It’s time for round number 2 in the 2016 NASCAR Chase. The second race in the 10 race Chase heads back to New Hampshire Motor Speedway this week for Sunday’s Bad Boy Off Road 300. The Cup series was here in July, and while some notes from that last race can still apply, with fall in New England temperatures are typically much cooler and the track much different.
Martin Truex Jr. secured a spot in the next round with his win last week at Chicagoland, and look for drivers to try to emulate his success Sunday. There are two more chances to win a spot in the next round and stave off elimination. That next to last chance comes Sunday meaning Chase drivers will be looking for one thing, a win. .
Here are my favorites for Sunday’s 28th race of the year for your betting or fantasy racing leagues. Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2016 races (23 total) among active drivers at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The Driver Rating is a number based on a formula developed by NASCAR which combines “loop data” elements such as average running position, average speed under green, number of fastest laps, and other stats. There is a maximum of 150 points that a driver can earn for each race. The odds are current as of Wednesday.
Matt Kenseth (8-1) won here in July, and he also won this race last fall. Despite an 11th place driver rating of 90.3 Kenseth is on a roll here and with the momentum of winning the last two races, can’t be ignored.
Denny Hamlin (8-1) has two wins at New Hampshire. He has the second highest driver rating 103.3 second only to Jeff Gordon who isn’t racing this weekend. Hamlin looked strong at Chicagoland and was second in the race last year leading 21 laps. It would surprise few if Hamlin added a third win to his New Hampshire resume.
Kyle Busch (6-1) won at New Hampshire in July last year, his second Cup win at Loudon. He has the seventh highest driver rating in the field 97.4, and after a disappointing finish at Chicagoland last week, Busch knows he needs a rebound and will be looking to add a third win to his New Hampshire record.
Jimmie Johnson (10-1) surprised many last week. After a few weeks of struggle, in the first race of the Chase Johnson ran strong and was the class of the field, until a rare mistake late in the going put him deep in the field. Despite this, Johnson has the fourth highest driver rating in the field, 100.8, along with three wins here. Now that the Chase is here, the six time champion showed he’s in it to win it, and should be strong Sunday.
Brad Keselowski (10-1) also has one win at New Hampshire. He has the fifth highest driver rating in the field, 99.8, and the ability to score a win in the Chase. He also looked strong last week and there’s no reason to believe he won’t carry that over to this week.
OTHERS: Chase Elliott (18-1) only has one Cup start here and that ended in disaster when he lost a tire in the July race, leaving him with a 34th place run and a driver rating of 79.4, outside the top 16. However, before his bad luck in July he was running inside the top five and was a contender; New Hampshire could be the place the young rookie scores his first win. Kevin Harvick (6-1) has one win here, but that was in 2006. He has the eighth highest driver rating in the field, 96.7, and while his record may not reflect it, he was fourth here in July and could pull off something of an upset Sunday.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Bad Boy Off Road 300 will be run on Sunday September 25. Live coverage will be on the NBC Sports Network starting at 1:30 p.m. ET with the green flag coming just after 2:00 p.m. ET.
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