July 31, 2014

FANTASY: Bowling for a Winner

GoBowling.com 400 Fantasy Preview

Jeff Gordon has been on top of the NASCAR world in 2014. (Getty)
On the schedule, Daytona is the first track to host a second race of the season.  But, it's a restrictor-plate track where anything can happen and anyone can win.  Realistically, Pocono is the first track of the season where a team really gets to test what it learned with a second race.

This is the time of year when the championship contenders truly take shape.  With a new package on the cars in 2014, it's possible that some teams just missed the setup in the first race at track.  However, it's inexcusable to go back to the shop, look at the data, and miss the setup again.  Eight of the 10 Chase races will be run as the second event at a track.  The champion come from a team that learns best from Round 1 and optimizes the car's performance for Round 2.

Pocono will be the first test for that.  Here's a look at a few options to consider (or disregard) in fantasy NASCAR:

Green Flag - Jeff Gordon

Most people realize that Gordon is the points leader, but did you know that even if he finished last this week, there's only one driver capable of catching him?  That's consistency, and he's coming off a win at Indianapolis.  He has six wins at Pocono, so there's a good chance that the No. 24 could visit victory lane in back-to-back weeks.

July 29, 2014

Top-10 Tuesday: Memorable Moments

Top 10 Tuesday: Best Moments from Race Weekend

The 2014 Camping World RV Sales 301 NASCAR race weekend has come and gone, and it was a wild weekend of racing.

From Brad Keselowski’s weekend sweep to a pair of new qualifying records, there was plenty of history being made between July 11-14. Here’s our top-10 moments from race week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway:

1. How Sweep It Is – Brad Keselowski led 290 out of a possible 505 laps between Saturday’s Sta-Green 200 and Sunday’s Camping World RV Sales 301. Regardless of how many laps he led, though, Bad Brad did something no driver had ever done since the Magic Mile began hosting both Nationwide and Sprint Cup events in the same season – and that’s sweep the weekend.

2. The Streak Continues – A different driver pulled into Sunoco Victory Lane for the 13th straight Sprint Cup Series race, as Brad Keselowski continued the longest streak in NASCAR by winning the Camping World RV Sales 301. The baker’s dozen worth of wins by different drivers ties Texas Motor Speedway for the longest streak in NASCAR history – a record that could be broken in September’s SYLVANIA 300.

3. Third to First – It might not have been the way Jesse Little thought he’d win his first-ever K&N Pro Series East race, but he’ll take it – that’s for sure. Brandon Jones got into leader Nick Drake on the last turn, allowing Little to sneak past and race to the checkers. The dramatic finish was the most recent in a long line of memorable East finishes at the Magic Mile.

4. Cup ’O Mac – Eddie MacDonald, who grew up watching races at the 1.058-mile oval and is a fan favorite of New Hampshire Motor Speedway fans, made his first-ever Sprint Cup Series start in the July 13 Camping World RV Sales 301. MacDonald started 40th and finished 35th, and while he’d be the first to say he wanted a better finish, there was no taking away what was surely one of the best moments of the weekend when the native of Rowley, Mass., had his name called to the pre-race stage.

5. Shootout Surprise – Well, not exactly a surprise, but Ryan Newman’s win in the inaugural Whelen All-Star Shootout wasn’t exactly predictable. Starting fifth on the final restart, Newman used a dramatic last-lap slingshot pass of Justin Bonsignore to win the event, his third career Modified win at the Magic Mile.

6. Second … Again? – Kyle Busch has been red-hot at New Hampshire Motor Speedway over the last three races. Rowdy has three straight runner-up finishes and will be a favorite to break the record (see No. 2) in September given his last win at the Magic Mile came in 2006.

7. Thanks for the Memories – New Hampshire Motor Speedway’s winningest driver called it a career when Jeff Burton – a four-time NHMS winner – made the final start of his Sprint Cup career. A part-time driver for Michael Waltrip Racing this year, it was a perfect place to call it quits for Burton, who made the first Cup start of his career at NHMS on July 11, 1993.

8. Bump-and-Run – That term has a whole new meaning for New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman. One of the best interior wideouts in the National Football League, Edelman - the Official Pace Car Driver for the Camping World RV Sales 301 - was told in a pre-race meet-and-greet with Kyle Busch that he might get a little physical with the Patriot. He did just that, pushing the pace car around turns 1 and 2 during the pre-race pace laps.

9. It’s About Time – In 15 starts at New Hampshire, Bobby Santos III had six top-10s, including three top-fives. A win, however, was not on his resume. It is now as the native of Franklin, Mass., won a sprint to the finish line, holding off Doug Coby and Ted Christopher by .065 seconds for his first-ever victory at the Magic Mile.

10. Records Fall – Kyle Busch and Ben Rhodes each set new qualifying records for their respective divisions. Busch’s speed of 138.130 mph (27.574 seconds) set a new qualifying record in the Sprint Cup Series, while Rhodes’ speed of 128.580 (29.622 seconds) put him atop the qualifying record books in the K&N Pro Series East.

These are the top-10 moments from the Magic Mile staff’s perspective. Was there a moment that stood out to you that wasn’t on this list? Let us know!

July 25, 2014

Magic Mile Power Rankings: Indy

  Race 20: Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Well, it's been nearly two weeks since the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rolled into New Hampshire Motor Speedway. And what a weekend it was for Brad Keselowski, who not only won the Camping World RV Sales 301 on July 13, but became the first driver in track history to also win Saturday's Sta-Green 200 Nationwide Series race. The historic weekend was worth a week off, but the season runs straight to the checkered flag at Homestead-Miami on Nov. 16.

Now is also a perfect time to readjust the power rankings. Looking back at the last five weeks, here is the new format for the MMPR:
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 20 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday:

July 23, 2014

FANTASY: Beating the Brickyard

Crown Royal presents the John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Fantasy Preview

NASCAR has been racing at the most historic
racing venue in the world for over 20 years. (Getty)
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series got a well-deserved break last weekend, and as has become the case for us at NHMS in recent years, so did we.  It was a successful Camping World RV Sales 301 race weekend that saw the Sprint Cup Series tie a historical record with the 13 consecutive different winner at our track.

After which, both NASCAR and the staff at NHMS had the opportunity to recharge with an open weekend.  Both will now put their focus toward a strong Chase performance and end to the season.

For the boys and girl of the Sprint Cup Series, that starts this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  Here's a look at the fantasy starts and parks for the weekend:

Green Flag: Jeff Gordon

Not even a gas deficiency at NHMS could knock him out of the points lead.  Gordon should continue to set the pace for the series at Indy, where he has four wins and 16 top-10s in 20 starts.  Based on that success, this could be the week he goes from being a consistent point-getter with a single win to a multiple race-winning championship favorite.

July 18, 2014

Rookie Stripes: The Hot Pass

Brad Keselowski drives his Redd's Apple Ale car into
victory lane following his win at NHMS on Sunday. 
This past weekend at NHMS was incredible. As a part of the Communications team, I helped manage the track’s social media accounts during NASCAR weekend at the Magic Mile. Needless to say it was the best experience I’ve had to date at the track and one I will never forget. I was in and out of the media center, scrambling for Wi-Fi as I live-tweeted the races and snapped photographs for Instagram. To highlight it all, here are some superlatives that I would like to hand out from the weekend that was at NHMS..

Best Performance: Brad Keselowski

Whenever anyone at the track looked up at the leaderboard from Friday until Sunday, there was a high probability that Brad Keselowski was at the top. He dominated the weekend in both the Sprint Cup and the Nationwide Series. He was the fastest in the second and final (third) practices for the Camping World RV Sales 301, won the pole for the Sta-Green 200, and took home the checkered flag in both races.

A few two-tire and fuel only stops from a few of the leaders in the Sprint Cup race mired Keselowski back in traffic but within a matter a laps he would weave his way back to the front. Keselowski added to an incredible streak at Loudon, becoming the 13th different winner in the last 13 races. After the convincing show he put on Sunday, I wouldn’t be surprised if Keselowski is the one to break that streak when the Sprint Cup Series returns for the SYLVANIA 300 in September.