September 17, 2014

CHASE FANTASY: New Hampshire

Challenger: SYLVANIA 300 Fantasy Preview

Brad Keselowski led 138 laps in the Camping World
RV Sales 301 in July en route to victory. (NHMS/HHP)
It's race week here in New Hampshire, and that means it's time to experience the new Chase Grid first-hand.  Some fans immediately embraced this setup, while others were more hesitant, but the hype around NASCAR this fall is undeniable.

We saw it when ESPN college basketball experts Dick Vitale and Joe Lunardi visited our Chase Grid Party with Kasey Kahne in Boston last Wednesday.  This championship-style format is designed to interest more than just the hardcore NASCAR fan base, and it seems to be doing just that.  Offices across the country have grid pools going, and our "Fans of NH Motor Speedway" Grid Battle league on drew over 250 participants.

Now, it's time to see this beast in action.  Win and you move on, that's the one guarantee.  Here's a look at which Chase drivers could impact fantasy NASCAR teams this Sunday:

Green Flag - Brad Keselowski

NHMS has seen a record-tying 13 different winners in the last 13 races, but that could come crashing down in a big way this Sunday.  Brad Keselowski collected his first NHMS Cup win in July, and enters the SYLVANIA 300 with back-to-back wins in the series.  He could snap the NHMS winners streak with an impressive season-sweep if he arrives with the same speed he used to dominate in July.

September 12, 2014


Challenger: Chicagoland Speedway Fantasy Preview

The 2014 Chase Grid is set with a 16-driver field. (Getty)
With the Chase and the grid format in full swing, the previews going forward will take a look at the Chase drivers to start or bench in fantasy NASCAR.  Sure, there are still 43 cars on the track, but the focus is all about the Chase and the drivers still contending for a championship.

The new format puts a strong emphasis on winning, but keep in mind that, like the drivers, fantasy managers need to make sure to get the maximum number of points on the table.  To be blunt: the odds of winning any given race are relatively slim.  So, despite the emphasis on wins, there is still space for the most consistent drivers that don't win to make it all the way to the Championship Round.

If you're managing a fantasy team, you should also focus on the most consistent drivers.  Don't just go for broke on someone you think might have a shot at winning.  Let's be honest: they wouldn't have made it this far if they weren't going to contend for wins.

Green Flag - Jimmie Johnson

Johnson and the No. 48 team flip a switch when the Chase starts.  It happens almost every year, and the change in format will do nothing to change the team's ability to win the championship.  He's never won at Chicago, which means it's only a matter of time.  Despite a midseason swoon, the No. 48 has four straight top-10s, so it's already carrying momentum into the stretch run.

Magic Mile Power Rankings: Richmond

Next Up: at Chicagoland Speedway

That's all she wrote on the regular season. With Brad Keselowski's win on Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway, Greg Biffle and Ryan Newman were the last two drivers to make the Chase, which enters the Challenger Round. It all begins Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway, where someone may punch their ticket into the next round.
But, where the regular season stops, the Magic Mile Power Rankings continue. His win on Saturday night certainly went a long way to moving him into the MMPR, but exactly how far did Keselowski climb? And was anyone able to eclipse Joey Logano for the top spot?
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 the first race in the Challenger Round at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday:

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.