Race number two of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs features a return to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the ISM Connect 300. Denny Hamlin won the first race at the “Magic Mile” earlier this season. Can he become the third different driver to sweep both events at NHMS in a season? Considering how Joe Gibbs Racing has won four of the last five events at the site, it might seem likely, but he is not quite the prime pick this week.
TOP PRICED PICKS
Kyle Busch ($10,700 on DraftKings) is a two-time New Hampshire winner, and one of the better picks. In 25 starts at NHMS, Kyle Busch has 13 Top 10 finishes including seven Top 10 finishes in his last nine starts at the site. He has the seventh-best Average Running Position of 12.2, the fourth-most Fastest Laps at 409, and the third-best DR of 98.8. Kyle Busch starts first, was second in first practice, had the fourth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in second practice, and was third in final practice. He has been very fast throughout practices and will lead several laps as well as compete for the win.
Martin Truex Jr. ($10,500) earned his fifth victory of the season last week at Chicagoland, which leads all drivers. In 23 starts at New Hampshire, Truex has nine Top 10 finishes with a best finish of third. Truex has the eighth-best ARP of 12.9, the 10th most Laps in the Top 15 at 4,467, and the ninth-best DR of 92.5. Truex was fourth in first practice, third in second practice, first in final practice, and starts fifth. As one of the fastest throughout practices and with recent momentum from his victory last week, don’t be surprised to see him leading plenty of laps and compete for the win.
Brad Keselowski ($10,200) opened the playoffs with a sixth-place finish at Chicagoland. In 16 starts at the site, Keselowski has one win, 10 Top 10 finishes, and an Average Finishing Position of 10.2, which ranks third of active drivers. Keselowski has the fifth-best ARP of 11.4 and the fourth-best DR of 98.7. He was 15th in first practice, 12th in second practice, had the ninth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice, and starts 13th. Keselowski’s practice speeds show that he will finish slightly ahead of his starting position.
Kevin Harvick ($10,100) is one of the better choices for New Hampshire. Since 2014, Harvick has finished outside of the Top 5 twice at NHMS. In 33 starts at New Hampshire, Harvick has two wins, 18 Top 10 finishes, and 706 Laps Led, which is third of active drivers. Since 2005, Harvick has the third-best ARP of 10.9, the second-most Fastest Laps at 427, the second-most Laps in the Top 15 at 5,485, and the fifth-best DR of 98.0. Harvick was second in final practice and starts sixth. Harvick will compete for a Top 5 finish based on his final practice speed.
Denny Hamlin ($9,900) looks to become the second driver at New Hampshire in Cup Series history to win at the site four times. In 23 starts at New Hampshire, Hamlin has 14 Top 10 finishes and 549 Laps Led, which is fourth of active drivers. He has six Top 5 finishes in the last seven races this season. Hamlin has the second-best ARP of 10.8, the third-most Quality Passes (Passes of cars in the Top 15 under green-flag conditions) at 731, the third-most Fastest Laps at 419, and the best DR of 104.0. He was sixth in first practice, fifth in second practice, ninth in final practice, and starts third. Expect Hamlin to finish behind his starting position, but remain in the Top 10 based on practice speeds.
Since two races ago at Richmond, Jimmie Johnson ($9,600) quietly has secured two Top 10 finishes. In 31 starts at New Hampshire, Johnson has three wins and 21 Top 10 finishes. Since 2005, Johnson has the fourth-best ARP of 11.2, the most Fastest Laps at 454, and the second-best DR of 100.8. Johnson starts 12th, was 11th in second practice, and seventh in final practice. Johnson’s practice speeds indicate a Top 10 finish.
Kyle Larson ($9,500) scored his third Top 3 finish at New Hampshire earlier this season. At all three races at one mile tracks in 2017, Larson has finished second. In seven starts at New Hampshire, Larson has four Top 10 finishes. Larson’s AFP of 11.7 ranks fifth of active drivers. Larson was first in both first and second practice, was fifth in final practice, and starts second. Larson will finish in the Top 5 based on practice speeds.
Matt Kenseth ($9,400) is the last driver to win two consecutive races at New Hampshire, winning at the site in Fall 2015 and Spring 2016. In 35 starts at NHMS, Kenseth has three wins and 20 Top 10 finishes. Since 2005, Kenseth has the 10th-best ARP of 13.4, the eighth-most Laps in the Top 15 at 4,771, and seventh-best DR of 92.8. He starts 10th, was seventh in first practice, fourth in second practice, and ranked 11th in the 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Kenseth has finished sixth or better in his last five NHMS starts, which combined with his solid practice speeds, makes him a favorable play.
MID-RANGE PRICED PICKS
Joey Logano ($8,700) is one of the best DFS picks this week. Logano is a two-time winner at New Hampshire with eight Top 10 finishes in 18 starts at the site. He has four Top four finishes in his last six starts at New Hampshire. Logano was 13th in first practice, 15th in second practice, and starts 39th after he failed to set a qualifying time. His practice speeds indicate a Top 15 finish, but the Place Differential Logano offers is too great to ignore.
Ryan Blaney ($8,000) finished 11th in his playoffs debut last week. In four starts at New Hampshire, Blaney’s best finish is 11th and his worst finish is 23rd with two Top 15 showings. He was fifth in first practice, second in second practice, sixth in final practice, and he starts fourth. Blaney has looked fast throughout practices and will finish around his starting position.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($7,900) has never won at New Hampshire. In 34 starts at the site, Earnhardt has 15 Top 10 finishes. He has four Top 10 finishes in his last six starts at New Hampshire. He starts 15th, was 11th in first practice, had the 10th best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in second practice, and was eighth in final practice. Earnhardt has looked solid enough in practices to finish around the Top 10, ahead of his starting position.
Daniel Suarez ($7,500) will make his second start at New Hampshire this week. In his previous start earlier this season, he started 14th and finished sixth. With finishes of seventh and 12th the last two weeks, he has built decent momentum for his value. Suarez will start 25th, and was 12th in first practice, sixth in second practice, and fourth in final practice. He has looked fast in practices and starts far back enough to accrue points from PD.
A.J. Allmendinger ($6,800) has six Top 20 finishes and has finished 23rd or better in his last 12 starts at NHMS. He starts 20th, was 17th in first practice, 20th in second practice, and ranked 18th in the 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. His practice speeds point towards a finish around his starting position, making him a favorable bargain play.
Ty Dillon ($6,700) made one previous start at New Hampshire earlier this season. He started 25th and finished 16th. He currently has 16 Top 20 finishes this season. He was 28th in first practice, 29th in second practice, and 24th in final practice. He will start from the back after going to a backup car due to contact with the wall from final practice. DraftKings will count his original starting position of 30th, but that is close to the rear, so he can still obtain PD points without much issue. His backup car will have similar speeds to his original car, therefore expect him to finish better than his starting position.
Danica Patrick’s ($6,100) best finish at New Hampshire is 13th, which she scored earlier this season. In nine starts at New Hampshire, Patrick has four Top 20 finishes, which include her last three starts. Patrick starts 27th, was 14th in first practice, 26th in second practice, and was 16th in the 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice. Patrick’s practice speeds point to a finish ahead of her starting position around the Top 20.
TOP DRIVERS IN EACH PRICE RANGE FOR ISM CONNECT 300 – BASED ON COMBINATION OF PROJECTED PERFORMANCE AND VALUE
$10,000 – Plus Range
1: Martin Truex Jr. ($10,500) – He has been strong regardless of track type and has looked fast throughout practices.
2: Kyle Busch ($10,700) – He has been among the fastest throughout practices and has good history at New Hampshire.
3: Kevin Harvick ($10,100) – New Hampshire is a very favorable track for him with only two finishes outside the Top 5 since 2014. He looked very good in final practice.
$9,000 – Plus Range
1: Kyle Larson ($9,500) – He was the fastest in first and second practices and finished second at the site earlier this year.
2: Jimmie Johnson ($9,600) – He starts outside of the Top 10 and has shown practice speeds that look a little better than his starting position.
3: Matt Kenseth ($9,400) – He has finished in the Top 10 in his last five starts at New Hampshire. His practice speeds indicate that he will continue this trend.
$8,000 – Plus Range
1: Joey Logano ($8,700) – Logano starts last, meaning there is no risk to using him and he will gain plenty of points from PD.
2: Ryan Blaney ($8,000) – Blaney has been one of the fastest throughout practices.
3: Kurt Busch ($8,200) – He starts seventh and had the fifth-best 10 Consecutive Lap Average in final practice.
$7,000 – Plus Range
1: Daniel Suarez ($7,500) – He has been very fast throughout practices and starts 25th. Watch for him to move and score points from PD.
2: Dale Earnhardt Jr. ($7,900) – His practice speeds look better than his starting position.
3: Kasey Kahne ($7,400) – He starts ninth and his practice speeds have been close to his starting position. He was third in first practice, ninth in second practice, and 11th in final practice.
Below $7,000 Range
1: Danica Patrick ($6,100) – She has looked much better than her starting position throughout practices.
2: Ty Dillon ($6,700) – Even though he is starting from the rear, watch for Ty Dillon to improve on his original starting position of 30th.
3: A.J. Allmendinger ($6,800) – He starts 20th and his practice speeds look pretty similar to his starting position.