NASCAR Crayon 301 2023 Drivers, Predictions and Best Bets: Martin Truex Jr. remains at the top

Martin Truex Jr. is the favorite heading into the Federated Auto Parts 400 race
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NASCAR takes a trip to the Northeast with this week’s Crayon 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Known as the “Magic Mile”, its always an interesting track in the middle of the NASCAR Cup Series season. Not only is the racing interesting, so is the trophy as part of it is a live lobster. Just like the claws of a lobster, if a driver and team aren’t careful this track can pinch you in a hurry and without warning. What are we expecting to see? What will the new package, and wet weather tires, mean for the racing? Which drivers are we predicting to win? What are the best prop bets we can make for the Crayon 301? All of those are answered below.

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New Hampshire Motor Speedway Track Layout

The only track in the Northeast that the highest level of NASCAR races at, New Hampshire is a 1-mile oval layout. It looks like someone stretched Martinsville’s straightaways and widened the corners a tad. It’s also flat. Like even flatter than Martinsville. That means that to pass here you have to get creative or use a bumper. Many opt for the bumper option. The chrome horn is used quite frequently throughout this race much like at Richmond and Martinsville. Despite it being a tight track, we’ve seen drivers able to move up here to win, nab top-fives, and top-10s in the last few years. This year however, we’ll see a slightly different package on the cars including wet tires to help with the potential for rain in the forecast. The previous tracks to use this package, Phoenix, Richmond, Martinsville, and Gateway have all seen tight passing lines and the need for strategy to stake a claim to the front of the pack.

NASCAR Crayon 301 Betting Strategies

What does the layout and package and similar racing mean for betting here? Firstly, it means that we should be banking on the drivers that have shown consistent speed and results at similar tracks since 2022. The teams that have figured out the setups will give them a leg up over those that haven’t quite yet which is a big advantage with just 20 minutes of practice on Saturday. Secondly, we shouldn’t be scared off of props simply because a driver didn’t run as well as we’d hoped in practice or qualifying. Remember, there’s still be plenty of passing at places like Richmond, Phoenix, Martinsville, and Gateway and pit strategy can play a huge role in track position too. As mentioned below, we’ll also be looking at Green Flag Speed and Late Run Speed stats this week because New Hampshire is generally fairly caution free. So drivers with the best speed that carries throughout a run will make up ground and places.

NASCAR Crayon 301 Winner Best Bets

Martin Truex Jr. +650 (DraftKings)

Truex didn’t start out as a co-favorite this week but the money has come in on him to make him that as of Friday. There’s good reason for that swing too. Truex has the best average finish at this track over the last eight races at 5.5, all without a win. If we look at Green Flag Speed and Late Run Speed, Truex has had a faster car than Bell over the last several similar races including last year’s win by Bell. So in a vacuum, the edge, though slight, does swing a bit to Truex over Bell.

Christopher Bell +650 (DraftKings)

Bell has been in three different series over the last six years and yet has five wins in those six years at New Hampshire. That includes winning the Cup Series race here a year ago. Bell has carried speed this year at the shorter, flatter tracks and Toyota has excelled at this style of track in the Next Gen car. All of that puts Bell squarely in the conversation for being a favorite for Sunday’s race.

William Byron +1000 (DraftKings)

Why is he discounted like this? He and his teammate Kyle Larson have had the fastest cars on shorter, flatter tracks this year. So what’s different this week? Byron won Phoenix, led 117 laps at Richmond, and led 30 laps with a P8 finish at Gateway. That’s too much speed to ignore Byron even with no career top-10 finishes at New Hampshire.

Brad Keselowski +2000 (Caesars)

New Hampshire has been a good track for Keselowski regardless of the team that he’s racing for. In the last eight races here, Keselowski has an 8.8 average finish, third-best in the field, and that includes a P1 and P3 in two of the last three races. He showed good speed at Phoenix, Richmond, Martinsville, and Gateway though the finishes may not bare that out as he had some bad luck. With 15 top-10s in 22 races here in his career, it’s a pretty sure bet he’ll be competing for the win as we get close to race’s end.

Ryan Preece +6600 (BetRivers)

The Magic Mile has been known to provide long shot winners in the past, most notably Aric Almirola at 80-1 in 2021 (which I called). It’s not just that there’s a history of it happening, it’s that Preece is a good racer on this style of track. He led 135 laps at Martinsville and started on the pole. He moved up well at Richmond, Phoenix, and Gateway as well. We will need that kind of Martinsville speed here if we have a shot at this but if he has it and gets some breaks, we get a long shot win.

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NASCAR Crayon 301 Prop Best Bets

Christopher Bell Top-5 Finish +110 (BetRivers)

Bell had top-six finishes at Richmond and Phoenix this year but has a long history across multiple series of running well here. So with that it’s a bit shocking to see plus money odds on this bet for Bell finishing top-five. In the last two Cup races at New Hampshire, Bell has finished P2 and P1 respectively.

Martin Truex Jr. +105 vs Christopher Bell (DraftKings)

This might seem a tad odd but we’re talking about two cars that have borne out to be even over the last several similar races. In fact, even though Bell won last year, there’s arguments to be made that Truex had the better car. So if we’re talking about even cars with similar runs at similar races, why not take the plus money return and hedge a bit in case they don’t win?

Kevin Harvick Top-5 Finish +140 (Caesars)

It’s been an interesting year for Harvick to be sure but he’s finished well at similar tracks like Phoenix, Richmond, and Gateway. Even when he’s struggled the last two years, New Hampshire has been good for him having finished worse than P6 just once in the last eight races. That’s more than enough history for this bet to be worth it.

Alex Bowman Top-10 Finish +175 (Caesars)

This bet takes a bit more explaining than some of the other props listed above. However, it still makes too much sense not to bet. So what’s the explanation we need? Prior to his back injury, Bowman finished P9 at Phoenix, P8 at Richmond, and P11 at Martinsville. He’s also finished P11 or better twice in the last five races at New Hampshire. That means he’s essentially pulled this off 40-percent of the time compared to the 36.4-percent implied odds this line gives. So if he can get back to his pre-injury form this is a nice value line for Bowman.

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