THE LEFT TURN
NASCAR Cup Series at New Hampshire: Ambetter 301 Picks, preview
The stars of the Cup Series heads to New England this weekend for the Ambetter 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. This track is precisely one mile in length with absolutely no banking. Because this track is so flat, it’s difficult to pass, so it’s important to have a good track position. One part of the racetrack that is pretty tricky is the bump on the entry of turn four. This could cause problems throughout the race.
Last week, Chase Elliott went on to win his third race of the season. He now becomes the winningest driver this season and appears to be the favorite to win the championship. Throughout the day, Chase easily had the fastest car as he led a race-high 96 laps. The biggest controversy of the race came on the last lap as Elliott threw a block on Corey Lajoie causing a crash and ending the race. Many people including myself were critical of Elliott’s move but after looking at it further, it looked like a racing deal.
Lajoie was the underdog and many people wanted to see him finally get that first career win, and he was right in the mix all the way down to the last lap. When interviewed at the end, Corey was very gracious about Chase and his decision to make the move. When asked, Lajoie responded, “I made my move and it didn’t work out, he made a good block.” It was good to see both drivers were able to come away and let bygones be bygones in the end.
Two drivers on the opposite end of the spectrum are Ross Chastain and Denny Hamlin as they had yet another dust-up. In the closing laps, Chastain slid up the track in turn three and made contact with Hamlin, knocking him into a spin and collecting Brad Keselowski as well. As we all know, these two got together in St. Louis earlier this year. Before this year, the two also got together at Darlington in a Xfinity race back in 2020. All season, Denny has been on the receiving end of Ross Chastain’s aggressive driving style, and it’s becoming more and more of an issue.
While I enjoy Ross as a driver and have followed him since his debut in the truck series back in 2011 at IRP, he isn’t doing himself any favors. We have seen all the sacrifices that Ross has made to get here, he even raced for free back in 2019 in the Xfinity Series for Chip Ganassi. The talent is unmatched as he's having a career year, but if he wants to win the championship, he’s going to have to tone it down a notch. We have seen what damage a driver holding on to a grudge can do, look at Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano in 2015 for example. When Denny was interviewed you could tell how annoyed he was, and we’ve seen him retaliate before when he spun Brad Keselowski back in 2009 at Homestead.
Denny was also in the headlines off the racetrack this week as well. On Tuesday, Bob Pockrass dropped a bombshell on Twitter regarding his team and their driver lineup, as Tyler Reddick will move from RCR to 23XI in 2024. This sent massive shockwaves throughout the racing world. No one could have expected this. This announcement leaves an awkward gap year as he will remain at RCR for one more season. According to reports, car owner Richard Childress is livid with Reddick and his representation and their relationship is beyond repair. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next season and a half and where Reddick will drive when he gets to his new team.
To tie it all together, the driver I am picking to win this weekend is none other than Denny Hamlin. The veteran driver has been phenomenal at this track, with three wins and an average finish of 4.7 in the last four races. He’s clearly driving with a chip on his shoulder and is hungry for a win. It’s been a rather inconsistent season for him as he’s 19th in points, he is however in the playoffs due to his two victories at Richmond and Charlotte in the Coke 600. He is primed to go on a run and get back in the championship hunt, and it starts here this weekend at New Hampshire.