Last week, the night race at Daytona marked the official end of the first half of the season. Over the course of 18 races, dominant drivers emerged, vocal drivers spoke their opinion, and NASCAR had to hand out penalties on a car that teams were still learning.
Now that those 18 races are done, it's not common to see the series go to places that have not been seen yet on the circuit. But, that is exactly what the schedule dictates to start the second half of the season.
Some teams are hoping to get a spark of momentum, to get some magic back in their pockets to make a charge at the very end of the season.
This track certainly is a place where some "magic" can happen. After all, it is nicknamed the "Magic Mile." New Hampshire has been a track that despite hosting two of the shorter oval races on the season has been known to have great action, and some memorable wins. With the Gen-6 car making it's debut appearance at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, it is unknown what to expect.
One thing that is not known as well is who the writers have chose to win. Now that three of the four plate tracks are out of the way, more control is back in their favor. Knowing that, things are locked into place for another round of picks.
Here's who the baker's dozen have chose for victory in the Camping World RV Sales 301:
Misan Akuya: Tony Stewart
Back into the top ten in points, Stewart has a string of some his best tracks coming up. New Hampshire is no exception.
Three wins, over a thousand laps lead and the best driver there. Not to mention that he and the whole group at Stewart-Haas just tested there.
Smoke will be the one to beat on Sunday.
Rob Blount: Kasey Kahne
I’m going with Kahne because he’s been fast all season long and he’s good at New Hampshire. He did after all win this race last year.
James Broomhead: NO PICK
No pick sent by deadline.
Kelly Crandall: Kasey Kahne
Defending winner of the event and driving the same car that he won with in Bristol.
Billy Fellin: Kasey Kahne
He's been just as fast as the 24, 48 and 88 and won here last year. A second win would put him solidly in the Chase.
Michael Hirshbein: Kyle Busch
Christopher Leone: NO PICK
No pick sent by deadline.
Kara Martin: Clint Bowyer
Ryan O'Hara: Clint Bowyer
Dustin Parks: Tony Stewart
It was just two years ago that Stewart-Haas Racing not only won both races at this track, but swept the top two positions in both qualifying AND finishing order. Now I don't believe it will be a race where all three will pull it off, but the fact that in the quest to get some kind of advantage, the team did test here.
Stewart has won here before, most recently fall of 2011 when he began his march to a championship. I need a win, and betting on a smoke show this weekend.
Patti Rodisch: Jimmie Johnson
It really is between Johnson and Kenseth every week now. So this week I am going with Johnson.
I lost my points lead again after Daytona but I think Johnson will be the one to beat again this week.
Sal Sigala Jr: Jimmie Johnson
Rob Tiongson: Jeff Gordon
Because if I jinx him here, it's not because I picked him - it's because I'll be there!
Standings following Daytona:
Rob Tiongson (631) Tony Stewart finished 2nd (1)
Patti Rodisch (608) Jeff Gordon finished 34th (0)
Kelly Crandall (586) Matt Kenseth finished 33rd (1)
Sal Sigala Jr. (574) Jimmie Johnson WON (1)
Billy Fellin (567) Kevin Harvick finished 3rd (1)
Michael Hirshbein (560) Kyle Busch finished 12th (2)
Dustin Parks (544) Danica Patrick finished 14th (0)
Rob Blount (540) Matt Kenseth finished 33rd (1)
James Broomhead (520) NO PICK SENT (1)
Kara Martin (496) Tony Stewart finished 2nd (0)
Ryan O'Hara (496) Jeff Gordon finished 34th (0)
Misan Akuya (471) Jamie McMurray finished 7th (1)
Christopher Leone (420) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 8th (0)
Final Thoughts: As the summer nights get longer, it seems like the teams that rise to the top start to come on strong as the Chase nears. Race 19 at New Hampshire means that only eight races remain before the top-10 get reset and the two Wild Card entries get names. Momentum is critical, but a little magic never hurts either.
It is the final race in the TNT Summer Series, which on Sunday will start at Noon ET with "Countdown to Green," with the green flag waving just over an hour afterward.
Summary of Picks: