New Hampshire Motor Speedway is a carpenter’s dream — flat as a board and easy to nail. Twelve degrees of banking in the turns and two degrees on the straightaways make this track test your equipment, especially the brakes.
The drivers that do well on the road courses usually do well at New Hampshire, due to its flat turns, as the drivers roll their race cars into the turns using the gears and minimal braking to save their equipment.
Kyle Busch had the 10th fastest time in first practice, but he somehow put it together to get the pole for Sunday’s race. Throw caution to the wind with Busch; his average start for his career is 11.7 with one pole, one win, six top fives and eight top 10s. His average finish is 15.1.
First practice top speeds:
#48 Jimmie Johnson 135.313
#42 Kyle Larson 135.212
#24 Jeff Gordon 135.164
#1 Jamie McMurray 135.131
#4 Kevin Harvick 135.131
#15 Clint Bowyer 134.939
#2 Brad Keselowski 134.782
#55 Brian Vickers 134.758
#5 Kasey Kahne 134.734
#18 Kyle Busch 134.696
#18 Kyle Busch 138.130
#48 Jimmie Johnson 137.790
# 11 Denny Hamlin 137.081
#14 Tony Stewart 137.076
#1 Jamie McMurray 137.017
#22 Joey Logano 136.815
#2 Brad Keselowski 136.805
#15 Clint Bowyer 136.702
#78 Martin Truex Jr. 136.629
#5 Kasey Kahne 136.174
Jimmie Johnson was fastest in the first practice and is a big threat to take the checkers on Sunday. Jimmie has the third best driver ranking among all active drivers with three wins, nine top fives and 17 top 10s. His average finish at New Hampshire is second best at 9.2.
Jeff Gordon has three career wins at “The Magic Mile”, but none since the last century. Jeff unloaded fast with the third best time. Gordon rates second in driver ratings and with good measure, as he tops the charts with the best average finish the past five years at 7.4.
Denny Hamlin and flat tracks go together like hamburgers and fries. Denny starts third with two wins, seven top fives and 10 top 10s. His average finish is 9.0 at New Hampshire.
Brian Vickers won this event last year and is a big threat to win on Sunday. Brian posted the eighth fastest practice speed. His career stats of one win, three top fives and four top 10s make him a sleeper pick and he should be priced right. Brian spent a lot of time on road courses two years ago, so he should do well on Sunday.
Chevrolet leads all manufacturers in wins with 18, but Toyota has won the last four at New Hampshire with Kasey Kahne, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Brian Vickers.
The front row produces the most wins at New Hampshire with 15 total and Ryan Newman was the last driver to win from the pole in 2011.
Goodyear will be using tire code D 4564 for the left side and D 4566 for the right side. It’s the same tire compound used at New Hampshire since 2012.
Hendrick Motorsports did the tire testing for New Hampshire, and it showed during practice and qualifying. Outside of Dale Earnhardt Jr., who qualified 28th, they’re a sure bet to have three of their drivers finish in the top 10. The alliance teams of Stewart-Haas and Ganassi have benefitted from this also, so keep that in mind when you set your roster, as they try to dethrone the stranglehold the Toyotas have had the past four races.
This race usually doesn’t have many cautions and the length of it makes track position crucial. You can’t make any mistakes if you want to finish well with only a 301 miles on Sunday.
Here are my Ice Picks for New Hampshire:
Jimmie Johnson- has been fast everywhere at New Hampshire.
Jeff Gordon- a shoe-in for a top five.
Kasey Kahne- has won here before.
Denny Hamlin- flat track expert and has won here before.
Tony Stewart- has the best driver rating at New Hampshire among all drivers.
Jamie McMurray- was fast during practice and it showed in qualifying.
Joey, Logano- was fast during practice but did spin out, but he qualified well.
Kyle Larson- should get you good points for a filler driver.