The second race of the Chase takes us to the 1-mile flat track at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the second time this season, which should immediately have you checking out what happened on the similar tracks of Phoenix (1-mile) and Richmond (3/4-mile) this season.
At least you should if wanting to maximize your betting potential this week.
In the first New Hampshire race held July 19, Kyle Busch was in the middle of the month and the beginning of a Joe Gibbs Racing domination period that is still going on now. With Denny Hamlin’s win Sunday at Chicago, a JGR driver has now won nine of the past 12 races on the schedule.
Joey Logano has snuck in a couple wins over that span and Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the race of randomness at Daytona, but other than that it’s been all Toyota and Gibbs.
It’s been quite an assault on the series, and has created a season that I’ve never quite seen before. I love both NASCAR’s ability to change mid-stream with a package and consistency.
The consistency with JGR started when the low down force package was introduced at Kentucky on July 11. Before that, it was the Kevin Harvick show with a top-two finish almost every week and another guy in a bow tie, Jimmie Johnson, had four wins.
It really has been a tale of two seasons. It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen Chevrolet look so ordinary this late.
Last week the defending series champion, Harvick, got himself into some major trouble by finishing 42nd after an early scuffle with Johnson. Harvick had some words for Johnson after the race, which basically translated to, “Dude, what the hell man? Why are you trying to ruin my season… I’ll get you back. Be ready.”
Harvick is in a position where he’s either going to have to win this week at New Hampshire or the following week at Kansas. He’s currently in last place of the Chase, 16 points behind Clint Bowyer.
The good news for Harvick is he won on the similar Phoenix track back in March, was runner-up at Richmond in April and was third at New Hampshire in July. The bad news is he finished 14th at Richmond two weeks ago. While Harvick has been downgraded since mid-season, and hasn’t won since March, the JGR stable has taken over and won the past two on these types of tracks.
Matt Kenseth led 352 of 400 laps at Richmond two weeks ago in one of the more dominating performances of the season. He’s won three of the past seven races and grabbed his first and only win at NHMS in 2013 during his first year with JGR.
I like the desperation angle with Harvick, and I also like Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski to run strong, but there is just too much going right with JGR to go against them, and they come in waves at you.
Kyle Busch hasn’t won in a while and he’s a two-time NHMS winner. Hamlin has won two times there, while Edwards is searching for the first of his career.
If we could bet Mega-Sports pari-mutuel style like 15 years ago – fired it up with Mr. Vic Salerno, who brilliantly introduced the product with LeRoy’s – I would box an exacta with Kenseth and Busch and then maybe key those two to Hamlin and Logano on the back end of a trifecta.
Harvick, my pick to win the Chase, is in bad shape right now and while I will never doubt him, I came to believe the JGR cars are better than everyone else on 1.5-mile tracks even with the regular aero-package the season started with.
There was some inkling we might go back to June-type results, but momentum and knowledge have catapulted Toyota and JGR past everyone else. Hopefully, the next nine Chase races don’t reflect what we’re seeing lately.
Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, one of The Linemakers on SportingNews.com , and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Twitter: Twitter @MicahRoberts7 Email: [email protected].