Race: Sylvania 300
Date: Sunday, September 23, 2012
Track: New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Time: 1 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper, Predictem.com
So Jeff Gordon managed to drive into the Chase but just barely. He managed to have a mechanical failure this past weekend at Chicago, making his race to the top that much harder. Gordon had a stuck throttle into a turn and hit the wall hard. That’s something I don’t wish on any driver. What a shame and something that is such a freak thing to happen, especially in the Hendrick garage. Gordon is hoping for better luck as we head into New Hampshire this weekend.
The Chase drivers all did relatively well, with the exception of Denny Hamlin, who was running strong until running out of fuel on the last lap. This weekend should prove to be a better weekend for him, though, as New Hampshire is always a place that he can win at.
This track is just over a mile long. New Hampshire has variable banking from 9 to 7 degrees in the turns. The straights have a very slight banking at just 1 degree. This true oval is 1500 feet on both the backstretch and the frontstretch. One of the major issues at this track is tires. These guys are going to have some tire strategies going on because tires can really make or break a run for a driver at Loudon. Track position is always very important here, although tires play a huge role in that. We are going to see some 2-tire stops, some 4-tire stops, and some strategy to go along with the fuel game that inevitably happens here.
Let’s go ahead and take a look at winners for New Hampshire, I’m going with Chase contender Denny Hamlin. He’s a strong contender. Although he only has one win here, he’s always a strong car. Coming off the heartbreak of running out of fuel last weekend, I think that he’s going to be coming in strong with a lot to prove. Most are actually saying that Denny is the one to beat for the championship, in fact. Other guys to watch are going to be Ryan Newman, Martin Truex Jr., and Tony Stewart. Both Truex and Stewart are also contending alongside Hamlin for the championship, so that is going to be an interesting battle. Here’s the full rundown for potential winners this weekend:
Pick to Win: Denny Hamlin
Middle of the Road Pick: Martin Truex Jr.
Dark Horse: Ryan Newman
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Newman historically runs well here. It’s one of his best tracks. It’s also Truex’s home track, so he always wants to please here.
The drivers are still relatively tight in the points. With the exception of Gordon in 12th spot, it’s still anyone’s game. Here are your current top 12 after Chicago:
1. Brad Keselowski
2. Jimmie Johnson
3. Tony Stewart
4. Denny Hamlin
5. Kasey Kahne
6. Clint Bowyer
7. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
8. Greg Biffle
9. Martin Truex Jr.
10. Kevin Harvick
11. Matt Kenseth
12. Jeff Gordon
As you can see, one race can make or break a driver. Kahne was 1 spot in front of Gordon coming into Chicago but ended up in the top 5 after a very strong run. Gordon had terrible luck, which is essentially a recap of his entire season. If he wants to truly be a contender, he’s got no choice but to throw out wins from now on. Loudon will be a good chance to see the different strategies of the Chase drivers. Stay tuned as we head to New Hampshire this weekend for another exciting Chase race.