With Kentucky Speedway in the rear view mirror, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series invades Loudon, New Hampshire for the Lenox Industrial Tools 301. Several drivers have been very consistent over the last three seasons, making fantasy picks a little tough this week for owners.
Since we are likely to see very little passing at the "Magic Mile", qualifying and starting up front is the priority here. In addition to qualifying, getting the car set-up correct before it leaves the shop is also a necessity. This race is one of the shorter on the schedule, in terms of distance, which doesn't allot the teams time to make major adjustments during the race.
This week the plan will be to stay conservative and stick with "safe" picks that have proven they can get it done at Loudon. Feel free to share your comments on my picks and post your lineup here.
Kurt Busch - The Brothers Busch have been very strong at this track so I feel either is worth in your starting lineup. Busch has three victories at Loudon, seven top-5's and an average finish of sixth place over the last three seasons. Not too shabby. One slight concern with him this week is his inability to "close the deal" at Kentucky and Kansas despite him dominating earlier is the race.
Alternate pick: Denny Hamlin - Hamlin has slipped a bit on his flat track game but still worthy of consideration. He would typically be a lock for a top-10 at Loudon, but while his stats are not as impressive lately he has seven top-10's in 10 races at the "Magic Mile". He is coming off an 11th place finish at Kentucky, enough to boost him one spot in the point standings. Normally, Hamlin would be a prime choice for your Group A driver, but I did toss around the idea of Jimmie Johnson in this spot.
Clint Bowyer - I am a bit reluctant with recommending Bowyer this week after his last two races the No. 33 has been involved in two accidents. The results of his misfortune was a 36th and 35th place finish and a "hit" in the point standings. However, with two victories and four top-10's in 10 races at Loudon are enough to hedge that his slump will end on Sunday.
Ryan Newman - Newman may have gained some momentum last week with his fourth place finish at Kentucky Speedway. He is a bit risky this week based on his flat-track performance so far this season, but Newman does have two wins at Loudon which can't be ignored. In addition to his wins, he has 12 top-10's in 18 races here.
Alternate pick: A.J. Allmendinger - Allmendinger struggled last week at Kentucky after three top-15 finishes at Michigan, Infineon and Daytona. Although his overall stats at Loudon will not "knock your socks off", Allmendinger did finish in the top-12 in both races last season.
David Ragan - I'm going back with Ragan this week at Loudon since he does have some momentum over the last six races. His best finish here is 15th so be sure NOT to look at his stats at the track, but how his season seems to be on an up swing.
Alternate pick: Landon Cassill - Cassill could be a surprise this weekend and finish in the top-25, but while risky, he is the best choice in you are running out of starts for Ragan and Menard.