After a weekend off from racing, the NASCAR Cup Series is back for some kind-of-short track action! It depends what you consider a short track, because you could make the case either way for New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Commonly referred to as Loudon, this track is 1.058-miles in length and is a flat track. The most similar track that we’ve raced at this year is Phoenix, and Joey Logano went to victory lane there back in February. You could also throw in Martinsville since it’s short and flat, but Phoenix is definitely the most similar. Mr. Hot Streak Aric Almirola is on the pole for Sunday’s race at New Hampshire and you can click here for the full starting lineup for Sunday’s race if you need it.
*Please note: the picks and suggestions below are my opinions and strategy for the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. These are not meant to sway your thinking in any way, but rather give you insight into the drivers I am most likely to pick on race day.*
Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest Picks for Loudon
Kevin Harvick ($13,100) – Yep, I’m dipping in to the well again here. Harvick has been my top play all season long, and for good reason: he’s the most reliable Fantasy NASCAR driver out there. Just look at last Thursday night at Kansas: he had an awful race despite starting on the pole, and still scored 100 points in the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. As far as this Sunday goes, Harv starts in 7th and he’s won the last two New Hampshire races. He’s also finished 5th or better in seven of the last nine. Yep, lock. Not to mention, the #4 Ford was one of the best cars at Phoenix earlier this year. I fully expect Harvick to score 100+ Slingshot points again this race.
Martin Truex, Jr. ($12,300) – Last year at Loudon, Martin Truex, Jr. had an off race. He started 6th and finished 6th and led zero laps. That’s an off race for him here. In the five races prior, Truex led a combined 596 laps and had an average finish of 7th at this one-mile half track. This weekend, the #19 Toyota will roll off the grid from 11th, and the place differential potential, Truex has the opportunity to be one of the highest scoring Slingshot Fantasy NASCAR drivers on Sunday. At Phoenix this year, Martin wrecked and ended up finishing 32nd, but don’t forget he finished 7th and 3rd in the two Stages of that race. At Martinsville in June–which is kind of similar to New Hampshire since it’s a short, flat track–Truex went to victory lane. I’m expecting him to at least challenge for a top 5 finish here at Loudon on Sunday.
Ryan Blaney ($11,000) – For the last couple years, I have been on the Ryan Blaney bandwagon when it comes to short tracks. He’s emerged as one of the best on these types of tracks. And here at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, he’s gotten progressively better lately, with finishes of 4th, 7th, and 9th over the last three starts. Blaney has also finished inside the top 10 in seven of the last eight Stages breaks at Loudon. As far as similar tracks this season, the #12 Ford was one of the fastest all weekend at Phoenix but got taken out early by that incident with Keselowski and Hamlin, and then at Martinsville, Young Ryan Blaney came home 2nd. This weekend, there’s not much to dislike about Blaney, especially considering he starts 12th and has place differential potential. If I had to mention something I don’t like, it’s the fact that Todd Gordon is on the pit box, and he hasn’t sniffed a top 5 here with Logano since the 2016 season. If that bugs me too much before the race on Sunday, I’ll pivot to Erik Jones ($10,200) in this spot, who starts back in 17th and finished 3rd here last season.
Matt Kenseth ($7,600) – First and foremost, IF I pivot to Jones instead of Blaney, I’m going to pivot to Tyler Reddick ($8,400) in this spot instead of Kenseth. Reddick showed legitimate top 10 speed, if not top 5, at Phoenix earlier this year, and Richard Childress Racing has been better than normal at flat tracks for the last three or four years. But if I stick with Blaney, I’m going to roll the dice with Matt Kenseth in this spot. Here’s the thing about Kenseth: he’s starting to run better lately, and he’s been really, really good at Loudon. I’m talking top 6 finishes in six of his last seven starts, with the only exception being a 15th in 2018 when he started back in 31st. Now, do I expect Kenseth to finish top 6 on Sunday? Absolutely not, but I think a top 10 is within reach. Back at Phoenix earlier this year, Kyle Larson had a great car and ended up finishing 4th with this #42 Chevrolet. I’m hoping some of that speed follows this team to Loudon this weekend.
Daniel Suarez ($6,000) – My boy! As Joe Gibbs Racing is getting back finding that speed we’ve become accustomed to, Daniel Suarez has followed along for the ride, as he now has three finishes of 23rd or better in the last four points-paying Cup Series races. That’s pretty good for a low-tier Fantasy NASCAR option in place differential games when you’re starting back in 37th each week. As far as Loudon goes, short tracks are really the only venues that I’d even consider Suarez this season, so I’m going to roll the dice with him on Sunday. For what it’s worth, Danny ended up 21st at Phoenix this year, and here at New Hampshire he does have an average finish of 13.8–although that’s obviously while running in much better equipment.