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The NASCAR Cup Series is back in New Hampshire, and the 1,058-mile oval could be the chance hungry veterans like Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick need to take that elusive first win of the season. If they win, they qualify for the postseason.
“The Magic Mile” — as the track in Loudon, New Hampshire is also called — hosts a pivotal race this weekend, as the NASCAR Cup Series now has five races left in the regular season. After this weekend, the season will have a two-week break while the Olympics are underway. After the Olympics, there are four more races in August before the postseason starts in September.
Can a veteran take this crucial win, or will Kyle Larson continue his dominance in 2021 after signing a contract extension this week at Hendrick Motorsports?
RELATED: NASCAR BetCenter | Chances for Sunday’s race in New Hampshire
Have a look at the NASCAR racing opportunities for the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 in Loudon:
THE POSSIBLE FAVORITE
Martin Truex, Jr. (+500)
Truex, Jr. surpasses the odds in Loudon, but there are many historically strong drivers in this area – even with many top veterans from the past two decades having recently retired. Truex comes from a New Jersey family that has had success on the oval track in New Hampshire. His father – Martin Truex Sr. – won the only NASCAR Touring Series race of his career at Loudon, capturing the K&N Pro Series East race (now known as ARCA Menards Series East) there in 1994. Little brother Ryan Truex also won two East races here in 2010 and Truex, Jr. won twice in the same series and won once in the Xfinity Series (2005).
Although Truex, Jr. didn’t win at Loudon in the NASCAR Cup Series, he has one of the highest average finish numbers there – 12.0. He has 13 career top-10 finishes and seven career top-fives. Keep in mind that Truex, Jr. also has not always been in top gear during his career. His last six runs here have been top 10 and he was third last year in Joe Gibbs gear – the strongest team he has raced for in his career.
Couple the historical context above with the fact that he’s won three times this season and will start second this weekend, and you can see he’s a solid favorite.
RELATED: Starting Lineup for New Hampshire
OTHERS: Truex, Jr. not miles ahead of everyone else in the NASCAR racing opportunities. Now racing with Hendrick Motorsports, Kyle Larson (+525) has proven that he can win almost anywhere, anytime. With five races to go before NASCAR kicks off its postseason on September 5 in Darlington, Larson would be at the top of the playoffs if the regular season ended today. He’s been great.
Denny Hamlin (+550) is very hungry for that first win of the season. He tops the regular season standings as of today, but that will change once the NASCAR Cup Series standings reset for the postseason. Hamlin’s last two races have resulted in second place at this location and he has won three races here in his career. He also has the best average finish (9.6) of all active drivers with more than one start.
Finally, there’s Kyle Busch (+650). Hell starts on pole and has 12 NASCAR career wins in Loudon in the top three series: three in the Cup Series, six in the Xfinity Series and three in the Camping World Truck Series.
THE DARK HORSE THREAT
Kevin Harvick (+1200)
Of all the entrants this weekend, none have taken more Cup Series victories than Kevin Harvick in New Hampshire. He has won four times on the track – three in the last six Cup races – and also has more top five (13) and top 10 (21) than anyone else this weekend.
Harvick has been at his best in his career on medium length circuits that range in size from 1.00 to 1.54 miles in length. Think about this: of the 58 Harvicks Cup Series wins, 36 have come on circuits of this length range. There’s something just right about this runway size. Harvick has not won a race this year, but this could be a great opportunity.
THE INTRIGUING LONG SHOT
Christopher Bell (+2000)
Bell has only raced one race in New Hampshire when it comes to the Cup Series, but he has won the last two races here (2018 and 2019) in the Xfinity Series and also won the 2017 Camping World Truck Series in all three wins in the lower series he started with #2 and raced with either Joe Gibbs (Xfinity) or Kyle Busch (Trucks) – both traditionally strong at those levels. Hell be in a Gibbs Cup Series car this weekend.
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