Race: ISM Connect 300
Date: Sunday September 24, 2017
Track: New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Time: 2 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper, Predictem.com
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As predicted, Martin Truex Jr. led the field to the checkered flag on Sunday at Chicagoland. This lands him a guaranteed spot into the next segment. The race saw four different drivers land out front for greater than 40 laps each. Truex led the lap that counted the most, though, with Chase Elliott and Kevin Harvick rounding out the top three. It was definitely a good start for Elliott, who really needs to get back to the top of the charts, as hes been falling off the grid in the latter portion of the season. Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson finished out the top 5 positions.
There are a few big stories going on right now. With all of the uncertainty surrounding many big names for the 2018 season, Kasey Kahne can finally say that he has a ride. He will be taking over Michal McDowells #95 ride for Leavine Family Racing. There are plenty of other switches going on, especially with car numbers in the Hendricks garage. These changes will be finalized and brought forth in the weeks to come. When it comes to penalties this past weekend, perhaps one of the more entertaining ones was watching a crew member peeling a piece of tape off of Chase Elliotts car during a recorded interview. DUDE! How stupid does it get? I mean, come on! Thats blatant right there. These guys are really going to have to re-evaluate their level of cheating if they think that they are going to get away with doing things like that. Regardless, it was obviously brought to NASCARs attention and now we have a suspended crew chief, car chief, and a loss of both 15 driver and owner points, leaving Elliott in 8th place in the standings. This is certainly not what the team needed. His second place win was encumbered as well.
This weekends race is at New Hampshire. The drivers are heading east towards Loudon, where they will race on a flatter track. The Magic Mile (dont ask me) is a 1.058 asphalt and granite oval with 2-7 degrees of variable banking in the turns and 1 degree on the straights. This is a tire track, meaning we are going to see a lot of usage from the rubber on the track. Being that its a flat track, we often see the drivers battling through many sets as the race progresses. Additionally, the drivers are going to have to stay off the walls. This is a place that with minimal banking, its easy to run out of the corners and grab the wall on the way out. Overall, New Hampshire is usually a pretty good race, giving drivers the opportunity to grab some speed, but leaving enough on the table for lap traffic to be a factor.
When it comes to picking a winner, there are several veterans to look out for, but I think that Denny Hamlin is going to come out victorious. He has done very well on the flat tracks, and this is already a track hes won at this year. Look for Denny to be the one to watch on Sunday. He will have a lot of competition from drivers like Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski. Those are my other top 2 A list drivers that should be pretty hot contenders. Truex, coming off his win from Chicago, will likely do well, but hes never won at Loudon. Hes been getting better in his last few starts, but I dont think that hes going to manage the win this weekend with these other guys battling for that guaranteed spot in the next segment. Lets take a look at your potential winners heading into this weekends race:
My Pick to Win: Denny Hamlin
Middle of the Road Pick: Clint Bowyer
Dark Horse Prediction: Daniel Suarez
Suarez is who Im going with this weekend for a Dark Horse because he had a pretty good run at Chicago. He came away 12th and has nothing to lose for the rest of the season. Gaining experience is the most important thing for him as a driver, and I think that the pressure is off at this point for him in many ways. Look for Suarez to end the season on some stronger notes. Bowyer actually has a couple of wins at Loudon. I think that he will be one to watch and a driver that really really really wants to win this season at some point. This may very well be the place for him to do it at. Again, with no Playoff pressure, Bowyer might just be a little more aggressive than he otherwise would be in order to get that win. Get YOUR ISM Connect 300 predictions down at a sportsbook that takes credit cards for deposits and that will give you a 100% bonus up to $250 in free betting tickets: Bovada Sportsbook!
Heres how the Playoff field is shaping up after Chicagoland.
Here are your current top 16 after last week’s race:
1. Martin Truex Jr.
2. Kyle Larson
3. Kevin Harvick
4. Brad Keselowski
5. Kyle Busch
6. Denny Hamlin
7. Jimmie Johnson
8. Chase Elliott
9. Matt Kenseth
10. Ryan Blaney
11. Jamie McMurray
12. Austin Dillon
13. Kurt Busch
14. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
15. Kasey Kahne
16. Ryan Newman
Busch, Stenhouse, Kahne, and Newman have their work cut out for them. Stenhouse had a very rough weekend at Chicagoland as did Ryan Newman. They are really going to have to do some big things at Loudon to try and secure their spot in the next segment. With only 2 more races before the next segment, even Austin Dillon should really be cautious. Stage points are great, but at this point, the drivers really need to go for the win. Stay tuned as we head to New Hampshire this weekend to see if we can come away with another new winner to secure their spot in the next segment of the Chase!