FANTASY: Chasing the Magic
SYLVANIA 300 Fantasy Preview
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
It's race week here at New Hampshire Motor Speedway!
When the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series first comes to the track in July, there's a sense of anxious excitement for the event. When it returns in September, the nerves reside a little and we're take pride in providing a memorable experience for our fans to remember as the weather gets colder and the track gets tucked in.
To put it simply: we're ready and so are the drivers!
We're fortunate enough to host one of the 10 races in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, and we approach that responsibility with honor. For us, as well as the drivers, we expect to be in top form in September.
Here's a look at the shape of some of those drivers and the expectations on them for the Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing roster:
The second time around at New Hampshire Motor Speedway always makes for more confident drivers. The Magic Mile is unique in being the only flat one-mile (1.058, technically) oval on the schedule, so a second time back and test sessions from most of the teams should lead to faster speeds.
Colder temperatures will affect the setups, as the 67 degrees forecasted for race day is far colder than most of the test sessions this year, as well as the July race. As drivers tend to say at NHMS, just when you think you have it figured out, you don't.
The Magic Mile races smaller than its size as more of a short track. Like most shorties, drivers have either figured it out or they haven't, so it's best to stick with the drivers that know this track.
- #2 Brad Keselowski - He's not in the Chase and he has something to prove as the defending champion. He hasn't finished worse than sixth in the last four NHMS races.
- #24 Jeff Gordon - He is in the Chase and has something to prove. He's finished no worse than 11th in the last seven races here, so he's a top-10 machine at the Magic Mile.
- #48 Jimmie Johnson - It's Chase Time, which means it's Jimmie Time. With an average finish of 9.4 at NHMS, he's likely to be in the mix for the win.
- #11 Denny Hamlin - The beat goes on in one of the most frustrating seasons for a driver in recent memory. Hamlin might have an 8.8 average finish at New Hampshire, but he hasn't scored a single top-10 this season since Pocono in early June and has five DNFs since then.
- #18 Kyle Busch - Statistics don't support starting Busch at the Magic Mile (15.8 average finish), but he dominates the Nationwide Series here and he finished second in the Camping World RV Sales 301 in July. He's qualified in the top-five in each of the last three NHMS races and really should finish up there.
- #39 Ryan Newman - A crash ended Newman's day in July while running in the top-10. That's where he usually runs with six of the last eight NHMS races ending in the top-10. He has a track-high six poles as well, so he's a good candidate for bonus points.
- #55 Brian Vickers - The No. 55 got very strong later in the July race at the Magic Mile, and Vickers took it to victory lane. This team starts ahead of the game this weekend with his confidence in the Gen-6 on this track.
- #78 Kurt Busch - Like his brother, Busch's 15.4 average finish doesn't jump off the page, but he's won three times at the Magic Mile. With how he's driving the No. 78, he looks like a good choice for a top-10 this week.
- #14 Mark Martin - He won this race in 2009, but that's is only top-10 in the last five years at NHMS. He simply hasn't been very good this year regardless of whether he was in the No. 14 or No. 55.
- #99 Carl Edwards - He'll be the first to tell you he's not good at NHMS. The stats support that with just four top-10s in the 18 starts.
- #17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - It's tough to send the rookie out at such a tricky track, but seriously, who else is available this weekend? He has back-to-back top-10s and is the only decent option on the C-list.
- #34 David Ragan - The list is so bare this week that Ragan's 19th-place finish at NHMS in July tipped off the radar. A finish in the top-20 is worth a shot ... right? ... maybe.
- #36 J.J. Yeley - I'm doing this more for me than anyone else, because I was considering him this week. He has just two finishes better than 24th in 27 races this season. There's no upside here, even if his three top-10s in 12 NHMS starts makes him look like a sneaky pick.
Drivers are listed by car number and not necessarily in rank order.
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