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This section is less about prognostication, and more about highlighting drivers catching my eye at a given moment. We all play in different formats and have different strategies, but hopefully this adds some value to your results. Harvick, Truex, and Kyle Busch have been purposely omitted because they are obvious options each week. Good luck!

THE DOWNFORCE (start ’em)

Denny Hamlin – Denny is a three-time winner at New Hampshire, and is the defending champion of this race. In his career, he’s finished 38% of his NH starts in the top-five, and 58% in the top-ten. This season, the #11 has averaged a finish of 6.3 with 38 pts at the short/flat tracks, including 2 top-fives.

Brad Keselowski – Brad is a solid bet for around 37 pts this weekend. He has three consecutive top-tens at NH, finishing 9th and 4h in 2017. This season, the #2 earned 35 pts at Phoenix, 43 at Martinsville, and 32 pts at Richmond. Interestingly, they’ve done this with an average finish of 11th, which tells me they are competing for stage points early on, and falling off the pace later on. Brad has finished 41% of his NH starts in the top-five, and 65% in the top-ten. I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt to close out the effort this weekend.

Clint Bowyer – Clint finished both NH races last year in 7th place with an average of 31 points. However, on the flat tracks thus far in 2018, Bowyer is leading the field with 43 average points, and an average finish of 5.3, concluding all 3 races in the top-ten. This is the only team that has beaten the “Big Three” outside of a plate track, and they’ve done it twice. At this point of the season, that looks a lot more impressive to me than it’s getting credit for.

Kyle Larson – The #42 had a great season at New Hampshire last year, finishing 2nd in both events. This team’s results have been plagued by unfortunate circumstances all season long, which makes it difficult to back him with data, even when we know he’s as talented as they come. If you have him available for this weekend, the reward is still worth the risk in my opinion.

Chase Elliott – The #9 team has been annoyingly inconsistent this season, and I think that’s putting it kindly. However, if they’ve been consistent anywhere this season, it’s at places where driver skill matters more than the car: short tracks, plate tracks, and road courses. Chase finished 3rd at Phoenix with 39 pts, 9th at Martinsville with 29 pts, and 2nd at Richmond with 39 pts. More recently, Chase finished 4th at Sonoma with 49 pts. He’s never finished better than 11th at NH, but I think he surprises us this weekend.

THE DRAFT (dark horse)

Daniel Suarez – Suarez only has two career starts at New Hampshire, finishing both in the top-ten last season (6th, 8th), improving an average of 12.5 spots from the starting grid. However, factoring in his 2018 starts at Phoenix (8th), Richmond (10th), and Martinsville (18th, -3 laps), and the trend is more clear. Suarez is one of only 5 drivers who have finished all five of these races in the top-twenty, and the other 4 are written about on this post. In 2 career Xfinity starts at NH, Suarez finished both in the top-five. If you need to save a big name, this is a quality option.

THE DRAG (use caution)

Jimmie Johnson – On paper, Jimmie is a pretty good pick here. He has 18 top-tens in 26 career starts (69%), but hasn’t had a top-five since 2014. Depending on your situation, I won’t discourage a play on the #48, but given his 2018 campaign, I still think it’s wishful thinking for something to magically click this weekend. Over the last two seasons, Jimmie has started 6.25 positions better than he’s finished, which is not a stat to inspire faith. Then again, certainly no reason to save him either. By the 48’s standards, I expect a mediocre 12th-ish place finish with around 28 pts.


2.2, #6 Matt Kenseth
7.0, #20 Daniel Suarez (2 races)
7.8, #78 Martin Truex Jr.
7.8, #11 Denny Hamlin
8.8, #2 Brad Keselowski


123.9, #6 Matt Kenseth
119.1 #78 Martin Truex Jr.
117.9, #18 Kyle Busch
108.2, #11 Denny Hamlin
104.7, #4 Kevin Harvick

2018 PTS MOMENTUM (last 5 overall races this season)

40.6, #4 Kevin Harvick
40.4, #78 Martin Truex Jr.
35.2, #14 Clint Bowyer
35.0, #18 Kyle Busch
31.6, #20 Erik Jones

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