Table of Contents
1. The winner of this race wins a lobster. Can you please rank the 3 Top Oddball trophies on the NASCAR circuit?
Jeff: You should put the Martinsville Grandfather Clock in P1 for this list, right? I mean, yeah, it’s very traditional and part of NASCAR lore at this point. But also… a grandfather clock? For winning a short track race? This counts as eccentric. And while it’s a very, very cool award, Dover’s Miles the Monster trophy has to make the list. You win a race and essentially a high-quality toy figure holding a toy car. And then third, maybe Nashville’s guitar trophy would be called quirky (even if it’s quite appropriate for the region, just like this weekend’s lobster).
Jordan: Martinsville is a real centerpiece, something you can display in your home without looking odd unlike a surfboard – sorry Fontana. The Nashville guitar is second, as it would also make a good interior decoration. And the third is the Harley J. Earl trophy, which you get for winning the Daytona 500. You win the Daytona, you should proudly show off a 4-foot-tall trophy that certainly isn’t lightweight. A close fourth is the vintage Coke machine the Coca-Cola 600 winner receives. It’s just cool.
2. Who would we like to win this week at the Magic Mile?
Jeff: Before clicking on the link to open the odds, the name that came to mind was Christopher Bell. Sure enough, it’s currently listed as the favorite (sorry). But there is a good reason. Not only did Bell win last year’s race and finish second in 2021, but he’s been consistently excellent there in multiple series. In Xfinity, for example, Bell raced there three times – and won all three! And in his two career truck starts at NHMS, he has finished second and first. The guy knows how to move, so bet against him at your own risk.
Jordan: Bell is the obvious choice this weekend – he’s so good here. Beyond him, Denny Hamlin is also a solid choice. Hamlin’s three wins at New Hampshire trail only Kevin Harvick (four) for most active drivers and his 9.5 average is the best on the track.
NOOB question of the week: We became Noah Gragson fans for no other reason than his brilliant advice on dating apps in this week’s 12 questions. And then we remembered that he was”the guy with the haircutand also “the guy who tried to fight Ross Chastain.” And then his great-grandfather was the mayor of Las Vegas. And it goes on and on. We had to stop googling. standings in the Cup Series. Is he in danger of losing his place in the Cup Series for 2024? Or is it just a learning curve for beginners?
Jeff: It’s two things: the rookie’s struggles and the fact that he’s driving for a Legacy Motor Club team that’s downgraded as an organization overall this year. A bad time to join the team, in other words. Take a look at veteran teammate Erik Jones, who won the Southern 500 last year and had a very solid season; this year, Jones’ average standings have dropped four places and he has only three top 10 finishes in 19 races. It’s not a problem with the driver, it’s a problem with the cars. Legacy will be looking to step up next season by switching from Chevrolet to Toyota, and it should also be a fresh start for Gragson.
@nascaronfox A bet with Austin Dillon resulted in Noah Gragson’s new bowl cut. 😂🏁 #NASCAR ♬ original sound – NASCAR on FOX
Jordan: Jumping to the Cup brings with it a steep learning curve where it’s common for a promising first-year driver to struggle to make the leap. All of this is compounded by the fact that Legacy Motor Club is in the midst of a big transition from Chevrolet to Toyota. Add those two factors together and you can see why Gragson is struggling this season.
3. Who’s a long shot you like this week?
Jeff: It’s very strange to see Ryan Preece so low in the odds (+5000) and I wonder if he hasn’t been forgotten by bettors. Of course, Preece hasn’t been in contention very often this season and Stewart-Haas Racing as a whole is down. But it’s the Preece track, where he’s made 26 starts in the Whelen Modified Tour and generally knows how to find speed there. Also, don’t forget that Preece took pole at Martinsville and led the first 135 laps of that race before being penalized for speeding – and that track is sort of a distant cousin to the NHMS. If anyone can pull off a surprise this week, it’s Preece.
Jordan: Preece is a great pick and if Jeff hadn’t tabbed him, he’d be the pick in this space. So, with Preece out of the picture, let’s go with his SHR teammate Aric Almirola, who is used to getting a long win at this track.
4. The last two weeks have been street racing and a rain-shortened explosion at a Superspeedway. Martin Truex Jr. struggled with both – should we ignore these two because of the weird circumstances? Or has the momentum run out?
Jeff: Yes, I would go ahead and ignore the last two weeks for Truex. Especially at the NHMS, where Truex should have won last year’s race (he led the most laps) before a bad pit call ruined his day. It wouldn’t be at all surprising to see Truex move on and claim victory at a place where he has led 918 career laps despite never having won the race.
Jordan: The past two weeks have been an anomaly, not an accurate barometer for where Truex and the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing team stand. Expect him to return to form on Sunday and seriously challenge for the win.
Pencil Odds 301 (at BetMGM)
(Top photo: Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images; Loudon the lobster photo: Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images; Kyle Bssch, his wife and Miles the monster photo: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)