Podium Preview: Foxwoods Resort Casino 301

Kyle Larson seeks his first Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 victory at New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Kyle Larson seeks his first Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 victory at New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Naturally, the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway evokes a short track attitude with superspeedway mentality.  By that, aggression and courage are as pivotal to a successful race weekend as a fast car, money pit stops, and a bit of good luck.

Certainly, Round 20 of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season makes those outside of New England attempt the polarizing Boston accent.  While yours truly may be a native of this unique region, don’t expect any of us to park our car in Harvard Yard.

Instead, we’re going to get you all up to speed on the storylines heading into Sunday’s race.  “The Magic Mile” could make a driver and team pretty happy or as agitated as being stuck on I-93 from Manchester to Downtown Boston.

With this in mind, our columnists, Ashley HobbsChristina Bowman, Cody Shoppe, Jose Acero JrKobe LambethMatt SisolerStephen Conley, and yours truly deliberate about the significance of Kurt Busch’s victory at Kentucky and which racers are excited for some Granite State racing!

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Question 1
Kurt Busch searches for his fourth New Hampshire win. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Kurt Busch searches for his fourth New Hampshire win. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Kurt Busch scored his first win of 2019 in a thrilling NASCAR Overtime duel over his brother Kyle at Kentucky.  Given Kurt Busch’s success with improving teams, how critical is it for Chip Ganassi Racing to have his talents for long-term success?

Acero :  As soon as we knew that Kurt Busch was headed to CGR, we knew that he would ramp up that team’s confidence week in, week out.  Given that he is a past champ in the sport, he possesses the ability to make every team he has raced for top notch competitive.

I see CGR having quite the success with the caliber drivers they have at the moment.  Larson is not too far from getting his own win. The team is in good hands with Busch and Larson.

Lambeth :  Having a driver such as Kurt Busch in your organization is extremely crucial.  In the past, he has proven that he is capable of elevating a program to new heights.  In my opinion, while his brother Kyle Busch receives most of the attention, I believe that Kurt does not get the respect he deserves as a driver.  His attitude and desire to win is something that Chip Ganassi Racing needed for its Cup program.

Moving forward, it will be interesting to see if Kurt Busch and teammate Kyle Larson can pick up a few more victories for the organization.  The entire program appears to heading in the right direction.

In future seasons, I am positive that we will see Kurt’s impact at Chip Ganassi Racing once he decides to call it a career. Based on his efforts during his time with Furniture Row Racing, I am sure that the Ganassi program will be left in good hands.

Shoppe :  Kurt Busch has gotten all there is to get out of the CGR cars this year! Earlier in the season, Busch and the No. 1 team were the best Chevy team period.  Now they finally earned a win.  So, I expect them to get a few more and have the potential to go deep in the Playoffs!  This could maybe put some pressure on teammate Kyle Larson to start winning again as his No. 42 team has been used to being the top running CGR team.

Sisoler :  Everyone knew it was a big coup for CGR to get Kurt Busch to pair with Kyle Larson when it was announced in the offseason. Getting a veteran driver with a track record (no pun intended) of not just succeeding at a program, but helping a program reach its full potential, to replace the beloved Jamie McMurray for the No. 1 car, was a big boost to CGR’s Cup program.  Now, with his breakthrough at Kentucky, I think Busch might have just opened the floodgate on the wins for not just himself, but also for teammate.

Question 2
Will Erik Jones make some noise and rejoin the NASCAR Playoffs for 2019? (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Will Erik Jones make some noise and rejoin the NASCAR Playoffs for 2019? (Photo Credit: Josh Jones/TPF)

Considering the current NASCAR Playoffs field and those outside of the top-16, which drivers are absolutely ecstatic to race this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway?

Bowman :  I would say Kyle Larson has to be pretty excited to race there this weekend with his history of solid finishes at New Hampshire.  Also, any driver who is in the Playoffs, but without a win, has to be looking forward to another opportunity to solidify their spot in the postseason.  The ones a little further down on the bubble list may have a little trepidation as we are getting limited on tracks to win at. 

Conley :  The top of that list has to be Kurt Busch and Kyle Larson. Busch started on the pole last year at Loudon.  However, Larson has now seen his teammate make it to Victory Lane.  With the cars running with the high downforce and full horsepower package, it could be another good week for Chevrolet.  Jimmie Johnson is another that is looking forward to New Hampshire. 

Hobbs :  States favor the Joe Gibbs Racing fellas at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, so they have to be looking forward to this. Additionally, Kevin Harvick, as the defending race winner. searches for his first win of 2019.  But, you must look at the native from the Northeast.  Joey Logano is one driver truly ecstatic about headed back home.

Tiongson :  I would have to agree with Bowman and Conley that Kyle Larson’s one of the favorites for this weekend at Loudon.  Let’s not forget how consistent and strong he was at NHMS in 2017.

For some reason, Larson thrives on these kinds of tracks.  Given how his team has finally started to find speed, I look for the 42 team to be quite stout.

On that note, Clint Bowyer looks forward to taking on “The Magic Mile” given his success at this venue.  In particular, Bowyer scored his first Cup victory there in 2007.

That’s two exhilarating laps around New Hampshire!  Before moving further, let’s look at our race and points reports from Round 19 at Kentucky!
Conley enjoyed another victory with Kurt Busch at Kentucky.

Conley enjoyed another victory with Kurt Busch at Kentucky.

Meanwhile, the infernal machine continues to lead us after 19 rounds.

Meanwhile, the infernal machine continues to lead us after 19 rounds.

Of course, our preview must break down the race’s most important factor -race trends!  So, here’s Ashley Hobbs, resident statistician, Crunching the Numbers: Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 style!

While Gibbs and Penske rule Loudon, look who's a not so distant third!

While Gibbs and Penske rule Loudon, look who’s a not so distant third!

Since 2004, the race winner has an average starting spot of 12.3 while leading an average of 64.7 laps.

Since 2004, the race winner has an average starting spot of 12.3 while leading an average of 64.7 laps.

MTJ has the slight advantage at Loudon.

Now, here are your Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 race trends since 2009.

Now, here are your Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 race trends since 2009.

Notably, here's the trends at "The Magic Mile" since 2014.

Notably, here’s the trends at “The Magic Mile” since 2014.

Another Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at Loudon, another Kyle Busch win.

Another Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at Loudon, another Kyle Busch win.

Appropriately, the race entitlement sponsor fits the next and final part of our preview!  Let’s take a chance and make it happen with our picks for Sunday’s Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire!
Paradise, lucky seven, one of these drivers may win the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at Loudon!

Paradise, lucky seven, one of these drivers may win the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at Loudon!

Bowman :  Kyle Larson.

Acero :  Larson wins and gets his own crustacean! 

Tiongson :  Why not go with the man who won in exciting fashion last Saturday night?  I’m choosing you, Kurt Busch. With three wins at this always competitive but exciting 1.058-mile venue, it could be back-to-back wins for car number one!

Sisoler :  I am gonna keep it simple this week,seeing as long-winded explanations and cringeworthy anecdotes have backfired on me the past few weeks. I am agreeing with Rob.  So, I’ll take KB1, Kurt Busch, to make it back-to-back wins for Chip Ganassi Racing and get the fourth lobster of his career!

Conley :  A 78-race losing streak comes to an end; Jimmie Johnson goes back to victory lane. 

Hobbs :  It was back in the olden days, way back in the year 2014, when there were two races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway that this guy found victory lane. It’s also been over a month since he visited victory lane. What better place than his home track for Joey Logano to grab another lobster.

Lambeth :  Denny Hamlin will have to face his fear of lobsters in victory lane at the Magic Mile.

Shoppe :  Brad Keselowski.

TPF Stats :  It’s been a few years since this man has earned himself a lobstah, and to everyone’s shock, the TPF Stats machine comes up with Kyle Busch to bring home a lobstah dinner for the family this weekend.

Race fans, thanks for joining us for our preview of the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire!

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 in 2019. 

The opinions and thoughts expressed in Podium Preview 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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