Race: Lenox Industrial Tools 301
Date: July 17, 2011
Track: New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Time: 1 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Analyst, Predictem.com
The inaugural race at Kentucky on Saturday night was lackluster in comparison to what a lot of critics, including myself, thought. To be honest, it did not live up to the hype that we thought it would nor did it live up to the excitement brought in by the Camping World Truck Series or the Nationwide Series. Kyle Busch easily grabbed the win, pushing him into the points lead.
This weekend, however, we are heading to a Sprint Cup staple at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. This track is notable for little tire wear issues. At just over a mile, this oval can almost be considered a short track. It was variable degree banking from 2 to 7 degrees in the turns and 1 degree banking in the turns. Both the frontstretch and the backstretch come in at 1500 feet.
The think about Loudon is that it is a short track with a superspeedway mentality in terms of aerodynamics. While we don’t usually see aerodynamics play such a large role at a shorter track of this nature, Loudon is different because of the nature of the sharp turns and relatively decent-sized straights. Drivers do their best to keep their car bodies in one piece here, unlike the short tracks of Bristol, Richmond, and Martinsville where bumping is the norm. On this track, you’ll also see teams set the cars up with a loose rear end to negotiate the tight turns and keep the cars from getting too tight and sliding to the walls. Additionally, tire wear is not a huge issue here, as previously mentioned. While there are always good times for a new set of tires, this track lends itself to long runs on old tires, leaving drivers to pit on fuel strategy more so than tire strategy.
Loudon has a wide array of winners. We have seen everyone from the RCR team to the Roush team to the Hendrick team take wins here. Clint Bowyer in the defending champ of this race. I think that we are going to see a battle between Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch though. This is Hamlin’s type of track and he simply runs strong on these types. He’s had a decent year and should be able to turn in a strong run if not a win this weekend. Kurt Busch is another one to watch. He’s at his best point he’s been at this year and keeps getting stronger. Some others to watch are Jimmie Johnson and last week’s winner, Kyle Busch because, well, it’s Kyle Busch. All in all though, I think that Hamlin will take the win. He does well on long runs, few pit stops and maintaining track position.
Here are your current top 10 after Kentucky:
1. Kyle Busch
2. Carl Edwards
3. Kevin Harvick
4. Kurt Busch
5. Jimmie Johnson
6. Matt Kenseth
7. Jeff Gordon
8. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
9. Ryan Newman
10. Denny Hamlin
Tony Stewart and Clint Bowyer hold the 11th and 12th positions and need to get some wins in if they expect to get a wild card spot. Jr. needs to finish strong as well and bring back his consistency. That tire blowout on Saturday killed him. Kyle Busch has moved in to be your points leader while Kevin Harvick dropped 2 spots to third.
Loudon is sure to be a better race, in my opinion, than Kentucky was. I’m sure that we will see some better racing in the years to come when the drivers and teams get used to the new speedway and how it changes as the night goes on. Loudon, however, is a staple on the series and sure to bring some excitement this weekend.
Virginia’s Prediction to Win: Denny Hamlin.