The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway this week for the 2019 Foxwoods Resort Casino 301. But just because there’s racing at the Magic Mile doesn’t mean you need any voodoo to have a good daily fantasy NASCAR FanDuel roster.
New Hampshire is one of the most unique tracks on the circuit. It is just over one mile in length and flat, but it sort of races like a short track. The structure would lead you to believe that equipment doesn’t matter, giving underdogs a chance to shine regardless of equipment. But contrary to that, the last 10 races there have only been won by powerhouse teams Stewart-Haas Racing, Team Penske and Joe Gibbs Racing.
There are a handful of drivers who appear to be a step up from everyone else when it comes to the Magic Mile. Don’t venture too far from that group — they likely won’t lead your lineup astray.
FanDuel has put more emphasis on finishing position than other DFS sites. For this reason, they allow you to look at the entire field instead of just dominators and big movers.
Also, with only 0.1 points awarded for each lap led by a driver, the need for a dominator is less important when building a winning lineup. The 301-lap race will only have a total of 30.1 points up for grabs in this category. Take note when building your roster and focus on mid-pack competitors who can climb up toward the front on race day.
Here are a few drivers to keep an eye on for Sunday afternoon’s race.
ELITE TIER: $10,000 and up
Kevin Harvick ($12,500)
Career at New Hampshire: 35 starts, 3 wins, 11 top fives, 19 top 10s
Average Finish at New Hampshire: 13.1
It gets said just about every week, but Harvick is going to win soon. He is too elite of a driver to go winless in 2019 and New Hampshire could be the perfect spot for him to break through.
At the start of Harvick’s career, he wasn’t too great at the Magic Mile. But he’s been one of the guys to beat in recent years. Harvick has won two of the past four races there and earned top-five finishes in six of the past eight. He’s led over 50 laps at the track six times and over 100 laps three times. Harvick raced his way from the 14th position to win this race one year ago.
Even if Harvick doesn’t win on Sunday, he’s bound to have a solid race and score a lot of points.
Denny Hamlin ($11,500)
Career at New Hampshire: 25 starts, 3 wins, 9 top fives, 14 top 10s
Average Finish at New Hampshire: 10.2
Hamlin is arguably the best Cup Series driver at New Hampshire. He is tied for the most wins and has the best average finish among active drivers at the track. In addition to his three wins, this Joe Gibbs Racing veteran has four additional second-place finishes.
The most impressive feat of Hamlin, though, may be that he has zero DNFs in his 25 New Hampshire starts. He’s finished on the lead lap in all but two of those events while running inside the top 15 in the past seven New Hampshire races. There’s a strong possibility he could continue that streak this Sunday and maybe even compete for the win. Add in position differential points after starting from the rear of the field (backup car) and Hamlin could be the key to a winning lineup.
ALL-STAR TIER: $6,000 – $9,999
Jimmie Johnson ($9,600)
Career at New Hampshire: 33 starts, 3 wins, 10 top fives, 22 top 10s
Average Finish at New Hampshire: 10.6
If you put Hamlin as the best at New Hampshire, then you have to put Johnson a close second. Johnson is also tied for the most track wins among active drivers and has the second-best average finish.
Johnson hasn’t won at New Hampshire since 2010, so he’s not a huge favorite for the win this Sunday. But he has six straight top-15 finishes and top 15s in 11 of the past 13 races at the track. Johnson has the most New Hampshire top 10s among active drivers and needs just two more to tie Jeff Gordon for the most all time. He could very well notch another top 10 this week.
Ryan Newman ($8,000)
Career at New Hampshire: 33 starts, 3 wins, 7 top fives, 19 top 10s
Average Finish at New Hampshire: 13.7
Newman is also tied for the most New Hampshire wins and tied for the second most top 10s among active drivers. He also has the third most laps led among active drivers there with 722.
Newman’s last New Hampshire win came in 2011, and he hasn’t been as good at the track in recent years. But he did finish sixth in this race one year ago, his best performance in five years. Plus, Newman has been much better this season in a new ride at Roush Fenway Racing. He’s earned top-10 finishes in four of the past five races and is only two top 10s shy of his 2018 total. Newman also has his best average finish (13.8) going since 2015.
Newman will only get better as he gets more familiar with his No. 6 Ford team. With a driver at his value, a top 10 would be well worth your while.
BARGAIN TIER: $5,999 and below
Ryan Preece ($5,000)
Career at New Hampshire: 1 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average Finish at New Hampshire: 32.0
Preece may be a rookie, but he’s raced more at New Hampshire than most of the drivers who will be in the field Sunday. Across the Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series and Whelen Modified Tour, Preece has 34 starts at the track. Harvick and Kurt Busch are the only drivers with more Cup starts in Loudon than that. He won the Whelen All-Star Shootout at the track in 2017 and finished in the top five twice in Xfinity.
Preece was 32nd in his lone Cup New Hampshire start, but that came in a Tommy Baldwin Racing/Premium Motorsports entry that was averaging in the mid-30s. Preece’s current No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing car is much more competitive and could give this freshman the tools he needs for veteran success.
Track time is everything in motorsports, and Preece could be a solid pick for that reason.