Will the Fearsome Threesome Continue Their Dominance at New Hampshire?

by Angela Campbell On Thu, Jul. 19, 2018

Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Overton's 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 16, 2017 in Loudon, New Hampshire. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images.

Martin Truex Jr. captured his fourth win of the season last week at Kentucky Speedway to cement his position as one of the top three 2018 Playoff contenders. He joins the dominating duo of Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch who have five wins each. To put it simply, 19 races into the 2018 season and three drivers have won 14 of those races.

They are joined by Clint Bowyer with two wins while Joey Logano, Eric Jones, and Austin Dillon have one victory each. That’s seven drivers locked into the Playoffs with only seven races remaining in the regular season.

Will the Fearsome Threesome continue their domination at New Hampshire or will a new contender arise?

The top three have led a combined 2,552 laps this year and Harvick leads the way with a series-best 1,040 laps led. Busch is not far behind with 948 while Truex has led 564 laps. Busch has the second-best driver rating (100.8) at the 1.058-mile track with three previous wins while Harvick has two wins and the fifth-best driver rating (96.5).

Truex has never won at the track but grabbed the pole last July and has three top 10 finishes in the last three races. A win here would have special meaning for the defending series champion.

“I would have to call New Hampshire my first home track,” Truex said, “because I have been going there for a long time – back as a kid watching my father (Martin Truex Sr.) race. Winning at New Hampshire would be the biggest one of them all. It’s no Daytona 500 but it ranks right up there for me.”

We could see a new competitor in victory lane from among the active drivers who are winless this year but have had past success at Loudon, including Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman and Kasey Kahne.

Hamlin has three previous victories at New Hampshire and is the defending race winner. He also has the series-best driver rating at the track (103.6) with nine top fives and 14 top 10s. Hamlin is currently ninth in the standings but this could be his opportunity to clinch a Playoff spot.

“We’ve obviously had a strong showing at New Hampshire these past few seasons,” he said, “and our FedEx Racing team is returning with the goal to repeat last year’s success. We were able to come from the back and take home the win last July, and we’ll do whatever it takes to do that again so we can lock in our spot to the 2018 Playoffs.”

Jimmie Johnson, searching for his first victory this year, has won this race three times but has not claimed the checkered flag here since 2010. But, in his favor, he has scored four top fives in his last five starts at New Hampshire and enters the race with the third-best driver rating (100.5).

Johnson characterized the track as “one of the three toughest tracks to compete on for me. If you are up front and you have track position on your side, your day will go well. If you are fourth on back, it’s a crazy race. Maintaining your line and racing in traffic is just crazy.”

There have been 24 different Monster Energy NASCAR Cup drivers who have won at New Hampshire. Could someone new add their name to this list?

Kyle Larson, who finished in second place at both of the New Hampshire races last year, is poised to break through for his first win of the season.

“I hope we can keep up our recent solid races at Loudon. Last season we had really good races there, with two runner-up finishes, and ran towards the front most of both races. We’ve been bringing fast Chevy’s to the track and are definitely close to scoring a win.”

Tune into the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 Sunday afternoon as we get one step closer to the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. Win and you’re in. With everything on the line, anything can happen.

Follow @angiecampbell_ for the latest NASCAR news and feature stories.

 

** The opinions expressed on this site are not necessarily those of the publisher. All comments other than website related problems need to be directed to the author. (c)SpeedwayMedia.com. **

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