September 12, 2008
Experts' Picks: Sylvania 300
  My Pick: Kyle Busch
Why he'll win: Busch is SI's pick to win it all, and it says here the best driver of 2008 starts the Chase with a victory.
Keep an eye on: Joey Logano -- The 18-year-old wonderboy makes his Cup debut on Sunday, and it would surprise no one in the garage if he finishes in the top-10. He's that good.
Don't expect much from: Ryan Newman -- This has been a lost year for Newman. Winless and currently 16th in the points, Newman finished 15th at Loudon earlier this year.
  My Pick: Jimmie Johnson
Why he'll win: The 48 team is dialed in right now, and New Hampshire is a place where it knows how to win. In 13 races at the track, Johnson has won twice and finished in the top-10 a total of eight times.
Keep an eye on: Joey Logano -- He'll be making the most ballyhooed debut in recent memory this weekend. Will the kid be able to live up to the hype right off the bat? Based on his talent, he definitely appears capable of posting a top-20 finish. His only limitation is likely to be his car.
Don't expect much from: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. -- Junior says that the tracks in the Chase set up well for him, but this week seems like a tough go. He's got just seven top-10 finishes and no wins in 18 career starts at NHMS.
  My Pick: Tony Stewart
Why he'll win: What do we always say about Tony -- the second he's in the news, the second his car shows up in Victory Lane. With a controversial interview in Rolling Stone, a pending departure from Joe Gibbs Racing, and some harsh words for his pit crew at Richmond, Stewart's given us plenty to talk about over the past week. Which means it's a given he'll end up duplicating his June performance at Loudon -- he led a race-high 132 laps -- only this time, he'll overshadow replacement Joey Logano's Sprint Cup debut with his first win of 2008.
Keep an eye on: Kevin Harvick -- This summer, Harvick led 54 laps and was in contention for the win until a rain-shortened race at Loudon pulled pit strategy into play. He'll look to improve on a disappointing 14th place finish and extend his streak of Top 10 runs leading into the Chase. Keep in mind this team knows how to get the job done in New England: Harvick won the playoff opener here back in 2006.
Don't expect much from: Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson -- The top three seeds are overwhelming favorites to dominate the Chase, but don't expect any of them to get off to a strong start. None of them looked impressive at Loudon in June: each one failed to lead a lap, while combining for an average finish of just 17th. Ouch!
  My Pick: Kyle Busch
Why he'll win: It's time to let the Chase begin and expect to see the best driver this season lead the pace to start the Chase. Busch is a former winner at the flat one-mile oval, driving to victory in the June 2006 race. He was fourth in this race last year but 25th in the first race there in 2008. But with 10 races left to decide the championship, Busch should be back at the front of the field as he battles the 11 other drivers that will determine this year's NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. .
Keep an eye on: Jimmie Johnson -- The hottest driver entering the Chase as he goes for his third-straight title, He has two wins at New Hampshire but those came way back in 2003. But with eight top-10 finishes in 13 starts Johnson is always a threat to contend for victory in "The Granite State" especially this year with his recent surge.
Don't expect much from: Carl Edwards -- The driver who is one of the three favorites for the championship (along with Edwards and Jimmie Johnson) has no wins at New Hampshire and just one top-10 finish. While statistics are just numbers, expect to see Edwards contending at times in this one but this is not one of his better tracks.
  My Pick: Denny Hamlin
Why he'll win: Mischievously quiet but devilishly productive recently, he thrust himself into the Chase for the Championship with a solid third-place finish at Richmond, his third straight race with that finish. He has four New Hampshire finishes of eighth or better -- including a win in 2007 -- in five starts. He's only led 48 laps at Loudon, but he's ready to again win the one that matters.
Keep an eye on: Jimmie Johnson -- Why? Because he's Jimmie Johnson and it's Jimmie Johnson season. He hasn't won at Loudon since sweeping the series there in 2003. Ahhh, details.
Don't expect much from: Carl Edwards -- Second in the points standings, he likely will seek his burst into the postseason elsewhere. Though he finished second at Loudon in the 2006 summer race, his average finish is 14th in eight starts. His last four: 18th, 13th, 12th, 17th.
  My Pick: Tony Stewart
Why he'll win: Stewart will transform his frustration from finishing second for the third time in six races and fourth this season into calculated aggression and his first win of '08. You can bet the No. 20 crew will be on top of their game, too, after letting a win get away last Sunday on the final pit stop. Stewart had the car to beat at New Hampshire in June when he led 132 laps and was robbed by rain that stopped the race 17 laps early.
Keep an eye on: Kevin Harvick -- He had one of his strongest races of the season in June at New Hampshire, leading 54 laps. Harvick was directly behind Stewart, but the rain stopped the race and ended his hopes of challenging for his first win of the season. Harvick finished eighth or better in six straight races and led a season-high 80 laps at Richmond last week. The No. 29 seems ready to take its performance level up a notch.
Don't expect much from: Greg Biffle -- In the Car of Today races at New Hampshire, he finished 21st in June and 13th and 31st last year. Biffle has three top-fives and one more top-10 in 12 races, but has led only 26 laps and has a 19.5 average finish at the track.
  My Pick: Jimmie Johnson
Why he'll win: Let's say with the hot hand, which is Jimmie Johnson. Not only is he peaking at the right time, but he loves the Chase races. At New Hampshire, he's posted five top-10 finishes in his last six starts at the track and won both races at the track in 2003.
Keep an eye on: Tony Stewart -- He just might have a going-away present for owner Joe Gibbs. Stewart battled for the win last week and has finished second or third in the last three September races at New Hampshire. Stewart also knows what it takes during the Chase.
Don't expect much from: Carl Edwards -- Carl Edwards has won three of the last six races of 2008 and his worse finish in that span is 13th. However, Edwards hasn't shined at Loudon. In eight career starts at New Hampshire, Edwards has finished better than 12th just once.

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