Friday, September 12, 2008

Rusty Reckons: New Hampshire

The Chase is on, and here comes Rusty up the back stretch (not really, but it's a good song).

NASCAR begins its version of a playoff system this coming weekend at Loudon. The Chase is a unique playoff system for racing. After Richmond, the top 12 drivers qualify for the chase. The point totals of those 12 drivers are then all brought up to an even 5000, separating them from the rest of the pack. 10 bonus points are then assigned to each driver based on the number of races won over the season (Busch won 8 races, get 80 points, and so on). So, in the end, you get 12 drivers only 80 points apart from each other racing for the championship over a 10 race playoff. In the words of June-bug, "that's awesome!"

Later this week, ol' Rusty will give you his predictions and handicaps for the entire set of 10 races, but right now, it's time to focus on New Hampshire.

The flat track of New England is a unique beast. First, it's flat, only about 12 degrees worth of banking in the turns. Second, like Martinsville, it's shaped like a paper clip. The turns and straightaways are almost identical to one another. This creates a single groove race track where track position means a lot. There's not much passing here, so being able to qualify up front will really put a driver in a better position to win. But to qualify well, you really need to get a later draw, just ask Patrick Carpentier. The later guys have the advantage of the rubber laid down on the track by the first set of qualifiers. So, what in the dickens does that mean for your fantasy team?

A list is probably the easiest pick. Denny Hamlin is the only driver among those in the chase with an average finish in the top 10. With 1 win, 2 top 5's, and 4 top 10's in only 5 starts, Denny averages a 6.8 finish up yonder in those Yankee hinterlands. That's perty darn good, making this pick a snap.

B list gets a little hairier. No one really stands out in Rusty's mind. So, let's look at the numbers. Ole Ryan Newman doesn't look too shabby, and Ryan's barely been used out of Rusty's stable this year. So, why not? He's got 2 wins, and 8 top 10's with only 13 starts. Ryan seems to like the flat tracks, cause he does pretty well at Martinsville too, which is the most similar track to the flatness of New Hampshire.

Okay . . . . C List . . . the chances of getting a winner outta here is like the chances of Rusty getting a date with Carrie Underwood (wouldn't that be sweet, Lumpy!) So, we are just looking for a good finish. Well, of the guys on the C List, Reutimann might be the best at present. He actually led a good bit of laps at Richmond last week, and seems to be on a streak of good finishes. He's had back to back top 10's!!!

There you have it!

A List
- D Hamlin (11)
B List
- R Newman (12)
C List
- D Reutimann (44)

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