Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images

Broadcast-wise, we were a little in the dark this weekend. The only meaningful practice that was televised was Happy Hour, and that only lasted 50 minutes. Qualifying didn’t even make it to TV until late on Friday. The good news, however, is that ifantasyrace has you covered. Click here to check out the practice analysis for this weekend’s race at Loudon. Please note that if a driver didn’t show up on either ten-lap average chart in the two practice sessions on Saturday, that’s a huge red flag (at least in my mind).

My Probable Yahoo! Roster: Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer, Brian Vickers
My Probable Yahoo! Bench: Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Aric Almirola

Final Top Fifteen Ranking For The Sylvania 300:
*Chase drivers marked in red

1. Clint Bowyer – Starts 12th – Yahoo! B Group
**Risk Factor: Medium Risk** 

Bowyer is a two-time winner here at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and he looked the most consistent (speed-wise) among the “favorites” this weekend. He’ll roll off the grid in 12th on Sunday afternoon but should move up quickly from there. The #15 ended up 2nd on the ten-lap average chart in the first Saturday practice and was 3rd on that same chart in Happy Hour. Furthermore, Bowyer was 6th on the overall average speed chart. He ended up 3rd here back in July and should be good for another top 5 this weekend.

2. Kyle Busch – Starts 2nd – Yahoo! A Group
**Risk Factor: High Risk**

It sure seems like the #18 is turning things up now that the Chase has started despite being on the outside looking in. Overall, Loudon hasn’t been that great of a track for Rowdy, and that’s the main reason why he’s “High Risk” this weekend. He actually hasn’t finished better than 9th in the last five events here, believe it or not. However, I’m expecting that to change on Sunday, as Kyle’s Toyota looks to have top 5 speed. In Happy Hour, Busch had the second-best ten-lap average and he ended up 5th on the overall average speed chart. It also doesn’t hurt that he starts 2nd.

3. Jeff Gordon – Starts 1st – Yahoo! A Group
**Risk Factor: Low Risk**

No other driver has led more laps than Jeff Gordon at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (1,309) and he should increase that number on Sunday–at least at the beginning. The #24 Chevrolet was the fastest in qualifying on Friday and that number one pit stall should help out this pit crew on Sunday a bit, as they have struggled quite a bit this season. Gordon topped the ten-lap average chart in the first practice session on Friday and was 10th on that chart in Happy Hour. He has just one finish worse than 12th in the last eleven Sprint Cup races at Loudon, and he should make it one out of twelve on Sunday.

4. Denny Hamlin – Starts 32nd – Yahoo! A Group
**Risk Factor: Medium Risk**

He has a lot of things going against him going into the race, but Hamlin should still be a solid pick. He qualified 32nd, and I’m not exactly sure why. I heard a rumor that something broke on the car, but that isn’t verified. Denny said they were going to win this weekend after the race in Chicago last Sunday, but backed off on those comments this week after the media took off with the story. I still think he has a shot, though, but Hamlin starting so far back will make it a little harder, that’s for sure. If there’s an early wreck, that could kill this team’s championship hopes, but with the way this season is going I’m not exactly worried about that. Hamlin was at the top of the chart in all practice sessions this weekend and had the best ten-lap average during Happy Hour. You’re going to be hearing his name a lot once the green flag waves on Sunday because Hamlin will be passing a whole bunch of cars in a small amount of time in the beginning.

5. Brad Keselowski – Starts 15th – Yahoo! A Group
**Risk Factor: Low Risk**

Bad Brad ended up 2nd here in this race last season and followed that up with a solid top 5 in the summer race here in June this year. This team used the race at Richmond a few weeks ago to test some things for the event here at Loudon this weekend, and for what it’s worth BK ended up 7th that day. He’ll start the Sylvania 300 from 15th-place but shouldn’t be there for very long; in Happy Hour, Keselowski had the 6th-best ten-lap average, and in the first practice session on Saturday, he ended up 9th on that chart. Overall, the Blue Deuce was 7th in average speed. I’m not guaranteeing a top 5 for Bad Brad this weekend, but I’d say it’s pretty likely. I will guarantee a top 10 for this team, though.

6. Tony Stewart – Starts 3rd – Yahoo! A Group
**Risk Factor: Medium Risk**

One thing that surprised me a bit with qualifying was the Stewart ended up near the front (3rd). And then practice happened, and Smoke was 8th on the overall average speed chart. If you have listened to me at all this season, you know that when that happens, the #14 is really strong. Smoke rarely shows his hand in practice, basically. He won this race last season and has a career average finish of 11.6 in twenty-seven career starts here at New Hampshire. The only reason I have Stewart as “Medium Risk” is because this team has disappointed and not showed up so many times this year. I don’t think it will happen on Sunday, but you never know. Just by going from the numbers, I’d say a top 5 is within his reach on Sunday, and he could grab a win if Steve Addington does everything right (not a given).

7. Jimmie Johnson – Starts 20th – Yahoo! A Group
**Risk Factor: Low Risk**

Five Time is getting the nod over a couple other drivers that have shown top 10 speed this weekend simply because this is Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus we’re talking about. In twenty-one career starts here, he has an averaged a finish of 9.9 and grabbed three victories, the most recent in 2010. However, I’m just not seeing much speed out the #48 this weekend (not that they won’t find it), as Johnson ranked 18th on the overall speed chart and 14th on the ten-lap average chart in first practice. However, by Happy Hour, it seems like this team hit on something, as the #48 was 9th on the ten-lap average chart then. Jimmie finished 7th here back in July after leading two laps and I’m expecting a similar result here on Sunday (in other words, nothing special from this team).

8. Ryan Newman – Starts 8th – Yahoo! B Group
**Risk Factor: Medium Risk**

Flat tracks are where The Rocketman is at his best, and New Hampshire Motor Speedway is no exception. In twenty-one career starts here, Newman has an average finish of 12.9 among three victories and 720 laps led. When you look at his recent performance here, Ryan has five top 10s in the last six events, and should make it six of seven on Sunday. On the overall average speed chart on Saturday, the #39 ended up 10th, and Newman was 7th on both ten-lap average charts. He starts 8th and should be inside the top 10 all day. It also helps that this team seems to be back on their strong streak with their performance last weekend in Chicago.

9. Martin Truex, Jr. – Starts 9th – Yahoo! B Group
**Risk Factor: Low Risk**

Truex actually isn’t too bad here at New Hampshire. In eleven career starts at this one-mile race track, Martin has just three finishes outside of the top 20 and has amassed five top 10s. He ended up 11th here back in July, and I could see a similar run out of him on Sunday as well. Nothing great, but solid with a shot at a top 10. Truex was 15th in overall average speed on Saturday and was 6th in first practice in terms of ten-lap average. His teammate is really, really fast, but you have to wonder whether or not these teams will share notes since they are both going for the championship.

10. Joey Logano – Starts 18th – Yahoo! B Group
**Risk Factor: Medium Risk**

Sliced Bread was very impressive in practice, so it will be interesting to see if he can bring the momentum from Chicago last weekend into the Sylvania 300 on Sunday. Logano got a win here back in 2009 (rain-shortened race) and has just one finish worse than 14th in the past five events here. I wouldn’t expect that to change on Sunday. Despite starting mid-pack, Joey was 4th in overall average speed and ranked inside the top 5 during both practice sessions on Saturday in terms of ten-lap average. I’m not going to say that I think he could sneak out a win on Sunday, but I will say that if it does happen, I won’t exactly be surprised. This Toyota looks super fast, as does the whole Gibbs organization.

11. Brian Vickers – Starts 4th – Yahoo! C Group
**Risk Factor: Medium Risk**

This #55 Toyota definitely has some power under the hood this weekend, but the main thing I’m worried about is whether it can maintain it on the long run. Vickers didn’t make a run of ten laps or longer in the first practice on Saturday and was 15th on the ten-lap average chart in Happy Hour. He ended up 2nd on the overall average speed chart, though, and we all know how awesome Vickers has been in Sprint Cup this season. I’m hoping for a top 10, but I think a top 15 is much more likely

12. Kasey Kahne – Starts 6th – Yahoo! B Group
**Risk Factor: High Risk**
13. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – Starts 14th – Yahoo! B Group
**Risk Factor: High Risk**

I had very high hopes for both of these Hendrick drivers coming into the race weekend, but now I’m a little worried. Neither Kahne nor Earnhardt showed up on either ten-lap average chart during the practice sessions on Saturday, and that is a huge red flag in my mind. Sure, they qualified well, but will they race well? I’d like to know why neither of these drivers made any long race runs during practice, and until I get an answer, I view the #5 and #88 as too risky this weekend. Still, I can’t blame you for picking either of them because Kahne won here back in July and Junior ended up 4th.

14. Sam Hornish, Jr. – Starts 43rd – Yahoo! C Group
**Risk Factor: High Risk**

He’s going to start at the back of the pack due to a driver switch, but I’m not real worried about that. If Dave Blaney can make this car look somewhat fast, Hornish should have a rocketship on Sunday. The Double Deuce ended up just 20th on the overall average speed chart was 10th in ten-lap average during the first practice. Also, it’s hard to go against how hot Hornish has been lately. Obviously, there’s a large amount of risk, though. If there’s an early wreck (not a given), Sam’s day could be over early on Sunday.

15. Paul Menard – Starts 7th – Yahoo! B Group
**Risk Factor: High Risk**

If you need a major sleeper that looked really good in practice, here you go. Menard will start 7th on Sunday, had the 12th-best overall average speed, and ranked inside the top 10 on both ten-lap average charts. In other words, the speed is there, Menard just has to bring it home. His record here, however, is going to drive most people away: in eleven career starts at Loudon, Paul has an average finish of 26.7 and just two top 20s. The good news? His best finish came here back in July (17th) and I think he’ll improve upon that. If you want a safe option for a top 15 this weekend, go ahead and take Menard’s teammate Jeff Burton. Trust me.

Those To Avoid For The Sylvania 300:

Carl Edwards – Roush-Fenway is really not good here, and the only that Cousin Carl has been reliable at this year has been qualifying. That is the case this weekend. He’ll start the Sylvania 300 on Sunday in 5th place but I wouldn’t expect him to stay up there very long. The #99 team didn’t make any runs of ten laps or longer in either practice session on Saturday and ended up 17th on the overall average speed chart. Edwards has three top 10s in sixteen starts at this track if you’re still thinking about picking him.

Aric Almirola – Chances are you have Almirola in Yahoo!, and as long as you have Brian Vickers or Sam Hornish, Jr. as your alternative, I’d go ahead and pick one of them. Both the #55 and the #22 look faster than the #43 in my opinion. Almirola should be good for a top 25, but not much better than that.