Mash The Gas: New Hampshire Preview

Can Martin Truex Jr. dominate the one mile track of New Hampshire like he has the one and a half mile tracks? [Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images]

Can Martin Truex Jr. dominate the one mile track of New Hampshire like he has the one and a half mile tracks? [Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images]

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returns to a flat track for this Sunday’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway as the drivers contest the Overton’s 301.

Overton’s 301
New Hampshire Motor Speedway
318.46 miles (301 laps)
Sunday, July 16
3 p.m. ET
NBCSN, 2:30 p.m. ET
PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Stage 1 (Ends on lap 75)
Stage 2 (Ends on lap 150)
Final Stage (Ends on lap 301)
New Hampshire is a flat one mile oval that has characteristics similar to the tracks in Phoenix and Richmond and certain drivers have seemed to excel at racing on tracks with limited banking in the turns.

In a new twist, NASCAR has decided to chemically increase the tire grip in the corners to try to give this race a shot at multiple grooves.   Adding the traction sauce to the lower groove in about a four foot wide streak and gooping up the entire middle groove will have the drivers looking for the best way to utilize the new grip.  Adding the traction at other tracks has drawn mixed reviews from the drivers, but it will be interesting to see if this tactic can produce side by side racing on a flat track.  Indianapolis in up next and could really use this help if it works this weekend.

Here are a few drivers to watch in Sunday’s Overton’301 from the New Hampshire Motor Speedway…

Martin Truex Jr. has yet to win a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.  He has found victory lane there in the Xfinity Series but not the Cup Series and after last week’s win at Kentucky, you could tell that Truex are crew chief Cole Pearn were already focusing on New Hampshire.  Wanting to get rid of the notion that the #78 team can only win on the mile and a half tracks, you know these guys are going to be tough on Sunday.  Can they come up with another hat trick this weekend and capture all the stages like they did last weekend, probably not.  But, I’m betting that Truex will end up with one stage win and probably the race win.

Matt Kenseth is finally able to move on.  Throw in the burden of not being able to speak about moving on from Joe Gibbs Racing at the end of the year to an already tough start to the season and it must have been a difficult time at the track for Kenseth.  Now that he has been able to let the news out and it has been announced that Eric Jones will be taking his place, Kenseth can just focus on racing and getting the best out of the #20 to finish out the season.  Currently on the bubble of making the Playoffs, this weekend should be a good chance for the veteran driver to make a move in the standings.  Last week’s performance was almost back to where the team was last season and I expect this weekend to be even better.  Look for Kenseth to battle up front this weekend and contend for the win.

Kyle Larson and the #42 team must be dreading technical inspection at this point.  After failing to make it through tech at Kentucky prior to qualifying, Larson had to start at the back of the pack.  A penalty for speeding sent him to the back again after he raced to the front.  Then after the race, the #42 Chevy was found to have air ducting that NASCAR didn’t like and he was penalized 35 points.  This weekend, after initially scoring the pole, Larson’s car again failed post-qualifying inspection and his time was disallowed.  Will this weekend be another back-to-front performance by the young former point leader?  Will NASCAR continue to bust the team during inspection?  We will have to tune in and see.  I’m kind of thinking that the answer is yes to both of those questions.

Clint Bowyer is a two-time former winner at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway and could be hitting the track at the right time.  Bowyer has been on a steady progression this season as he just keeps getting better and better, spending more time at the sharp end of the grid.  Could this be the weekend for him to return to victory lane?  Other than Richmond, the final race of the regular season, New Hampshire is the only track on the rest of the regular season schedule that Bowyer has won at.  Including those two wins, Bowyer has four top fives, seven top tens and one pole at New Hampshire.  Bowyer is tenth in the point standings and a slightly scary 15th in the Playoff standings.  This should be a good weekend for the #14.

Aric Almirola returns this weekend after suffering back injuries in a wicked crash at Kansas Speedway back in May.  Almirola passed NASCAR’s tests earlier in the week and is ready to roll at New Hampshire.  It is great to see Almirola back in the #43 after what was a terrific start to the season.  The back up drivers have kept the team running well, notably with Darrell “Bubba” Wallace just missing out on a top ten finish at Kentucky last weekend.  Here is hoping Almirola has a safe and successful return to the series and on a side note, here is hoping that someone saw Wallace’s performances and decides to give him a ride.



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