On Sunday, August 2, the NASCAR Cup Series will make the trip up to The Granite State for 301 laps at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Loudon will mark the 20th event of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season.
The playoffs look a little different than last week at Kansas Speedway. Jimmie Johnson wrecked out, which dropped him outside of the playoffs. William Byron, who finished 10th last week, is inside the playoffs this week. As two of the last three races have been won by drivers who were outside of the playoffs, the playoff picture could change again at Loudon.
Loudon has been on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule since 1993. Before 2018, Loudon would host two races a year; now it hosts only one. With 2–7 degrees to work with in the corners, drivers have navigate this track differently than they did last week at Kansas. Loudon has seen races with one driver leading flag to flag while last year’s running was won with pit strategy by Kevin Harvick. Hopefully this week, your FanDuel picks can magically score high for you.
In the last ten races at Loudon, an average of 3.1 cars have dropped out of the race. Last week at Kansas, ten cars alone failed to finish. The last time ten or more cars dropped out of a race at Loudon was in September 2012. A wrecked car at Loudon does not automatically mean a done day for the driver – you can be a little riskier with your race picks as the could still make up positions on the track.
FanDuel has put more emphasis on finishing position than other DFS sites. For this reason, it allows 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 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 ($14,200)
Career at Loudon: 36 starts, 4 wins, 12 top fives, 20 top 10s
Average Finish at Loudon: 12.8
Look who makes another appearance to our lineup! It’s none other than Kevin Harvick. Harvick has won the last two races at Loudon and extended his top 5 streak to six races this season with a fourth place finish. Seven of the ten races that he’s run at Loudon have in resulted in a top five. In those other races, Harvick ran out of fuel while leading or was wrecked at the end of the second stage. In his early years with Stewart-Haas Racing, Harvick found success at flatter tracks like old Phoenix and Richmond. More recently, he’s had one of the best cars anywhere NASCAR goes. Harvick can score another top five this weekend as he rolls off the grid in seventh.
Denny Hamlin ($13,400)
Career at Loudon: 26 starts, 3 wins, 10 top fives, 15 top 10s
Average Finish at Loudon: 9.9
When Hamlin is hot, he is red hot. Yet when Hamlin is cold, he is nowhere to be found in the top 10. Hamlin has more wins than Harvick this season, yet Hamlin has a worse average finishing position. Hamlin has consistently run well at Loudon as he has led a lap in half of his starts. Running at the finish of every race at Loudon, Hamlin has finished outside of the top 15 only three times in his 26 races there. That has earned him the best career average finishing position at Loudon versus all active drivers with a 9.9. Hamlin has scored wins here in 2007, 2012 and 2017. If he wants to flex his muscle against Harvick, this track would be the best place to do it. Hamlin will have a great view at the start by rolling off in second.
Kurt Busch ($10,000)
Career at Loudon: 36 starts, 3 wins, 8 top fives, 15 top 10s
Average Finish at Loudon: 16.1
Busch has had a mixed bag of results at Loudon. While he had a sweep of both races in 2004, he has finished outside of the top 20 in one-third of his starts. Busch’s 2020 season is the quietest season that he has had in a long time. That said, he is also having one of his most consistent seasons ever with an 11.1 average finishing position, which is tied with his 2015 performance. Busch has three top 10s in the last five races at Loudon. While he might not factor into a win, he could be a factor for a top 10, coming from the 10th position.
ALL-STAR TIER: $6,000 – $9,999
William Byron ($8,500)
Career at Loudon: 2 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s
Average Finish at Loudon: 13.0
Driving the No. 24 that made Wonder Boy Jeff Gordon famous, William Byron is wondering where he can find consistency. Byron has significantly regressed from his 2019 stats. If there is a track that could turn around his luck, look no further than Loudon. He has a small sample size here but has performed well. He won the truck race in 2016 and finished third in the 2017 NASCAR Xfinity Series race. Byron has finished 14th and 12th in his two NASCAR Cup starts. Hendrick Motorsports may have regressed since the return to racing, yet Byron has scored a top 10 in the five of the last ten races. Starting 16th, Byron will look to pad on his 10 point lead over Tyler Reddick for the last spot in the playoffs.
BARGAIN TIER: $5,999 and below
JJ Yeley ($3,500)
Career at Loudon: 14 starts, 0 wins, 1 top five, 3 top 10s
Average Finish at Loudon: 26.1
JJ Yeley is my under the radar pick for this week. Yeley has not raced at Loudon since 2015, but he has run well here earlier on in his career. He has scored two top 10s while he was at Joe Gibbs Racing. His best finish, a third place, came in 2008 with Hall of Fame Racing in the rain-shortened July event. Even though Yeley is not going to be competing for a top 10, Loudon would a good track for him to score his first top 20 of the season. Starting in the 29th position, Yeley has a good shot at scoring a top 25 in a Rick Ware Racing car.