If there’s any track in NASCAR where parity reigns, it’s New Hampshire Motor Speedway – where 11 different winners have gone to Victory Lane in the past 11 Sprint Cup Series races. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few clear favorites to get it done in Sunday’s 5-Hour Energy 301. Up next: The 5 contenders to win.
Getty ImagesJared Wickerham
5. Denny Hamlin
Denny Hamlin comes to New Hampshire riding the momentum of back-to-back third-place finishes the past two weekends at Kentucky and Daytona, respectively. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver historically performs his best on short, flat tracks, as evidenced by his multiple wins at Martinsville and Richmond – two venues that fit that description. While the flat 1.058-mile New Hampshire oval might not technically be considered a short track in the purest sense, it’s pretty darn close. It’s not surprising, therefore, that Hamlin is a two-time winner at NHMS, having gone to Victory Lane in both 2007 and 2012.
Getty ImagesNick Laham
4. Brad Keselowski
Last year’s dominant winner of the first New Hampshire race, Brad Keselowski will no doubt arrive in the Granite State this weekend with a bit of a chip on his shoulder after seeing an excellent shot at victory last Saturday night at Kentucky go by the wayside due in large part to multiple issues on pit road. Keselowski, who was seeking his third Kentucky win in just five starts at the 1.5-mile track, finished sixth after leading 62 of 267 laps.
Getty ImagesNick Laham
3. Jimmie Johnson
Is there any track on the Sprint Cup Series schedule where Jimmie Johnson isn’t a favorite to win? Yes, there actually are a few, but New Hampshire isn’t among them. The six-time champion is a proven master of Loudon, having conquered the ‘Magic Mile’ three times in 26 starts. While Johnson hasn’t won here since 2010, he’s been a factor in almost every race at NHMS and should be so once again this weekend.
Getty ImagesJeff Curry
2. Joey Logano
Joey Logano led 73 laps and won last September’s Chase for the Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire, and returns to the 1.058-mile oval on the heels of an impressive second-place finish at Kentucky Speedway, where he was passed by eventual race winner with Kyle Busch with less than 20 laps to go. Logano, who hails from Middletown, Connecticut and considers Loudon to be somewhat of a home race, picked up his first career Sprint Cup Series victory here in a rain-shortened event back in 2009.
Getty ImagesJonathan Ferrey
1. Kyle Busch
A winner of two of the past three races, including Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway, Kyle Busch comes into the New Hampshire weekend as easily the hottest driver on the Sprint Cup tour. His sense of urgency to win or at least finish well remains high, as he has eight races to race his way into the top 30 in points and in so doing secure a berth in the 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup. Busch is 87 points out 30th and at the current rate would need a finish of roughly 17th in the remaining eight regular-season races to make the Chase. Busch has a lone win at Loudon, which came in 2006.