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What to watch for in NASCAR Cup Series race at New Hampshire on USA

Ryan Blaney’s motivation for a second consecutive win is rather unique.

Blaney won last weekend’s inaugural Cup race at Iowa and corn was part of the props in Victory Lane. Should he win today’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, he’ll get a lobster.

“I’ve always wanted to hold the lobster ever since I was a kid,” Blaney said this weekend. “So hopefully we can keep adding to our entrees. We had corn last week and lobster this week and trying to add a full plate of dinner.”

The green flag is scheduled to wave at 2:06 p.m. ET today on USA.

Here are three things to watch in the race:

1. Streaking

Joe Gibbs Racing looks to continue a streak and Hendrick Motorsports hopes to end one today.

Joe Gibbs Racing has had a car finish in the top two in the last 12 races at New Hampshire. Martin Truex Jr. won last year’s race for JGR. Christopher Bell won the 2022 race for the team. The last time a JGR car did not finish first or second at New Hampshire was September 2014.

Christopher Bell spoke to the media Friday and let it slip who is expected to drive the No. 19 next year.

The weekend already has started well for the organization. Bell won Saturday’s Xfinity race.

New Hampshire Motor Speedway has not been a memorable track for Hendrick Motorsports. The organization last won a Cup race at the 1.058-mile track in July 2012. The driver? Kasey Kahne.

Hendrick will have three cars start in the top five after qualifying was canceled and the lineup was set by the qualifying metric. Chase Elliott is on the pole. William Byron starts third. Alex Bowman starts fifth.

2. Playoff picture

Nine races remain in the regular season, including today’s race. Bubba Wallace holds the final playoff spot.

Ten drivers have secured playoff positions with a win. That leaves six spots at this time via points.

Joey Logano is six points below the cutline. Kyle Busch is 31 points from the cutline. Chase Briscoe is 44 points below the cutline.

Logano starts sixth. Wallace starts 17th. Briscoe starts 23rd. Busch starts 30th in the 36-car field.

“I feel good about our chances of getting in,” Logano said this weekend. “But it’s not as comfortable as we want it to be, that’s for sure.”

Rain canceled qualifying at New Hampshire and the lineup was set by the qualifying metric.

3. The unexpected

Will the race go the full distance? Or will it end early?

The forecast calls for rain in the afternoon.

Track position and strategy are key at New Hampshire but the weather could create havoc and various strategy calls by crew chiefs.