ADAM ANSELL’S TOP 25 FOR LOUDON
1. Jeff Gordon: Gordon finished 10th at Kentucky, giving him three consecutive Top 10s. In 32 starts at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Gordon has three wins (1995, 1997, 1998), 14 Top Fives, 18 Top 10s and three poles with an Average Finish of 11th. He’s finished in second place five times since his last win at the site. He’s led at least two laps in two of his last four starts. He’s started inside the Top Four on the grid 13 times. Gordon ranks second in Driver Rating (107.0) at Loudon. He leads all drivers in Average Running Position (7.6), Laps in the Top 15 (3,206) and Average Green Flag Speed (124.473 mph). He’s back to being the trustworthy superstar Fantasy owners are used to seeing. Start him without fear in all formats.
2. Jimmie Johnson: Johnson finished third at Kentucky and is just 19 points behind the Series leader. In 18 starts at New Hampshire, Johnson has three wins (2003 sweep, 2010), six Top Fives and 12 Top 10s with an Average Finish of 9.9. He’s led at least nine laps in four of his last five starts. Prior to his 25th-place finish at the September event last season, Johnson had an Average Finish of 5.1 in seven starts from 2007-10. He’s started inside the Top Four on the grid five times. Johnson ranks third in DR (106.8) and in ARP (9.6). He’s a very safe start this weekend.
3. Kyle Busch: Busch won the inaugural Kentucky event, posting his best single-race DR (145.6) of the season and leading 125 of 267 laps. In 12 New Hampshire starts, Busch has one win (2006), four Top Fives and six Top 10s with an Average Finish of 14.7. He led 46 laps in the June 2010 event on his way to an 11th-place finish. Overall, he’s led at least three laps in five starts. He’s started inside the Top Four on the grid twice. Busch ranks 10th in DR (91.3) and 14th in ARP (14.5). He’s back on top in the Series standings and with four Top Fives in his last five Cup starts, Fantasy owners should get used to it.
4. Kevin Harvick: Harvick finished 16th at Kentucky and sits in third-place in the Cup standings, just 10 points off the Series points lead. In 20 starts at Loudon, Harvick has one win (2006), five Top Fives, 11 Top 10s and one pole with an Average Finish of 13.9. He hasn’t led a lap at New Hampshire since 2008 (54). Overall, he’s led at least one lap in eight races. Despite not leading last season, he recorded fifth-place finishes in both 2010 appearances. He’s started inside the Top Four on the grid three times. Harvick ranks ninth in DR (92.6) and in ARP (13.2). “The Closer” is always looming, and will come at an excellent value in Tiered/Grouping formats.
5. Tony Stewart: Smoke has led at least one lap in each of his last three Cup starts. In 24 starts at NHMS, Stewart has two wins (2000, 2005), 12 Top Fives, 14 Top 10s and one pole with an Average Finish of 12.4. He’s led at least one lap in each of his last seven starts, and in 15 starts overall. He’s started inside the Top Four on the grid in three of his last four starts at Loudon. Stewart leads all competitors in DR (113.0), Laps Led (799) and Fastest Laps Run (334). He ranks second in ARP (9.2). He’d be ranked higher if we based our outlook purely on the past, but one Top Five in his last five Cup starts doesn’t inspire much confidence.
6. Kurt Busch: Busch finished ninth last week at Kentucky, his eighth straight Top 15. In 20 starts at NHMS, Busch has three wins (2004 sweep, 2008), seven Top Fives and 10 Top 10s with an Average Finish of 13.7. He’s led at least seven laps in five of his last eight starts. In his 2004 sweep, he led 110 and 155 laps in each race. He’s led at least three laps in each of his last seven starts. Busch ranks eighth in DR (93.5) and seventh in ARP (12.8). He may just be the hottest driver on the circuit and needs to be strongly considered in all formats.
7. Clint Bowyer: Bowyer has finished 36th (Daytona) and 35th (Kentucky) in his last two Cup starts. In 10 starts at Loudon, Bowyer has two wins (2007, 2010), four Top 10s and one pole with an Average Finish of 16.1. In his 2007 win, he started from the pole and led 222 of 300 laps. The defending champion of the September event posted a 149.4 DR (150.0 is perfect), 1.9 ARP and led 177 of 300 laps on his way to the Checkered Flag. Bowyer ranks sixth in DR (96.6) and eighth in ARP (12.9). He’s due to break out of his mini-slump, and is an excellent Tiered/Grouping format option.
8. Carl Edwards: Edwards finished fifth a week ago at Kentucky, giving him three Top Fives in his last five starts. In 13 Loudon starts, Edwards has two Top Fives with an Average Finish of 14.5. He’s led at least two laps in three of his last five starts. He finished 25th and 11th in his two 2010 Loudon appearances. Edwards ranks 13th in DR (87.9) and 14th in ARP (14.1). Mixed in with those three Top Fives in his last five starts are two 37th-place finishes. That’s not a knock on his consistency – it’s just something Fantasy owners need to consider.
9. Ryan Newman: Newman racked up his best finish of the season (fourth) last week at Kentucky and jumped up to ninth in the Series standings. In 18 Loudon starts, Newman has two wins (2002, 2005), five Top Fives, 12 Top 10s and four poles with an Average Finish of 13th. He’s recorded three straight Top 10s. He’s led at least one lap in three of his last four starts. Newman ranks 12th in DR (90.8) and 13th in ARP (14.1). He won’t come at a discounted value in Tiered/Grouping formats, but needs to be in starting lineups, anyway.
10. Denny Hamlin: Hamlin finished 11th at Kentucky and currently sits on the edge of the Chase cutoff at 10th in the standings. In 10 starts at NHMS, Hamlin has one win (2007), four Top Fives and seven Top 10s with an Average Finish of 7.6. He’s finished in second place in two of his last three Loudon appearances. He’s never finished outside the Top 15. He’s led at least one lap in two of his last four starts. Hamlin ranks fourth in DR (100.5) and in ARP (10.6). Hamlin will have to claw his way into the Chase, and that level of desperation will be to the advantage of Fantasy owners.
11. Juan Pablo Montoya: Has captured two of the last three poles at New Hampshire. 86.0 DR.
12. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Six Top Fives and 10 Top 10s with an Average Finish of 16.8 in 23 starts at Loudon. 99.7 DR.
13. Mark Martin: One win (2009), nine Top Fives, 14 Top 10s and two poles with an Average Finish of 11.7 in 28 starts at NHMS. 91.0 DR.
14. Jeff Burton: Four wins (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000), eight Top Fives and 13 Top 10s with an Average Finish of 13.5 in 32 New Hampshire starts. 94.6 DR.
15. Greg Biffle: Will change crew chiefs after finishing 21st at Kentucky and dropping to 14 in the Cup standings. 85.8 DR.
16. Brad Keselowski: 71.8 DR.
17. Matt Kenseth: 78.3.
18. David Ragan: 58.2.
19. Paul Menard: 48.7.
20. Kasey Kahne: 82.9.
21. Joey Logano
22. Marcos Ambrose
23. A.J. Allmendinger
24. David Reutimann
25. Jamie McMurray
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