All the attention this weekend at New Hampshire has been centered around Toyota and the “Big 3.” Toyota, enters Sunday’s Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 (1 p.m. ET/NBCSN/PRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) on the heels of four straight Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victories including six of the last seven. Furthermore, they’ve led 97.1-percent of the overall laps around the Magic Mile over the last two years and have won five of the last six races there too.
On Friday’s first practice session, they had three of the top four speeds. On Saturday morning’s session, Toyota had four of the top six on the speed chart They then backed that up with putting four in the top five in final practice. They also placed all five of their cars in the top nine of the starting lineup as well.
So, it seems like we’re in store for another Toyota domination on Sunday right?
That benefits a driver like Denny Hamlin. He’s yet to win this season as through 19 races, three drivers have combined to win 14 of them. Take away the three restrictor plate races and they’re 14-for-16. The only other driver to win among those last two races that they didn’t was Clint Bowyer (Martinsville, Michigan).
So, it’s easy to predict that either Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch or Kevin Harvick will reach victory lane this weekend. After all, they were 1-2-3 in final practice on Saturday. But, if we’re going to see a new winner this season, look no further than Hamlin.
Hamlin is the defending winner of this July race and a three time New Hampshire winner in general. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver was third, first and fourth respectively in practice this weekend as he even qualified his No. 11 Toyota fourth too.
If you’re looking for another under the radar driver, Ryan Blaney is your guy. No, he doesn’t drive for Toyota, but he does drive a Ford for Team Penske, a team that’s starting to find their stride. Blaney, brought his No. 12 Ford home runner-up last weekend in Kentucky and has been fast so far in New Hampshire.
Blaney, was fifth, second and 11th respectively in practice and will start fifth on Sunday.
So, if someone other than the “Big 3” were to win on Sunday, it will likely be Hamlin or Blaney.