Here are four predictions for New Hampshire. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
NASCAR is headed to the second race of the first round of the Chase. Who will win at New Hampshire this weekend? Here are four predictions for the race.
This Sunday NASCAR will be at New Hampshire for the Bad Boy Off Road 300. With Martin Truex Jr. winning last week at Chicagoland, 15 Chase drivers now only have two races left to try and win to move on to the next round of the Chase.
Will a Chase driver win on Sunday though? Or can another driver pull an upset and take away the chance for one of the 15 drivers to move onto the next round through a win?
The Chase drivers aren’t the only ones fans will be paying attention to though.
Alex Bowman will once again be driving the 88 car for Dale Jr. this weekend and the young driver is looking to impress. After a solid finish last Sunday, fans will undoubtedly be watching to see what he does this weekend. Will he impress? Or will he run into trouble again like he did last time at the Paper Clip?
Which drivers should fans expect to run strong on Sunday? Toyota ran well last weekend, but is it time for another manufacturer to step up in the Chase or will Toyota continue to be the powerhouse it was all season?
The second race of the round of 16 is this Sunday. It’s already crunch time for the Chase drivers, and with so much on the line here are four predictions for New Hampshire.
Martin Truex Jr. failed post-race inspection, but didn’t recieve any penalty. Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Drivers Push The Limit With Post-Race Penalties
Last week after the race at Chicagoland both the 78 and 48 cars failed post-race inspection.
Before the Chase NASCAR had been penalizing teams and drivers for failing the post-race inspection, going as far as to dock points from a team in the standings. So naturally the 48 and 78 teams were a little worried, especially the 78 team who won the race this past Sunday.
It turns out that NASCAR won’t be penalizing either of the teams after all, and clarified what they plan to do for post-race infractions. Only P4-level post-race inspection infractions will draw a penalty and luckily for Truex and Johnson, the penalties for their teams were only P2-level.
What this decision does do to NASCAR though, is give teams a little more leverage when it comes to worrying about failing post-race inspection.
What’s to stop teams from trying to modify the body of a car and risking something that would normally cost them points? If they do fail post-race inspection, as long as it’s less than a P4-level, they won’t have to worry about losing points in the Chase.
With NASCAR establishing what will draw a penalty for post-race LIS inspection failures, expect Chase teams to try and take advantage of the change and other Chase teams fail this type of post-race inspection in the future.
Now whether or not some Chase teams push it too far is something we will have to wait to see.
Alex Bowman has been impressive in the 88 but can he continue to run well this weekend? Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Bowman Will Impress Once Again
Alex Bowman has been impressive every time he’s stepped into the 88 for Dale Jr., and on Sunday the young driver will be impressive yet again.
His first race in the 88 was at New Hampshire earlier this year and he was on his way to a solid finish until he cut a tire late in the race and hit the wall.
He would fill in for Junior again at Michigan and qualified in 6th, an extremely impressive feat and would have run well if he hadn’t run into engine problems.
Last week at Chicagoland Bowman was finally able to complete a race without car issues, and the young driver finished in 10th, one of the best finishes in the 88 since both he and Jeff Gordon started subbing in for junior.
Now he’s back for another chance to compete at New Hampshire and with a little more experience with the 88 team Bowman is in a position to do even better than how he finished last weekend, and as long he can avoid running into bad luck again, don’t be surprised to see him finish in the top 10 or even the top 5.
Bowman returns to New Hampshire and will once again impress fellow Sprint Cup drivers and fans on Sunday.
New Hampshire will help separate what teams are ready for the Chase and what teams are not. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
The Chase Drivers Will Separate Even More
Last weekend at Chicagoland the start of the race had an interesting twist because of weather; qualifying was rained out and as a result the Chase drivers started in the top 16 positions.
By the time the race was over, the Chase drivers had separated throughout the field. Looking at the standings now, the drivers who have been running well all season are at the top, and the other drivers who have been struggling are more towards the bottom.
New Hampshire this weekend is going to separate this field of drivers even more.
The group of Toyota drivers will more than likely stay toward the top of the standings, and team Penske will also join them.
The rest of the Chase field though, is questionable. Will Stewart Haas be able to have at least one of their drivers step up after New Hampshire? What about the two from Hendrick Motorsports? Can Jimmie Johnson gain momentum at New Hampshire or will it all ride on Chase Elliot?
Don’t forget about Kyle Larson, who won his way into the Chase unlike his teammate Jamie McMurray who just made it on points. He could win his way to the next round and separate himself from the rest of the field.
New Hampshire will give us more of an idea of what teams will be strong moving forward in the Chase, and which teams are still struggling.
Team Penske runs well at New Hampshire and one of these two drivers will win on Sunday. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports
Team Penske Wins at New Hampshire
Last week Toyota was the first manufacturer to grab a win in the Chase; an unsurprising outcome given how dominant Toyota drivers have been this season.
Now as we head to New Hampshire, it’s time for the other top manufacturer, more specifically the other top team in NASCAR to enter the next round of the Chase with a win.
Team Penske is a dual threat at this track and one of the two Penske drivers will win this race on Sunday.
Joey Logano has been quiet this season, especially when compared to how well he ran last year. New Hampshire though is one of his better tracks and over the last four races at the Paper Clip he’s finished in the top five each time. With two wins and an average finish of 15.19, New Hampshire could end up being the spark both Logano and the 22 team need to keep moving forward in the Chase.
While Logano wasn’t running as well this year heading into the Chase, Brad Keselowski has been having one of his best seasons. The driver of the two car entered the post-season with four wins, and when it comes to New Hampshire he’s got an average finish of 10.71 and has one win at this track.
With the momentum Keselowski took into the Chase and a top 10 finish at Chicagoland last week, he looks strong heading into New Hampshire. Logano’s recent results at the Paper Clip and his second place finish last weekend, makes him look ready to dominate at one of his better tracks.
one of these two Penske drivers will end up in Victory Lane on Sunday and Ford will be the second manufacturer moving onto the next round of the Chase.
Who do you think will win the race on Sunday? Will a Penske driver move on to the next round? Let us know in the comments below. For all of your NASCAR news make sure to head over to BeyondTheFlag.com.