The first race of the Chase at Chicagoland Speedway was somewhat surprising, but we should see a pretty predictable race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend, where the Sylvania 300 will serve as the second leg of this opening Challenger Round. Loudon is a track that we typically see the same faces finish up front, and I can almost guarantee that most of those on Sunday will be Chasers. There are a few sleepers that we should keep an eye on, though, so let’s go over them.
Fantasy Sleepers for Loudon 2
Austin Dillon – This #3 team had a pretty good month of August but September has been a completely different story: thus far they’ve came home 22nd at Darlington, 27th at Richmond, and 43rd at Chicago since the calendar page turned. There’s nowhere to go but up from here, and with that being said, they have to be pretty thankful that we are at Loudon this weekend for the Sylvania 300. Believe it or not, this is Austin Dillon’s best track on the Sprint Cup circuit. Now obviously he isn’t very far into his career, but the fact that Austin has been able to post an average finish of 11th in three career Cup starts here is pretty impressive. Even more impressive is the consistency; in those three races, Dillon hasn’t ended up worse than 14th, and he posted a career-best result of 8th here in the spring race. Oh, and don’t worry if the #3 Chevrolet doesn’t look very impressive in qualifying this weekend: Austin has never started better than 22nd at a Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire.
Aric Almirola – Aric Almirola and this #43 team are really showing some strength this season. Yeah, they’ve only posted three top 10 finishes thus far in the 2015 season–two of which were also top 5s, by the way–but 21 top 20s in the 27 Cup races this year is actually very impressive for this team. Even better is the fact that Aric has came home 11th or better in each of the last three races, including his 10th-place run at Chicagoland. Looking at his statistics here at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Almirola has had some bright spots over the years, including a 6th-place finish in this event one year ago and a 5th-place effort back in the July 2013 race. Overall, Aric’s average finish here at Loudon is 19.1 over ten career starts. It’s going largely unnoticed but over the last six Sprint Cup events, this #43 Ford has the 10th-best average finish with 12.0–which is better than some of the big name drivers such as Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson.
Kyle Larson – Yeah, this kid missed the Chase, but he’s finally starting to heat up and it actually wouldn’t surprise me if he finally got to victory lane before this 2015 season is over with. After his 7th-place run at Chicagoland last weekend, Larson has now finished 12th or better in each of the last three Sprint Cup races, and he’s ended up 13th or better in seven of the last eight. Getting that kind of consistency from a mid-tier driver like Larson is quite valuable in the fantasy racing world. Here at Loudon, Kyle finished 3rd and 2nd in the two events ran during his rookie campaign but then disappointed mightily here back in July, ending up 31st. We’ll call that a fluke, as I have Larson as a high teens pick heading into the Sylvania 300 race weekend.