Matty’s Picks 2013 – Vol. 16 Camping World RV Sales 301 – New Hampshire Motor Speedway – July 14, 2013By Matt LaFlair
On to New Hampshire this week before a much needed one week break before the series heads to the Brickyard.
The site of Sunday’s Camping World RV Sales 301 is the one-mile flat track in Loudon, New Hampshire. It is the eighth and final stop during the regular season at a track which also hosts a race in this year’s Chase – the two tracks not in the regular season are the first and last races in this year’s chase – Chicago and Homestead.
The funny part about all this is 7 different drivers have taken the new Gen-6 care to Victory lane on the chase tracks so far this season, and all but the Cinderella in David Ragan are in the top 10 in the points as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to New Hampshire.
There is a bit of importance at the one-miler this week in the sense that a year ago, 7 of the top-10 finishers in the July race at New Hampshire, punched a ticket to the Chase in September. Its also noted that each member of the top 10 in the posts standings after the 19th race of the 2012 season also moved on to the NASCAR Postseason, so as boring of a race as this might be, there is some significance in finishing well in this race.
New Hampshire’s summer race has seen 8 different winners in as many seasons and 10 straight different winners overall. Last year’s race-winners are both outside the top-10 in points, that’s Kasey Kahne and Denny Hamlin.
Not much to recap this week because of the relatively boring race at Daytona last week. My Winner Pick, the hottest guy in NASCAR right now, Kevin Harvick collected his eighth-consecutive top-10 finish after he finished third last weekend. Harvick started in 26th, and quickly dropped back in the field in the early stages of the race. A fuel-only pit stop on lap 127 would vault the team to 4th were he would remain for the green-white-checkered finish, picking up one spot on the final lap and finishing third.
Harvick’s teammate, Paul Menard was my Dark Horse and finished dead last in 43rd after experiencing a terminal engine issue early in the 161-lap event.
New Hampshire Picks
I had a roster of guys on my list on Thursday when I previewed the race with Greg on the Prime Sports Network, and promised I would narrow down my picks for my column this week.
As far as the Winner Picks went, I had four guys on my list who I thought were not longshots and had the best chance of winning on Sunday. Those guys were Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Tony Stewart, and Jeff Gordon. Only one of those guys has qualified inside the top-10 and that’s Jeff Gordon, but that stat doesn’t scare me because 5 of the last 8 races at New Hampshire have been won from starting spots 10th or worse, including 32nd by Denny Hamlin last season.
It was Clint Bowyer who was the only one of the four guys to be shown in the top 10 in both practice sessions yesterday, and it’s Clint Bowyer who I’m going with as my Winner Pick.
• Two wins, four top five’s, six top 10s; one pole
• Average finish of 15.1
• Average Running Position of 12.0, sixth-best
• Driver Rating of 97.2, fifth-best
• 230 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
• Average Green Flag Speed of 124.466 mph, sixth-fastest
Considering he was 3rd and 4th here last season in his first year with Michael Waltrip Racing, he’s 2nd in points WITHOUT A WIN, and the practice speeds, he’s my winner pick this week.
Dark Horse Pick
He might not be a Dark Horse any longer given the practice speeds and the fact that he will start the Camping World RV Sales 301 outside the front row, but he started the week as a 25 to 1 longshot and he’s my Dark Horse again this week.It was only a matter of time before we talked about Kurt Busch in the top 10 in points. This team is making strides, and jumping 5 spots in the points after last week’s run at Daytona is awesome for this one-car team. It’s remarkable to see these Furniture Row guys mix up the powerhouses like Hendrick, Roush, Gibbs, etc. with this team putting together some solid finishes since their unfortunate luck back in May at Talladega.
The New Hampshire Stats look good with Kurt’s 3 wins and 7 Top 5′s.
• Average finish of 14.8
• 835 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most
• 479 Quality Passes, fifth-most
Granted, the majority of Kurt’s success at New Hampshire came with Penske and Roush, this one-car team has shown they belong in the talk with some of the powerhouse teams over the past two months, and Kurt is my Top Longshot again this week.
That’s all for this week, so until we head to the Brickyard in TWO weeks…You Stay Classy NASCAR NATION!