straights coming in at
1 degree. This is a track that races very much like a short track. This is a race where
the drivers feel like they are at Martinsville. The banking is very similar, although New
Hampshire is twice the length.
When it comes down to this track, it is a place that mirrors the necessity of Daytona when
it comes to track position. We saw that all last weekend as drivers were fighting to get
to the front and stay at the front of the pack. At New Hampshire, the clean air won’t mean
as much as it does at Daytona, but track position is still going to be the key to winning
this one. THe biggest challenge to this will, again, be the battle off pit road. Pit
crews are going to make or break it for a lot of these teams. The decision will be
primarily whether or not to take 2 tires, 4 tires, or to take fuel and go. We saw that
even though some drivers took 2 tires or even no tires last week, they were still able to
stay up front. My prediction is that it is going to be a little bit more difficult to do
that this weekend. New Hampshire is a track where traffic is going to be a problem.
Because of that, I can’t imagine that risking a no-tire stop is going to be a great move.
With that, let’s move on to the potential winners this weekend. Daytona was a bit of an
anomoly. While Almirola arguably had the best strategy, I don’t really think that he is
one to beat this week. We should move back to our typical front runners like the Busch
brothers, Keselowski, Gordon, and Johnson. Watch for Hamlin and Stewart to be up there as
well. Overall, I’m going with Johnson, though. With 3 wins and his overall record here,
he is going to be sitting atop of the leaderboard for a good portion of the day, and even
more importantly, at the end when it counts the most. Teammate Jeff Gordon also has 3
wins, but with his last coming in 1998, this place hasn’t been his best friend in recent
history. Let’s take a look at your list of potential winners this weekend:
My Pick to Win: Jimmie Johnson
Middle of the Road Pick: Tony Stewart
Dark Horse Prediction: Ryan Newman
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Newman has 7 poles here at New Hampshire. With qualifying up front being such an important commodity, I’d imagine that if he can do that then he’s in a good position to stay there.
Overall, he’s having a very good season, so look for him to actually be in contention this
weekend. Tony Stewart is another good pick for New Hampshire. He’s also got 3 wins here
and a bucketful of top 10 finishes. With his experience and overall success here, look for
Stewart to be a frontrunner.
Daytona did a number on the points this week. Let’s take a look at where everyone stands
after the craziness that is Daytona:
Here are your current top 16 after last week’s race:
1. Jeff Gordon
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
3. Jimmie Johnson
4. Brad Keselowski
5. Matt Kenseth
6. Joey Logano
7. Carl Edwards
8. Ryan Newman
9. Kyle Busch
10. Paul Menard
11. Kevin Harvick
12. Clint Bowyer
13. Austin Dillon
14. Denny Hamlin
15. Greg Biffle
16. Brian Vickers
Hamlin bumped 3 positions into 14th, with Dillon bumping 5 positions to stick 13th place.
What we really have to watch more closely now are those last few positions where drivers
without a win are currently competing. As it stands, we have 5 positions left to fill the
top 16 because there have only been 11 winners thus far. If we were to fill those
positions right now, it would consist of Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Paul Menard, Clint
Bowyer, and Austin Dillon. That leaves out drivers like Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne, and
Tony stewart. Overall, though, it seems like the points are playing out relatively fairly.
Aric Almirola is the only driver that I truly question about being part of the Chase. But
if I argue that point, we have to consider that Kurt Busch is also in the Chase and he is
behind Almirola in points altogether. I guess we will have to wait and see how New Hampshire plays out for these drivers. It’s getting pretty competitive as everyone tries to get the most points and still drive for wins to secure those few last open spots for the Chase for the Sprint Cup!