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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Frontstretch Fantasy Insider: There’s Magic in This Here Mile

While the configurations between Sonoma’s road course and Loudon’s oval are about as far apart as racetracks come, there are some similarities. The groove at Loudon is narrow, just like Sonoma… and drivers out-braking each other into corners will constitute much of Sunday’s action. Track position will be at a premium on race day, and the Frontstretch Fantasy Insider will provide just that for your roster this weekend.

By the Numbers

Best Average Finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (since 2005, active drivers)
Denny Hamlin, 6 starts, 7.2
Mark Martin, 4 starts, 9.2
Tony Stewart, 8 starts, 9.8
Martin Truex Jr., 6 starts, 9.8
Jeff Burton, 8 starts, 9.8

2008 Lenox Industrial Tools 301 Top-Five Finishers
Kurt Busch, 10 laps led
Michael Waltrip, 0 laps led
JJ Yeley, 0 laps led
Martin Truex Jr., 0 laps led
Elliott Sadler, 0 laps led

Power Tools

Jimmie Johnson has finished outside the top 15 once at New Hampshire Motor Speedway… since 2002. Johnson’s found victory lane twice at Loudon, and comes into this race with a streak of four consecutive top 10s at the track. Plus, the No. 48 team has been in solid form the entire month of June… winning at Dover, nearly winning at Michigan, and on the heels of a top-five run at Sonoma. Look for that stretch to continue Sunday. – Bryan

It has been written in this column before that there are horses for courses. Jeff Burton is a horse that runs well at the course in Loudon, N.H. In the 20 races that have taken place in New Hampshire since 1998, Burton has finished outside the top 20 once and outside the top 15 four times. He’s won at the track four times in his career and finished fourth there in the race last fall. This season has been a struggle for RCR, and if Burton wants to make a run at making the Chase, this weekend will be the perfect time to pull from past experience and put a strong finish in the books. – Mike

Hand Tools

Ryan Newman’s performance has been markedly improved in 2009. He’s run well where he has in the past… and not run well where he hasn’t (top five at Pocono vs. being lost at Michigan). Well guess what… he’s run well at Loudon in the past. The site of his first Cup win, Newman has two victories on the Magic Mile, and even in his not-so-fine final years at Penske Racing, he still was a solid top-15 contender when the circuit hit Loudon. The No. 39 team has missed the mark the last few weeks, and could ask for no better venue for a turnaround. – Bryan

Denny Hamlin has had some bad luck this year that has kept him from being higher in the points. The last two weekends Hamlin has come home third and fifth respectively. He’s sitting seventh in points and is coming off of a weekend where he led 33 laps on a course where straight-line braking is critical. That same kind of braking is critical at Loudon as well. With the highest average finish among active drivers since 1998 at 7.2, look for Hamlin to ride this current wave of momentum to the front again this weekend. – Mike

Duct Tapes

Reed Sorenson may well prove a quiet fantasy steal this weekend. His No. 43 car has been a top-20 performer on a variety of tracks similar to Loudon, be it the 1-miler at Dover or the flat track at Richmond. Plus, Sorenson has averaged a top-15 finish in his last three starts at NHMS. Anyone looking for a bargain to fill out their roster this weekend may well find Sorenson just what the doctor ordered Sunday. – Bryan

Robby Gordon was on the perfect strategy to win the race last weekend in Sonoma when the cruel winds of caution flags conspired against him to relegate him to a poor finish. Gordon is now heading to an oval track where he has visited victory lane in a Cup car before. Gordon’s average finish at Loudon is 20.9 which puts him right in the middle of the pack of active drivers. However, it is one of the highest among the lower echelon drivers. Gordon continues to do yeoman’s work as a driver/owner with far less backing than the more famous owner/driver in the series. Take a chance with Gordon this weekend, you won’t be disappointed. – Mike

Last Word

Loudon is a FLAT 1-mile track where getting the car to turn in the center of the corner is the most important thing the teams can do – no easy task now that the Cup Series is racing the top-heavy new car design. Drivers who’ve shown the ability to get around Martinsville and Loudon in the past, along with good road racers, will pay big dividends for fantasy players this weekend. If you can pick up drivers who finished well at Martinsville and last weekend at Sonoma, you’ll be well served.

Results of our experts in the Frontstretch Games

Game of Tomorrow

Bryan – 4146
Mike – 3863

Hat Dance Dynasty

Bryan – 3259
Mike – 3155

Frontstretch Fourplay

Bryan – 8130
Mike – 7331

To help the readers track how well our experts are doing, we’ll keep track of the cumulative points scored by all three drivers every week and the total for the season.

Totals

Bryan 310 5588
Mike 417 5423

About the author

The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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