It’s been a while since we’ve had a wrench thrown into our Fantasy NASCAR plans, hasn’t it? Well, that’s the case this weekend, as the weather forecast definitely isn’t looking great for Sunday’s Foxwoods 301, but more on that later. New Hampshire Motor Speedway is a 1.058-mile flat track that lost one of its two events with the schedule change NASCAR decided to make. That’s unfortunate because there’s typically some really good racing here. Anyway, no track on the schedule is extremely similar to New Hampshire, but if you had to make some comparisons, Phoenix and Richmond are the closest. Martin Truex, Jr. has led a ton of laps here as of late (513 over the last four races) but is still searching for that win and giant lobster. Will this be finally be the weekend?
We’re scheduled to run 301 laps here at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday, but Mother Nature may have other plans. The rain forecast does not look good for Sunday, although if you’re an optimist, the rain chances did go from 100% on Sunday a couple of days ago to 90% now. NASCAR moved up the start time for this weekend’s race to 1:00 pm ET, which is right in the middle of a forecasted “scattered thunderstorms window.” Please note that all projections in this post are based on the assumption that Sunday’s race will go the scheduled distance (unless otherwise noted). That means 75.25 FPTS for laps led and approximately 130 FPTS for fastest laps (depending on cautions).
GPP Drivers I Love For The Loudon New Hampshire Foxwoods 301
Kevin Harvick ($11,000) – Any time we’re at a shorter track like Loudon, dominator points should be on the forefront of your mind–and rightfully so. However, you can’t overlook place differential potential, and Kevin Harvick might be the perfect combination of the two on Sunday. The #4 Ford is going to roll off the grid from back in 14th whenever the Foxwoods 301 goes green, but that car is really, really fast in race trim. Any time Kevin Harvick stays on the track longer than anyone else, the competition should be concerned, and that was the case this weekend (even though idiot Rick Allen thought it was because he’s “comfortable” because of his wins earlier in the year). Kevin had the 4th-best ten-lap average in Practice #2 on Saturday and then ranked #1 on that chart in Happy Hour with the 5th-best overall speed average. My only concern here is that Harvick didn’t put up many fastest laps at Loudon last year, but still, he’s a two-time winner here and has finished 5th or better in five of the last seven races at this track. And with so many people gravitating towards Kyle Busch and Truex this weekend, Harvick could end up being an off-sequence pick–and a great one at that.
Kyle Larson ($9,900) – I was big on Kyle Larson at Kentucky last weekend, and although he didn’t quite get that top 5 I was expecting out of him, he was still a great off-sequence play in DraftKings and even helped me take down the Spotter contest and walk away with $10,000. This week we’re at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and I’m yet again all over Kyle Larson. We’re in a similar predicament as Kentucky this week, as Larson qualified mid-pack, he’s under-priced in DraftKings, but he’s probably going to go under-owned as well because of Kyle Busch ($11,600) and Martin Truex, Jr. ($11,300) costing so much. With that being said, it’s hard to imagine Larson not being on of the top scorers here in the Foxwoods 301. When you combine last year’s two Loudon races with the Phoenix and Richmond races this year–somewhat similar tracks–Larson has the 4th-best average running position (9.3) along with an average of 22.8 fastest laps per race (4th-best). His record here at New Hampshire is solid, too, with three 2nd-place finishes along with a 3rd-place result in his first start here. When you combine the probably place differential points along with the potential for 30+ fastest laps, it’s looking to be a good DraftKings day out of Kyle Larson yet again this weekend.
Erik Jones ($8,200) – Maybe for the second week in a row it’ll be Lucky #7 Qualifying Position (Ryan Blaney finished 2nd last week after starting 7th). Erik Jones will roll off the grid from 7th here at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday, which in and of itself is going to keep his ownership percentage low on DraftKings. That’s why I love him as a GPP play. Currently, this #20 team is one of the hottest in the garage, with four straight finishes of 7th or better, including that win at Daytona. As far as Loudon goes, Jones had major problems in this race one year ago, but in the fall race he started 8th, had an average running position of 5th, and ended up finishing 6th. Even more importantly, though: he put up 33 fastest laps. This weekend, the #20 Toyota was super strong in both practice sessions, ending up with the 3rd-best ten-lap average in each, and Erik even had thew 3rd-best overall average speed in Happy Hour as well. Potentially getting a top 5 finish out of a driver in this price range is huge, and will help you win a lot of money, too.
Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. ($7,400) – Whenever we come to a flat track, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. is one of the mid-tier drivers that should definitely be on your radar. He’s excelled at this track type in the lower series, and while his performance in the Cup races hasn’t been spectacular, they’ve been pretty good considering the talent level of the driver. Looking specifically at Loudon, Stenhouse has been a top 15 machine here, with five results between 9th and 15th in five of the last eight races, including top 15s in both races here last season. Another aspect you really have to like about Stenhouse right now is how he’s been finishing over the last few months: if you take away his Kentucky and Michigan performances, Stenhouse hasn’t finished worse than 18th since Richmond back in April. He qualified 23rd for this weekend’s Foxwoods 301, and if he can end up 15th or so, we’re looking at 37 FPTS in DraftKings out of a guy that’s probably not going to be very highly owned. Sign me up for some of that!
Salary Cap Relief at New Hampshire
You can have some fun with your lineups with the lower-priced drivers this weekend. We saw two pretty major wrecks/equipment failures happen in Happy Hour on Saturday, and that could definitely happen during the race as well. The obvious choices down here are David Ragan ($5,400) and Michael McDowell ($5,200), who qualified 30th and 29th, respectively. However, there are some negatives with those two here at Loudon; Ragan has just one finish better than 29th in the last seven races here while McDowell was one of those drivers that killed his primary car during Happy Hour. With that being said, Michael has finished between 23rd and 26th in his last three starts at this track, so he could put up a good amount of FPTS for his price tag on Sunday.
One off-sequence pick I like is Ross Chastain ($5,100). He’s just one of those guys that stays out of trouble and typically comes away with a good finish. Chastain isn’t going to go out there and compete for a top 20, but at a $5,100 price tag, you really can’t expect that. The #15 Chevrolet will roll off the grid from 32nd here on Sunday, so if Chastain finishes his typical 26th-28th, we’re looking at 24-18 base FPTS in DraftKings. Ross was 28th-fastest in Practice #2 on Saturday, for what it’s worth. If you’re looking for a punt option, Blake Jones ($4,600) starts dead last, so he can’t score negative points. He’s in the bankrupt #23 Toyota, though, and was the slowest in both practice sessions here on Saturday. If there’s carnage on Sunday, though, and Jones avoids it, he could put up double-digit FPTS. For what it’s worth, Gray Gaulding finished 34th in this car at Phoenix and 35th at Richmond (somewhat similar tracks).
Unfortunately, it looks like this weekend’s race is going to come down to one thing that we can’t really predict its effect on the race: the rain. NASCAR moved the start time for Sunday’s Foxwoods 301 up to 1:00 pm ET, but even then we might not be able to get this thing started. And if we do, the chances of racing the full 301 laps isn’t great. Of course, the forecasts can change, and DW’s insane vortex theory could do something (it won’t).
There’s a few things to consider when it comes to DraftKings and a rain-shortened race. First, dominator points get cut by a significant amount, so that puts a little more importance on place differential FPTS. Additionally, that opens the door for there being just one dominator, as opposed to the normal two or three. Finally, whenever a race is rain-shortened, there’s always drivers up front that don’t really belong there because a good strategy call by the crew chief. What does this mean for Fantasy NASCAR? Don’t be afraid to take a chance with an off-sequence pick (or multiple)!
The optimal DraftKings strategy at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on a “normal weekend” is to have two dominators in your lineup, although there’s always the possibility that a third could emerge. The two favorites this weekend are Kyle Busch ($11,600) and Martin Truex, Jr. ($11,300), who are the two highest drivers in the game and also both start up front. You could try and be contrarian and only go with one of the two, but chances are, these two are going to put up the most points on Sunday. They have the best cars in the field and they’re both dominant at this track, and there’s really no denying that. As mentioned before, though, Kevin Harvick ($11,000) might have something to say about that this weekend.
The real wildcard this weekend is Kurt Busch ($8,500), who is sitting on the pole for this year’s Foxwoods 301. Last year, the pole sitters led 137 and 187 laps in the two Loudon races, but in 2016, the pole sitters led 1 and 31 laps. Carl Edwards started on the pole in both 2015 races here and led 19 laps in each event, and then in 2014 the pole sitters led 62 and 78 laps. So really we’re only looking at two, possibly three (and a half?) dominators from the pole in the last four years of races here. As far as Kurt Busch goes this weekend, his #41 Ford looked pretty good in the final practice session on Saturday, and we can’t forget how rock solid these Stewart-Haas Fords have been on shorter tracks in 2018. Kurt also led 98 laps at Richmond this year–which is somewhat similar to Loudon. Still, NHMS has been dominated by Toyotas lately, and that’s probably going to happen this weekend as well. I’ll have some Kurt Busch exposure on Sunday, but it’ll be on those lineups where I have just one of Kyle Busch/Truex/Harvick.
Driver Point Projections for the Foxwoods 301
The following chart takes into account the very basics: the starting position and the projected finish of each driver. The projected finishes are averaged from five different ranking systems, using both mathematical equations as well as personal rankings. This chart also includes the average projected base + laps led + fastest laps DraftKings FPTS as well as the dollar per FPT. You can click the headers below to sort the chart by that attribute. By default it is sorted by average projected FPTS.
|Driver||DraftKings Salary||Avg Proj FPTS||Starting Position||Avg. Projected Finish||Proj Laps Led||Proj Fastest Laps||Dollar Per FPT|
|Martin Truex Jr||$11,300||111.5||2||01.2||124||69||$101|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||$7,400||29.6||23||19.2||0||2||$250|