August 28, 2014

FANTASY: Brushing Up on Atlanta

Oral-B USA 500 Fantasy Preview

Despite taking the checkered flag at Atlanta in 2013, Kyle
Busch doesn't appear to be a race favorite this year. (Getty)
Atlanta Motor Speedway is set to host its only NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the season.  While it will be the first visit in 2014 for the Sprint Cup Series, the 1.5-mile intermediate layout is one that the series should be quite familiar with at this point.

The Chase will feature two other intermediates hosting single races of the season (Chicagoland and Homestead-Miami), so it will be a big test for the postseason.  For those that think the drivers locked into the Chase can just put it in cruise control for a couple of weeks, think again.  This will be the last time to try to maximize the car's performance on a track layout that comprises five of the ten Chase races.

Here's who you should keep in consideration when setting the fantasy roster this weekend:

Green Flag: Jeff Gordon

It's hard to go against Gordon anywhere this season, as he continues to hold a strong points lead.  Take a look at his stats for Atlanta and he becomes the closest thing to a lock this weekend that you can get in auto racing: he has five wins and 26 top-10 finishes in 40 starts at the track.

August 27, 2014

Rookie Stripes: The Checkered Flag

And just like that, it’s over.

Four months never went by so quickly. As August comes to a close so does my internship with New Hampshire Motor Speedway. As excited as I am to return to school at Syracuse, I am equally as saddened to leave a workplace that gave me so much to look forward to every single day that I was there.

For as much on-track action as I was able to cover over the past few months, two of the most memorable days of my internship took place away from Loudon. Both Kasey Kahne and Greg Biffle came to New Hampshire this summer on separate occasions for special events. Kasey Kahne spent a day in May with the NH Fire Academy in Concord and Biffle visited Portsmouth just last week.

Not only was my job a quite favorable one on those two days (taking photos of a famous NASCAR driver and following him around all day), but the collaborative efforts between NHMS, the communities of New Hampshire, and two household names in the sport was awesome to see.

As any Granite State native knows, a sense of community and heritage is cherished – attributes of most New Hampshire towns that residents don’t take for granted. Kahne and Biffle each took time out of their schedule to spend a day in our state and were enthusiastic about each experience.

Kahne walked into a burning building, and recognized the heroic efforts of the men and women who protect our lives everyday. Biffle waded into oyster-filled waters and tasted chowder, giving exposure to the historic Seacoast of New Hampshire and its rich seafood industry.

Both visits from Kahne and Biffle are just two examples of how NHMS recognizes the great people of New Hampshire and the unique qualities and attractions that make the state such a wonderful place. ‘Warmhearted’ is a word that comes to mind when I think about the many positives of working for NHMS.

The staff, the competitors, and the fans are all so welcoming and gracious. A certain level of compassion is evident during Saturday nights at the mini-oval just as much as it is when the Sprint Cup Series rolls into town. When I was younger, I remember always hearing about the close-knit garage area on TV broadcasts, describing the racing community as a family. With this internship I was able to observe how true that really is.

This summer I spent a majority of my time covering a sport I love for a speedway that continues to provide many lasting memories. I put together highlight reel videos, captured photographs, and contributed to the track’s social media pages. This was the first time that my work in communications has left the classroom. I was generating content for the fans and it was extremely rewarding. I learned so much more about racing and digital media, but the most gratifying part was learning it through a magnificent venue, a one-of-a-kind sport, and an incredible staff.

I look forward to returning to Loudon for the September race and assisting whenever else I can in the future. The checkered flag has waved on the internship, but the drive continues.

August 13, 2014

FANTASY: Pure Need For Speed

Pure Michigan 400 Fantasy Preview

Michigan is one of the biggest ovals on the schedule. (Getty)
Michigan International Speedway is all about one thing: speed.  At two miles around, it measures out to be one of NASCAR's largest ovals not to use a restrictor plate for speed regulation.  That means it's a pedal-to-the-medal, fastest-car-wins kind of weekend.  Skill is always important, but this weekend, it will only matter for the few drivers lucky enough to be driving in the cars most dialed in for speed.

Here's a look at the drivers with the best chances to perform in fantasy NASCAR:

Green Flag - Matt Kenseth

Still without a win on the season, Kenseth is overdue to visit victory lane.  He has a 9.8 average finish at Michigan with two wins and 18 top-10s in 30 starts at the track.  He's quietly sitting in third in points, which shows that despite the lack of a win, he's more consistent than most.

August 8, 2014

Magic Mile Power Rankings: Watkins Glen

Next Up: Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International

All is right with the NASCAR world as Dale Earnhardt Jr. has solidified himself not only into the Chase – thanks to his third win of the season at Pocono Raceway – but via that victory has put himself in perfect position to enter the first round of the Sprint Cup Series playoff with momentum. With only five races remaining the regular season, there are still five spots open, which makes winning that much more important, starting this weekend at Watkins Glen International, the final road-course race of the season.

And while guys like Marcos Ambrose and A.J. Allmendinger will be under the microscope on Sunday, there are a number of guys in the Magic Mile Power Rankings that need a wake-up call before they drop off the list, and fast.
MMPR format:
Win - 10 points
Top-5 - 5 points
Top-10 - 3 points
Most Laps Led - 2 points
Pole - 1 point
21-30 - Minus-1
31-40 - Minus-3
41-43 - Minus-5
*The most recent five races are counted.

Here's a look at the MMPR (last five weeks' point total in parentheses) heading into Race 22 at Watkins Glen on Sunday:

August 2, 2014

Magic Mile Power Rankings: Pocono

  Race 21: 400 at Pocono Raceway

Here's another rundown of the new MMPR format.
Win - 10 points
Top-5 - 5 points
Top-10 - 3 points
Most Laps Led - 2 points
Pole - 1 point
21-30 - Minus-1
31-40 - Minus-3
41-43 - Minus-5

Moving forward, the most recent five races will be counted. This should be a more effective system in determining the hottest, most consistent drivers in the Sprint Cup Series. Let us know what you think!

Here's a look at the MMPR (last five weeks' point total in parentheses) heading into Race 21 at Pocono Raceway on Sunday: