NASCAR at New Hampshire 2017: Start Time, Ticket Info, Lineup, TV Schedule, More

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistSeptember 23, 2017

JOLIET, IL - SEPTEMBER 17:  Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota, takes the checkered flag to win the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Tales of the Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 17, 2017 in Joliet, Illinois.  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

After an unpredictable, thrilling season, the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs got off to an almost predictable start, with Martin Truex Jr. pulling in the checkered flag at the postseason's first event.

The rest of the drivers have to respond Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the ISM Connect 300.

There, underperforming former champions and the rest of those in the running will spar for positioning before the elimination process begins. With parity perhaps explaining down showings from notables like Jimmie Johnson lately, fans can expect another hotly contested event.

Here is a look at everything to know about the Sunday afternoon showdown.

           

Viewing Details

Where: New Hampshire Motor Speedway

When: Sunday, 2 p.m. ET

Watch: NBCSN

Live Stream: NBC Sports

Tickets: StubHub

             

ISM Connect 300

Row 1: Kyle Busch (Pole), Kyle Larson

Row 2: Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney

Row 3: Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick

Row 4: Kurt Busch, Erik Jones

Row 5: Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth

Row 6: Jamie McMurray, Jimmie Johnson

Row 7: Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott

Row 8: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Clint Bowyer

Row 9: Austin Dillon, Ryan Newman

Row 10: Paul Menard, A.J. Allmendinger

Row 11: David Ragan, Chris Buescher

Row 12: Trevor Bayne, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Row 13: Daniel Suarez, Matt DiBenedetto

Row 14: Danica Patrick, Landon Cassill

Row 15: Aric Almirola, Ty Dillon

Row 16: Michael McDowell, Cole Whitt

Row 17: Corey LaJoie, Gray Gaulding

Row 18: Reed Sorensen, Brett Moffitt

Row 19: Jeffrey Earnhardt, Cody Ware

Row 20: Joey Logano

NASCAR.com.

         

2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Standings

DriverPoints
1. Martin Truex Jr.2102
2. Kyle Larson2075
3. Kevin Harvick2067
4. Brad Keselowski2061
5. Kyle Busch2061
6. Denny Hamlin2058
7. Jimmie Johnson2046
8. Chase Elliott2044
9. Matt Kenseth2039
10.Ryan Blaney2034
11. Jamie McMurray2031
12. Austin Dillon2026
13. Kurt Busch2026
14. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.2022
15. Kasey Kahne2021
16. Ryan Newman2019
ESPN.com.

               

Drivers to Watch

Kevin Harvick

LOUDON, NH - SEPTEMBER 22:  Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Mobil 1 Ford, practices for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series ISM Connect 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 22, 2017 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty I
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

While Kevin Harvick isn't exactly uncomfortable heading into New Hampshire, he knows as well as anyone else how shaky the ground a driver stands on in the playoffs can be on a week-to-week basis. 

Harvick finished third in Chicago last time out after leading 59 laps, but with contenders like Matt Kenseth almost falling out of the top 10, rebound potential for other guys means he can't afford to blink. 

Luckily for Harvick, he enters Sunday as the defending champion after last year leading all of eight laps despite starting 19th. 

Ahead of the race, he talked about how he navigates this portion of the schedule on a yearly basis, per Stewart-Haas Racing: 

Given the fact Harvick won this race a year ago, led nearly 60 laps in his most recent outing and is a familiar face seemingly unfazed by all the changes this year, he's a threat to make it two in a row. 

Such a development would be nothing but a good thing for fans—the longer Harvick stays on a title hunt, the better. 

         

Jimmie Johnson

LOUDON, NH - SEPTEMBER 22:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, drives during qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series ISM Connect 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 22, 2017 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo by Jo
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Johnson is one of the guys coming off an odd performance.  

Not that an eighth-place finish is bad—observers have just come to expect more from Johnson when the playoffs hit.

And he's right there with them, though he cites the quality of the competition as the main reason for his unexpected finish in Chicago.

"The cars are all so equal—at least the guys from third or fourth on back, we are all so equal," Johnson said, according to ESPN.com's Bob Pockrass. "If you could get by somebody on a restart, that was really about it. But for me, my car just really wanted to run the bottom of the racetrack."

A year ago, Johnson finished eighth at this race despite starting fourth. If he's going to bounce back to silence some of the questions starting to get whispered in his direction, he'll have to put on a better performance.

Like Harvick, the longer he's competing for a title, the better.  

           

Martin Truex Jr.

LOUDON, NH - SEPTEMBER 22:  Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota, prepares to drive during qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series ISM Connect 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 22, 2017 in Lou
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Few people thought Truex was in any sort of trouble entering the most recent race.

Yes, he had two finishes of 20th or worse over his last three outings before heading to the playoffs. But no, it wasn't easy to think a four-race winner would continue the downward trajectory once the postseason started.

Now he's a five-race winner.

Truex didn't lead the most laps in Chicago—that honor went to pole winner Kyle Busch at 85—but he did did lead 77 en route to the checkered flag. A statement win, even if he doesn't want to make statements.

"I don't really care a lot about statements," Truex said, according to USA Today's Mike Hembree. "I'm just having fun. It's important to come here and not let the pressure get to you, and I think we did a good job with that."

An almost predictable win for Truex creates an obvious question: Can anyone keep pace with him?

Truex has jumped out to a strong advantage on the leaderboard, and one has to think the guy who has already won five races this year won't have too much of a problem steadily acquiring points as the playoffs progress.

With the bar set for the rest of postseason, Truex enters Sunday the favorite in more ways than one.

         

Stats and info courtesy of ESPN.com unless otherwise specified.