NASCAR Nostradamus: New Hampshire

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What will happen this weekend when the second race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup takes place at New Hampshire Motor Speedway?

NASCAR Talk’s Nate Ryan and Dustin Long have their ideas. Here’s what they say they’ll be watching during Sunday’s race on NBCSN.

Who is a Chase driver few are talking about but should be this weekend at New Hampshire?

NATE: Ryan Newman. Overlooked as always, the Richard Childress Racing driver has 16 top 10s at New Hampshire Motor Speedway – tied with Richmond International Raceway for his most at any Sprint Cup track. He also has three wins there – tied with Dover International Speedway for his most at any track. Newman proved again at Chicagoland that his team shouldn’t be discounted for raising its game in the Chase.

DUSTIN: Brad Keselowski. He enters Sunday’s race with 10 consecutive top-10 finishes – the longest in his career. He heads to a track where he finished second in July and led 100 of the 301 laps. Oh yes, he won this race a year ago. He could be the driver to snap Joe Gibbs Racing’s three-race winning streak.

Who should be more nervous around Kevin Harvick: Jimmie Johnson or Joey Logano?

NATE: Joey Logano. He has more history with Harvick than Johnson, and they seem to be the more combustible duo when racing for position (with the exception of the restart last week at Chicagoland Speedway). There also is a chance Harvick might revise his opinion of last week after dissecting the replay of Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet being bumped by Logano’s No. 22 Ford before hitting the No. 4 Chevy on the restart. But neither driver likely will have to worry until Harvick is eliminated from the Chase.

DUSTIN: Joey Logano. Jimmie Johnson already knows where he stands with Harvick on this matter. Logano? Well, that’s a gray area. This isn’t: Harvick and Logano have a history of run-ins and conflicts. Harvick likes to pick and bait drivers and this would be a prime time to do so with Logano, who shoved Johnson on that restart, which started the issue between Johnson and Harvick.

What’s something you will be watching for in Sunday’s race?

NATE: Strategy. Fuel mileage often can be a major factor at New Hampshire, as are pit calls for two or four tires (a critical factor in Joey Logano’s win there last September). Kyle Busch‘s win in July mostly was the result of a fortuitously timed pit stop that wasn’t by design, but it underscored how important it can be to hit the correct sequence.

DUSTIN: Restarts. Yes, there’s been a lot of talk about these lately, but I’ll be watching more than the leaders. The outside line is the preferred line. Most drivers on the inside line in the front rows typically lose a spot or two on a restart. With so much at stake, how aggressive will those on the bottom be to force their way to the top line? Could there be another driver confrontation after the race because of something that happened on a restart?