Martin Truex Jr. – Martin Truex Jr. is an elite performer at New Hampshire who’ll be tough to beat. He’s been good enough to win many of the recent races and if it wasn’t for problems he could’ve easily won both races last year. Over the last four New Hampshire races Truex Jr. has thrived. Over the last four he’s averaged leading 128.25 laps per race, has the 2nd best driver rating, a 4.0 average running position and has a misleading 7.8 average finish. Last fall Martin Truex Jr. likely had the best car but finished a misleading 5th. In the race he won Stage #1 and would’ve won Stage #2 if he wasn’t involved in a wreck during the final lap of that segment while leading which damaged the rear quarter panel of his car. Up until that point he led 112 of the 150 laps. His car was so strong he battled back from the damage and when the checkered flag waved he finished 5th, had a 5th place average running position and earned the 3rd best driver rating. Last summer he had a great car that I thought was subjectively the best. When the checkered flag waved he earned the best driver rating, finished 3rd and led a race high 137 laps. I’ll note his race wasn’t incident free because he had to make an unexpected pit stop in the last third of the race which had him on older tires than the competition at the end. In fall 2016 Truex Jr. had a great car but some poor restarts near the end hurt him. When the checkered flag waved he finished 7th, earned the best driver rating, had a 2nd place average running position and led a race high 141 laps. In July 2016 Truex Jr. finished a very misleading 16th. Performance wise I would argue he likely had the best car but a broken shifter ruined his afternoon. Prior to his shifter breaking he was the race leader. In total he paced the field for 123 laps. Richmond is the last shorter flat track visited and at that venue he led 121 laps and had a great chance to win if he didn’t have problems on pit road.
Kyle Busch – Kyle Busch will be a popular fantasy NASCAR option at New Hampshire who should be on your short list of favorites. He won here last fall and over the last ten races minus fall 2015 he has a 4.3 average finish and a 4.8 average running position. Last fall, Busch had a stellar car and won from the pole. Additionally he earned the best driver rating, had a 1st place average running position, earned a near perfect driver rating and led 187 laps. I will note despite his dominance a good case could be made that Truex Jr. had the best car. Last summer, Busch had a top two car but finished 12th because his race wasn’t incident free. While he was leading with 62 laps to go he was caught speeding on pit road which dropped him a lap down. Additionally from the race it should be noted he won Stage #2, earned the 3rd best driver rating, had a 5th place average running position and led 95 laps. In fall 2016 he was strong. He finished 3rd, earned the 3rd best driver rating and had a 5th place average running position. In July 2016 he had a great car. He earned the best driver rating, had a 2nd place average running position, led the most laps (133) and finished 8th. I will note that’s a misleading result. Strength wise he was top 3 good but he got shuffled back late. Richmond is the last shorter flat track visited and at that venue he raced his way to victory lane. On Sunday look for Busch to finish in the top five and compete for the win.
Kevin Harvick – Kevin Harvick will be one of the drivers to beat at New Hampshire. He’s a recent winner who’s finished in the top five in 4 of the last 6 races. Over that stretch minus his two misleading results he has a 3.2 average finish and a 5.4 average running position. Last fall Harvick didn’t have the best car and finished a misleading 36th. On the last lap in Stage #2 while he was running in the low-double digits he wrecked after contact with Austin Dillon. If he would’ve had an incident free race I think his team would’ve probably tuned his car to his liking and he would’ve finished in the top ten. Last summer Harvick was a consistent front runner. When the checkered flag waved he finished 5th, had a 6th place average running position and earned the 6th best driver rating. Additionally he finished 3rd in Stage #2. In fall 2016 Harvick had a fast car and raced his way to victory lane following a late restart. Additionally from the race it should be noted he earned the 4th best driver rating and had a 6th place average running position. In summer 2016 he had a great car that ranked as one of the best but his pit crew held him back consistently throughout the event always costing him a handful of positions. When the race reached its conclusion he finished 4th and earned the 4th best driver rating. In fall 2015 Kevin Harvick had the best car but finished 21st after running out of gas while leading with 3 laps to go. In that race he led 216 laps, earned the best driver rating and had a 2nd place average running position. In the two races prior to that he finished 3rd.