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Y! Sports picks: Sylvania 300

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Track Facts

Venue: New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Race length: 317 miles
No. of laps: 300
Qualifying: Fri., 3:40 p.m. ET
Race: Sun., 2:15 p.m. ET (ESPN)
STAT OF THE WEEK
Loudon a must: All 12 Chase drivers finished in the top 13 at New Hampshire in July, meaning a poor finish Sunday could have someone playing catch up.
JULY RACE
Top 5
1. Kasey Kahne
2. Denny Hamlin
3. Clint Bowyer
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
5. Brad Keselowski
RECENT WINNERS
2011: Tony Stewart
2010: Clint Bowyer
2009: Mark Martin
2008: Greg Biffle
2007: Clint Bowyer
2006: Kevin Harvick
2005: Ryan Newman
2004: Kurt Busch
2003: Jimmie Johnson
2002: Ryan Newman
ALSO THIS WEEKEND:
Nationwide Series
Kentucky 300, Kentucky Speedway, Sat., 4:15 p.m .


Kentucky 201, Kentucky Speedway, Fri., 7:48 p.m .

EXPERT STANDINGS
NOTE: Jay Hart ended the regular season with 816 points, followed by Jay Busbee with 775 and Nick Bromberg with 755.
Hart:  2059 points (5 wins)
Bromberg:  2047 points (1 win)
Busbee:  2038 points (2 wins)
YAHOO! SPORTS FANTASY AUTO RACING
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New Hampshire preview (PDF)

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for Sunday's Sylvania 300.

Tony Stewart is the defending race winner.

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Who Will Win?

Tony Stewart: Did you sense how ticked off Smoke was after his "terrible" sixth-place finish at Chicagoland? He's been under the radar the last month, but he woke up in Chicago and a woken up Smoke is a dangerous Smoke. He'll win at New Hampshire, adding his name into the mix of an already wide open Chase. – Jay Hart

Clint Bowyer: Bowyer finished third earlier this year at New Hampshire and has Chase wins there in 2007 and 2010. After the 2010 win, his car failed post-race inspection and he was docked 150 points, which eliminated him from title contention. This year, a win and a passed post-race inspection vaults Bowyer into the title discussion. – Nick Bromberg

Denny Hamlin: We're starting to see such specialization that teams don't just have dominant tracks, they have dominant cars specifically engineered for those tracks. Last week it was Jimmie Johnson's 48, which lost on strategy not horsepower, and this week we've got Denny Hamlin returning to the track he absolutely throttled earlier this year before a tire mixup sent him into the middle of the pack. As long as Hamlin brings back that ride, the No. 11 will follow through on his promise to win this weekend. – Jay Busbee

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Top Storyline

Who will deviate from the mean? All of the Chasers have average finishes inside the top 17 at New Hampshire, so a driver or two could see their title chances seriously crippled with a bad finish. – Nick Bromberg

One race and we're already seeing separation among the players. We already know about Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth, but the guys who really need to watch themselves are Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick. They've been solid but unspectacular all year, and they're out of time for solid but unspectacular finishes. If these two can't get some top-5s fast, it'll be time to start looking to 2013. – Jay Busbee

It's really all about Jeff Gordon? Is he already out of the title hunt or will a top-5 finish keep him in contention? Anything less and he really will be out of it. – Jay Hart

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FROM THE SOURCE

"Well, if you look at where we were last year, we're pretty much in the same position where we were point-wise. We didn't have the bonus points last year, so that kind of made up for what we lost in not winning the race on Sunda." – Tony Stewart

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