After the maiden Sprint Cup race at Kentucky NASCAR returns to a very familiar venue this weekend for the LENOX Industrial Tools 301. NASCAR’s top series has been competing at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, NH since 1993 and have been making the stop twice a year since 1995 making Sunday’s event the 33rd race at the track. Jimmie Johnson is the defending champion in this race with Clint Bowyer the winner of the last Sprint Cup event at New Hampshire (the Sylvania 300 last fall).

The all time wins leader at New Hampshire among active drivers is Jeff Burton with four wins, followed by Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch with three wins apiece. Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman and Clint Bowyer have two wins each and single race winners are Denny Hamlin, Mark Martin, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Greg Biffle, Joey Logano, and Joe Nemechek. There have been no multiple race winners in the last four races at New Hampshire which have been won by Johnson, Bowyer, Martin and Logano.

Denny Hamlin has the best average finish among active drivers (7.60) which includes a win, four top fives and 7 top tens. He’s never finished worse than 15th in ten career races here. Hamlin only has the #4 average finish in the last four races with finishes of 2, 14, 2, 15. The top average finish in the recent New Hampshire events is Kurt Busch with a 6.25 average finish (12,3,3,4).

We typically give greater emphasis to recent performance (eg: we’re not going to be using Jeff Burton in our mix despite the fact he’s got more wins here than any active driver) so we’ll have to consider Jeff Gordon (6.75 L4 races) and Kyle Busch (8.00 L4 races). Curiously, none of the top four average finish drivers have a win here—this sort of consistency is something we’ll highlight for use in matchups but personally drivers who put up good averages at a track without winning concern me for the purpose of ‘to win’ wagering. The NASCAR points system has been revised somewhat to give greater weight to race victories, but its of greater benefit to drivers ‘on the bubble’. There’s nothing more frustrating than betting on a driver ‘To Win’ and have him run up front all day but act like he’s content to finish in the top 5 and not battle for the win.

The goal with our ‘early previews’ is to get some idea of who we’ll be focusing on during the week leading up to the race and see if there’s anyone we want to consider taking a wagering position on when opening lines are released. Qualifying isn’t a huge deal at New Hampshire, at least based on data from recent races—5 of the last 10 races were won from start positions 1 through 9, 5 were won from 10th or worse with one race won from the #24 starting position and another from #26. Five of the 32 races all time at New Hampshire were won from the 30th position or worse. So qualifying won’t be a big part of our evaluation this week and we’ll focus on practice to see if we can figure out who has the ‘fast car’.

In terms of early week wagers, none of the likely candidates are ‘below the radar’ choices. Clint Bowyer may be worth a look—he’s still not quite reached the ‘household name’ status of Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart or Denny Hamlin but is a solid all around driver with proven success here at New Hampshire. To paraphrase the legendary Bob Barker, if the ‘price is right’ on the #33 we may take a position early.

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