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?

Saturday NASCAR schedule at Talladega Superspeedway

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Both the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series will race Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway.

Cup cars will start the day’s action by qualifying for Sunday’s playoff race, followed by the Truck playoff race and then the Xfinity playoff race.

Talladega Superspeedway (Cup, Xfinity and Truck)

Weekend weather

Saturday: Sunny. High of 78.

Saturday, Oct. 1

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. — Cup Series
  • 9:30 a.m. — Truck Series
  • 1 p.m. — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 10:30 a.m. – Noon — Cup Series qualifying (NBC Sports app, Motor Racing Network, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio)
  • 12:30 p.m. — Truck Series race (94 laps, 250 miles; FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 4 p.m. — Xfinity Series race (113 laps, 300 miles; USA Network, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Talladega Xfinity starting lineup: Austin Hill wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — Austin Hill will lead the field to the green flag Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway after scoring his first career Xfinity Series pole.

Hill won the pole Friday with a lap of 182.036 mph. He will be joined on the front row by fellow playoff contender Ty Gibbs (181.981 mph).

MORE: Talladega Xfinity starting lineup

Playoff drivers will start in seven of the top eight spots. The exception is Sheldon Creed, who will start third after a lap of 181.870 mph. Hill and Creed give Richard Childress Racing the first and third starting spots.

Justin Allgaier (181.529) qualified fourth and Brandon Jones (181.305) completed the top five. Noah Gragson, who has won four races in a row, starts sixth after a lap of 181.134 mph and is followed by playoff drivers Josh Berry (181.052) and AJ Allmendinger (180.932).

The Xfinity Series race is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET Saturday on USA Network.

Talladega Truck starting lineup: John Hunter Nemechek wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — John Hunter Nemechek will start on the pole for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race.

Nemechek earned the pole with a lap of 178.767 mph.

Nemechek is one of four playoff drivers starting in the top six: Chandler Smith (second, 177.732 mph), Zane Smith (fourth, 177.061) and Ty Majeski (sixth, 176.744). Majeski clinched a spot in next month’s championship race at Phoenix with his Bristol win.

MORE: Talladega Truck starting lineup

Also qualifying in the top five were Carson Hocevar (177.068) in third and Matt Crafton (176.960) in fifth.

Failing to qualify are Tim Viens, Spencer Boyd, Jason White and Natalie Decker.

Saturday Talladega Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather

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The second race of the opening round of the Xfinity playoffs takes drivers to Talladega Superspeedway.

Noah Gragson secured his spot in the next round by winning last weekend at Texas. Ryan Sieg holds the final transfer spot. Riley Herbst is the first driver below the cutline, one point behind Sieg. Also below the cutline are reigning series champion Daniel Hemric (-8 points), Brandon Jones (-12) and Jeremy Clements (-28).

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Talladega Superspeedway

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 4:09 p.m. … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 4:21 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 1 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 3:30 p.m. … The invocation will be given at 4 p.m. … The Brookwood High School choir will perform the anthem at 4:02 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 113 laps (300.58 miles) on the 2.66-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 25. Stage 2 ends at Lap 50.

TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 4 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 3:30 p.m. on USA Network. … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. and also will stream at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

STREAMING: NBCsports.com

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Sunny with a high of 78 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Noah Gragson won and was followed by Jeffrey Earnhardt and AJ Allmendinger.