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FANTASY: Bringing the Magic to NH

Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Ryan Newman has met Loudon the Lobster a few times in his career. Photo: NHMS/HHP

LENOX Industrial Tools 301 Fantasy Preview

Wow!  It's crazy here at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this week.  After months of writing fantasy NASCAR blogs about far off race tracks, I finally get to talk about us!

At this point, the infield is filled with campers, the display lot is packed with tents and the track for the SYLVANIA SilverStar zXe Global RallyCross is shaping up.  Despite not being able to set up shop until the Saturday before race week, some campers arrived a day early last Friday in hopes of finding the best possible spot.  In recent days, the camping lots have filled up and the haulers have started arriving in packs.  All we're really missing are the fans, but they'll be here soon enough.

Tomorrow, the weekend officially kicks off with FanFest, where we'll welcome back New England racing great Joey Logano.  The Sprint Cup Series driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota stepped up big for his home track.  AJ Allmendinger was unable to attend the FanFest event due to his recent suspension, so Logano agreed on short notice to make sure fans had a guest for the event.

Friday, we'll have our usual Sprint Cup Pole Day with qualifying going off at 3:40 p.m..  Saturday, the NASCAR Nationwide Series (3:30 p.m.) and Whelen Modified Tour (1 p.m.) will slice up their usual twin-bill to allow the Global RallyCross Championship to make its debut at the track with an evening race at 7 p.m.

Sunday, of course, is the big day.  It's a day we've been waiting for since we arrived at the track on Monday, Sept. 26, 2011, to find it abandoned and waiting for a long winter.  The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is back and will go green at 1 p.m. for the LENOX Industrial Tools 301.

However, with the majority of fans heading here at some point this weekend, it's best to get those fantasy picks done and out of the way.

Strategy: "The Magic Mile" is a 1.058-mile flat track that rewards track position and strong driving ability.  It's very much different from last week at Daytona, because NHMS doesn't notoriously produce too many wrecks and is a difficult track at which to make passes.

(I'll be honest.  As someone that lives this track everyday, I'm going to try to skip looking at too many stats and simply go by what I know about NHMS.)

A-List

Start

#11 Denny Hamlin - I was surprised to find out that Hamlin had the highest average of Yahoo fantasy points over the last five years at NHMS.  I shouldn't have been though, even last year when he was struggling, he grabbed a third place finish here in July.

#14 Tony Stewart - "Smoke" is a driver of momentum.  It's hard to turn down a guy that won last week and finished first and second in two NHMS races last season.

#48 Jimmie Johnson - The No. 48 team is one that does a great job with strategy and track position, which instantly puts Johnson as a favorite at NHMS.  Three Cup wins at "The Magic Mile" speak to his ability to race here.

Park

#99 Carl Edwards - When he visited in May for a Goodyear Tire Test, I asked Carl if he could learn anything to get better on this track.  He said with a smile, "I struggle in qualifying.  I struggle with pit stops.  I struggle in the corners...but other than that, I do pretty well here!"  When a guy admits he has no success at a track, you should listen to him.

B-List

Start

#15 Clint Bowyer - Two of Bowyer's six Cup wins have come at NHMS.  He's had a few hiccups in the last two races, but could easily get his impressive season back on track this Sunday.

#20 Joey Logano - This is Logano's home track and the sight of his only Cup win for a long time (until he won at Pocono last month).  He's not exactly a favorite, but could definitely be a rewarding pick if he runs well.

#39 Ryan Newman - "The Rocketman" does about as well as his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate/boss.  He won both poles last year at NHMS and went on to visit our Victory Lane last July for the third time in his Cup career.

#56 Martin Truex Jr. - Like Logano, Truex Jr. had success here long before the Sprint Cup when he was a race winner in the K&N Pro Series East.  He has had some success at "The Magic Mile" at the Cup level and with his vastly improved season, he's poised to be a surprise this Sunday.

Park

#5 Kasey Kahne - He ran well here early in his career, but hasn't seemed to do well at "The Magic Mile" since.  I expect him to continue to surge in the second half, so he's better saved for a track where he routinely does better.

#22 AJ Allmendinger - For those that live in a cave, Allmendinger won't race this week because he's suspended.

C-List

Start

#22 Sam Hornish Jr. - The guy that will race in Allmendinger's stead ironically visited New Hampshire in late May, so perhaps that's a sign.  Either way, New Hampshire tends to be a tough track for C-Listers to do well, so Hornish Jr. is a good choice for two reasons: he's in a good piece of equipment, and he's raced here before in a Cup car.

#55 Brian Vickers - He's doing everything he can to get back in a full-time Cup car every time he has the opportunity to enter a race.  He has two top-fives in three races this season, so he's a great option this week.

Park

#43 Aric Almiorla - With a few comparable drivers in the field, Almiorla is best saved for a week with fewer C-List options.

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The picks in this blog are based around Yahoo's Fantasy Auto Racing game and its standard scoring rules.  The preview is designed to provide suggestions, while still encouraging managers to make their own decisions.  Once sorted into Yahoo's A, B and C-Lists, they are organized based on car number and not directly associated with a rank value.

You can sign up and play for free, by visiting http://racing.fantasysports.yahoo.com.  If signed up, the "Fans of NHMS" group may be joined by clicking here.