Picks for this weekend:
Ben Bomberger—Tony Stewart
Stewart has become (and will probably remain) the top choice on almost any given weekend.
Let's face it, Stewart can, well...Smoke...the competition on any given weekend, and NHMS is no different.
Heading into the weekend, Stewart leads the points by 84 over Jeff Gordon. He also leads all drivers with 12 top-10 finishes in 16 starts (75 percent) and is tied for first with eight top-fives.
At NHMS: In 20 starts at the track, Stewart has collected two wins, 10 top-fives, 12 top-10s, one pole, and an average finish of 12.6.
When it comes to NASCAR's Loop Data, Stewart has an Average Running Position of 9.9 (third-best), a Driver Rating of 115.6 (series-best), 235 Fastest Laps Run (series-high), an Average Green Flag Speed of 124.308 MPH (series-best), 1,883 Laps in the Top 15 (78.7 percent, fourth-most), and 229 Quality Passes (fourth-most).
James Broomhead—Jimmie Johnson
It's a case of head over heart this week for me. The heart wants a Hamlin or Bowyer win to add some sparkle to mediorce seasons, but the head can only point to a Hendrick driver, so JJ it is.
M.J. Buchanan—Jeff Burton
For my pick this weekend for the Lenox Industrial Tools 301, I am going with Jeff Burton. Yes, that's Burton, not Gordon, the latter being an often regular pick for this die-heard JG fan. I'm going with JB this weekend for a number of reasons.
First, he does well at this track, with four wins. He is one of four drivers, including himself, Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte and Joe Nemechek, to have competed in all 28 Cup races at that track. Burton will also be running the Lenox paint scheme in patriotic red, white and blue - that has to count for something, right?
And finally, that man and RCR are just due after a very rough start to this season.
So there you have it Jeff - not Gordon - but Burton to win in New Hampshire!
Kelly Crandall—Ryan Newman
Mason Dunn—Denny Hamlin
At the same time as it appears that Hamlin's teammate Kyle Busch is beginning to slump and put his Chase aspirations into danger, Hamlin himself is beginning to turn his season around and has climbed back into the top 10 in points currently sitting in the seventh position.
New Hampshire has been kind to Hamlin in his career as he has his second best track finish average with a 7.17 behind only Watkins Glen where he has a 6.67. Hamlin picked up a win at this track in this event back in 2007.
With a worst ever finish of a mere 15th in September of 2008 it would seem to be crazy not to pick Hamlin at this track. Plus Hamlin has a history with flat tracks from his racing upbringing in Virginia, Martinsville and Langley specifically.
Adam Heasley—Jimmie Johnson
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Danielle Henderson—Kurt Busch
Kurt Busch usually runs well at Loudon. Here lately he's been doing better than his younger brother, Kyle busch. Expect Kurt to be up front and lead a ton of laps at this week's race.
Kara Martin—Jeff Gordon
This week I am choosing Jeff Gordon. Don't have any rhyme or reason for it, no great stats to report, or any fabulous thoughts on the matter. After a string of long, crazy nights at work I am too exhausted to link more than one coherent sentence together! I am just going with my gut. =)
S.M. Napier—Tony Stewart
Just going to stay with SHR, pick Tony Stewart this week at NHMS can't go wrong with his stats, 20 races, two wins, one pole, 10 top fives, 12 top-10 finishes, lead 936 laps and he'll be tough again this weekend.
Kyle Ocker—Kyle Busch
It certainly wasn't the prettiest outing for Kyle Busch at Infineon Raceway last week, but he always seems to back up a bad week with a good one. That's why I'm picking him to win this weekend at New Hampshire. In eight starts, he has one win, three top-fives and three top-10s.
David Phillips—Martin Truex Jr.
It's time for the other Earnhardt-Ganassi boy to shine. My darkhorse is Marcos Ambrose, I expect momentum to be on his side.
Jen Preston—Denny Hamlin
Denny Hamlin is looking for a rebound, and what better place to get it than a place where he has the best average of active drivers (with more than three starts- 7.2)? In his last two starts he's finished third and fifth, and I expect his rebounding to continue this weekend.
Rob Tiongson—Ryan Newman
Ahh, they're racing up in my home turf and there's nothing like NASCAR action up in my neck of the woods! I'm thinking that this will be Ryan Newman's race to win and why not?
He won here in 2002 and that No. 39 team is knocking on the door for a victory. Newman's not been to the winner's circle since his Daytona 500 triumph from last year in what was otherwise an unforgettable season. This year, they're sitting somewhat comfortably in Chase contention and a win on Sunday would do this team a huge favor.
Dark horse wise, I'd have to go with Greg Biffle. This is "sorta" Roush Fenway Racing's hometurf track if you consider the Red Sox ownership group that has some say with this team. And since NHMS is near Boston and Fenway Park, it'd be a fitting win for this team.
Here is a look at each writer's pick from Infineon last weekend, where they finished, and the updated point standings (wins are in parenthesis):
M.J. Buchanan, (2343) Jeff Gordon finished ninth. (0)
Kelly Crandall, (2337) Tony Stewart finished second. (1)
Ben Bomberger, (2259) Juan Pablo Montoya finished sixth. (0)
Adam Heasley, (2239) Montoya finished sixth. (2)
S.M. Napier, (2115) Stewart finished second. (2)
David Phillips, (1845) Ron Fellows finished 27th. (1)
Kara Martin, (742) Stewart finished second. (1)
James Broomhead, (708) Marcos Ambrose finished third. (0)
Rob Tiongson, (681) Gordon finished ninth. (1)
Mason Dunn, (660) Mark Martin finished 35th. (0)
Danielle Henderson, (615) Brian Vickers finished 16th. (0)
Jen Preston, (519) Ambrose finished third. (0)
Kyle Ocker, (494) NO PICK SENT. (0)
Remember, during the regular season, our writers are trying to collect as many wins as possible.
After Richmond, points will be reset with each writer receiving 10 points for correctly picking a winner during the season.
For the final 10 races, the points will matter, and a Creature vs. Creature Champion will be crowned following the season finale in Homestead.
Check back on Monday for this weekend's results.