This weekend we are at New Hampshire Motor Speedway before a much-needed week off for these NASCAR Sprint Cup teams. This is the first visit to the track this season. Obviously for the Chase drivers, this later will also be Stop No. 2 of the 2014 NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Noting that, the drivers who are already in the Chase and their teams will be taking a lot of notes and hopefully making their notebooks as thick as they can. I am going to be keeping my eye on, however, a couple drivers who are still on the outside of the Chase looking in. Ironically they both are teammates and I am talking about Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers of Michael Waltrip Racing.
Clint has won at New Hampshire before and this is where Brian won a year ago. I know they went up there and tested knowing this is a really good track for both drivers and naturally want to take advantage of the opportunity. Now obviously both of them can’t win Sunday but the folks at Michael Waltrip Racing sure are hoping one of the two can get a win. I certainly wouldn’t rule out either Clint or Brian as having a legitimate shot of going to Victory Lane Sunday.
We are back to conventional racing. It’s neither a road course nor a restrictor plate track. The other thing to keep in mind is it’s a fairly short race. It’s only 301 laps. So to me that means qualifying will be at a premium because you are going to want to keep that track position from the drop of the green flag.
Because it is a somewhat short race, you have to unload and be pretty well dialed in throughout practice and qualifying because there aren’t going to be a lot of pit stops Sunday to give teams a chance to work on their cars. Really and truly it is one of those races in which any mistake you make can take you right out of the picture for the rest of the race.
I see this race as a place where we will see strategy absolutely make our eyeballs spin. You will continue to see folks pit out of sequence all day long. When some come in, others will stay out but then the next caution it becomes the other way around.
Look for the strategy Sunday to be all over the board. You will see two-tire stops, four-tire stops and fuel-only stops. From an analyst standpoint on Sunday there is no doubt in my mind that I will have my work cut out for me.