Track Talk: Foxwoods 301 at New Hampshire

Can Ryan Blaney score his first win of 2018 in Sunday's Foxwoods 301 at New Hampshire?

Can Ryan Blaney score his first win of 2018 in Sunday’s Foxwoods 301 at New Hampshire?

Each weekend, our panel provides their thoughts on the latest stories in NASCAR while predicting the winner of the Foxwoods 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the upcoming Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race!

This weekend, our panelists Adam LucasAshley Hobbs, Ashley Hull, Christina Bowman, Cody ShoppeJose Acero JrKatie CoppleKayla Sturm, and Stephen Conley reflect on moving Victory Lane closer to the fans and the potential for a more heightened race at New Hampshire.

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Question 1

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Martin Truex Jr celebrated his fourth win of the 2018 season, this time regaling in front of the fans at Kentucky Speedway.  Should Victory Lane be moved to the start/finish line to bring it closer to fans?

Acero :  Of course! Let the fans be a part of the celebration. This having VL where no one (fans) can’t see the celebration is unsportsmanlike conduct. Let the fans enjoy!

Bowman :  Absolutely! The celebration should be for the fans who spent their vacation time and money to be there! I think placement of Victory Lane is truly dependent on the track though. Some of them are already pretty close to the start/finish line or are at least within view of the fans so they wouldn’t need much tweaking.

I haven’t quite decided if I’m a fan of having the interview right out of the car be so separated from the Victory Lane celebration. To me the inconsistency of it seems awkward at times, so if they could be combined into one, more visible to fans moment I would be very happy with it.

Conley :  No. the front stretch interview is one thing to really give the fans that raw emotion. They get that celebration and instant reaction. You’ve got victory lane celebration close to or on the track at short tracks. But most fans are already leaving the track after the burnouts. Victory lane any more is about the media and photos. I don’t see any reason to move it closer and r on the front stretch. It needs to stay a permanent fixture.

Copple :  While I could see the appeal of that in a way, the Victory Lane celebration isn’t really for the fans, is it? It’s more for the team in my opinion. I love the new start/finish line interview NBC has started. It gives us a raw, emotional interview from the driver as soon as they climb out of the car. But, moving Victory Lane there? It really seems pointless. Unless you’re a mega-fan of the driver, most fans are up and heading out of the stadium once the burnout is complete.

While I don’t think Victory Lane needs to be moved to the start/finish line, moving it to a place where fans who want to see it clearly from the stands can, would make more sense. Maybe pit road?

Hobbs :  Yes. Yes. Yes! NBC took a step in the right direction with their “unofficial interview at the start/finish line”; the official one needs to be there. This sport is all about the fans! How annoying is it that fans spend HOURS (some days) at the track, to watch the race, to not even see the celebration, except on a screen? Martinsville does it right; all the other tracks need to follow suit.

My suggestion: NBC continues with their fresh out of the car interview, send it off to interview the second through fifth place driver while sponsor items are set up on the start/finish line. This should be plenty of time to get those big boxes out there, the marketing/PR folks, and the team. Then, have the driver do his typical “get out of the car and get sprayed with soda and beer” photo op. The fans would appreciate that more than just a burnout.

Hull :  I think it would be such a great idea! It’s only right that victories are shared with the fans. After all, if it wasn’t for them, they wouldn’t be able to race and have much of a career. Plus, from a fan’s perspective, it would be cool to witness the celebrations. So, yes, bring it closer to the fans!

Lucas :  Well, this is a great question! Since NBC already does the awkward front stretch interview, why don’t we go ahead and move victory lane to the stripe too? I’m down for it, make it happen track promoters!

Shoppe : Never understood why a victory lane would be out of sight for the fans in the stands! I agree that the celebration should be on the on the front stretch so more people can see! I never liked having to have my binoculars out to try to get a glimpse of the winner in winner’s circle!

Sturm :  This is a great idea! Yes, 100x yes. Celebrations should be for the fans who spend all Sunday at the track to cheer on their favorite driver. It’s kind of unfair that they don’t get to experience the celebration. I know a lot of people don’t like that NBC does the whole “two interview” thing, but I think it’s great. If fans can’t experience the Victory Lane celebration, at least they can see the interview.

Question 2
Might we see some intensity at Loudon from AJ Allmendinger and his fellow peers on Sunday?

Might we see some intensity at Loudon from AJ Allmendinger and his fellow peers on Sunday?

New Hampshire hosts its sole XFINITY and Cup Series races of the season.  Might we see racing that’s more intense than usual considering the races remaining to the end of the regular season?

Acero :  Don’t like the track at all. Yes it’s given some good racing throughout the years but let’s be honest – it’s a snoozer of an event. Just like Pocono. (Don’t get me started.) The lobster trophy is cool though.

Bowman :  It’s all dependent on how the track races to be honest. Weather, tire compound, racing package, etc all have an influence. Anytime drivers are limited to only having one shot per year to win at a track it boosts the competitive nature to win. Sadly for the XFINITY Series that also means that more MENCS drivers are going to want a crack at it, which tends to bring down the intensity level of racing in my opinion.

Conley : I don’t expect anything more than what we’ve typically seen there. They PJ1 will likely be put down again in the middle groove and it will still be hard to pass. Look for another “Big Three” domination day in Loudon.

Copple :  If nothing has really changed at the track with the surface or the car, why should fans expect better racing at a track that doesn’t usually produce much excitement? We might see a good run for a position or two, but I’m not holding my breath.

Hobbs :  That depends; how many Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers are going to be there? We saw Kyle Busch start out well at Kentucky, then fade, leaving the battle to the regulars; and it was great! These are the guys fighting for the stage points, the playoff points, and the win and I want to see them do that the entire race. Do I thin because this is the sole race at New Hampshire we will see more intense racing? No. I think the intensity comes down to Cup drivers not taking up the podium and the regulars fighting for every valuable point.

Hull :  We will just have to wait and see what happens. To be honest, New Hampshire is one of the most boring tracks on the circuit. It will all depend on how good of a show the drivers put on. It may be intense at the end and provide us with good racing. We shall see.

Lucas :  As long as the PJ1 and/or tire dragon make an appearance to help the upper groove, then I think we’ll have a good show. It worked for last summer’s edition with warmer than usual temps. Let’s hope that is the case this weekend for our Northeastern NASCAR fans, lord knows their already mad about losing a race to a desert oddity (Las Vegas).

Shoppe :  Can’t wait to be there to see how it all goes at NHMS! Should be interesting to see if the traction compound returns to help give us some more options at the flat Magic Mile. The XFINITY race should be good with only Brad Keselowski as a competitive Cup regular in the field.

As for the Cup race, It could be a little different only in the sense that the teams know they will not need to be better here in the fall for a playoff race so this is their once shot at the lobster trophy! (Yes I spelled it lobster, not lobstah. That will get annoying quick this weekend as always!)

Sturm :  I think it all just depends. This season has been a little off as far as excitement and aggression goes with the exception of a few races, and New Hampshire isn’t well known for providing much action. I think it also all depends on the weather as well, because we all known how easily track conditions are affected by weather, which in turn, affects driving style.

Well, that’s two trips around the Magic Mile!  Before we try to get to our game of Quidditch, let’s review the race and points report from Kentucky.
Martin Truex Jr made some of our writers quite happy.

Martin Truex Jr made some of our writers quite happy.

The points race is just about to get interesting.

The points race is just about to get interesting.

Friends, let’s get this Loudon party started. Here’s our picks for Sunday’s Foxwoods 301 at New Hampshire!
It's either a Kyle Busch party or not.

It’s either a Kyle Busch party or not.

Tiongson :  Firstly, New Hampshire doesn’t do the Boston accent, so this ex-Bay Stater wants to clear that up!  Now, onto my race pick. Sure, Toyota has pretty much dominated at NHMS but I’m going with Brad Keselowski. It’s been an inconsistent year to date. However, his up and down streak ends on Sunday with a win at my old home track!

Bowman :  Kyle Larson at Loudon!

Conley :  The 20 car has been on the beat in recent years at Loudon. Erik Jones solidifies his championship position.

Acero :  Busch – as in Kyle Busch.

Copple :  Kyle Busch seems like a safe bet here.

Hobbs :  If you’re thinking it’s time to get Rowdy at Loudon, then chances are you know I’m picking Kyle Busch!

Hull :  It’s hard to bet against Kyle Busch at this track.

Lucas : Kyle Busch will be bringin home dah lobstah back ta Huntasville.

Shoppe :  Kyle Busch!

Sturm :  Going with Kyle Busch again. It’s hard to pick against any of “The Big Three”.

TPF Stats :  Picking against Kyle Busch at Loudon would be as illogical as hating on Star Wars.

That wraps this week’s preview, race fans!  Thanks for joining us for another edition of Track Talk!

We’re ready for some racing. How about you? What do you think are the biggest storylines heading into Sunday’s race and who is your favorite to win?  Tweet us now @ThePodiumFinish and tell us now!

Thanks as always to the TPF team for their amazing efforts this week!  We hope to see you at the races.

The opinions and thoughts expressed in Track Talk are solely of the authors. They do not reflect any organizations affiliated with the participants and author outside of TPF. This weekly feature is strictly for entertainment purposes and are not indicative of TPF, the organization, and its staff.

Rob Tiongson

30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field, and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught my eye. From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by me or by one of my talented columnists who absolutely have a passion for racing.

Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. I enjoy editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography.

Graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. Proud to be from Massachusetts, just as happy to be a Texan.

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