by Josh Liddick – Editor
Well, Round 2 of the NASCAR Playoffs commences this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and we’ll find out who is the next driver to make their way into the Round of 12.
Martin Truex Jr. already punched his ticket by winning at Chicagoland last weekend, and now at Loudon, another driver has a chance to do the same.
Qualifying finished up on Friday night, and 2015 NASCAR Champion, Kyle Busch was fast enough to claim the pole position for Sunday’s race.
The qualifying format for this race was knockout style, so every driver was qualifying at the same time. This style of qualification can be controversial, especially in the event of wrecking prematurely, effectively costing you your race car, prompting a backup car change and starting from the rear of the field on Sunday.
Early in his first lap, Busch nearly wrecked his car in turn one, but a successful second and third lap helped him pave the way for a top finish over Kyle Larson, who will start in second on Sunday.
Starting first doesn’t always guarantee victory, as Busch is well aware of, after starting on the pole last week at Chicago, not coming away with a win.
In my opinion, the man to beat here is Kyle Larson.
All season long, it’s been a neck-and-neck goose chase between Larson and Truex for the win in many races.
Truex came away with victory last weekend, it’s time Larson does the same.
All year long, I had said Larson was my pick to win his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship at season’s end, and by starting on the front row, Larson puts himself in pretty good shape to outlast the 300 miles and claim a spot in the next round of the Playoffs.
However, there are 15 other drivers who are chomping at the bit to advance to the next round, and really, to just win another race.
Ryan Newman, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch, and Denny Hamlin are all three-time winners at New Hampshire. All of these drivers are fighting for a chance to move on to the next round.
Kyle Busch has won this race twice, leading the third-most amount of laps among recent drivers at 787. He trails only Tony Stewart (1,302) and Jeff Gordon (1,373).
Clint Bowyer, albeit not in the Playoffs, is also a two-time winner at the track, is still looking for his first win of the season, and his first as a driver for Stewart-Haas Racing. If he could have it his way, Bowyer would be in Victory Lane at the race’s conclusion.
If all things go as planned, there will be a winner crowned on Sunday, and it will set-up an all-out brawl to stay in the hunt for a championship next weekend at Dover.