Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Keselowski massive favorite at New Hampshire; going for third straight win

Brad Keselowski goes for sixth win of season and sweep at Loudon, NH
The beginning of NASCAR's 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup couldn't have kicked off any better. Brad Keselowski is now riding a tidal wave of victories, from dominating at Richmond two weeks ago to winning last week at Chicago.

What do you make of him? Is he a villain? Or is he the breath of fresh air some have waited for in this era of Jimmie Johnson dominance?

It wasn't too long ago he was wetting his beak in the top series and earning the nickname 'Brad Crash-a-lot-ski' from a few prominent Cup drivers thanks to his ultra-aggressive driving and some early mistakes. But now he's starting to repeat 2012, a year he won Chicago to kick off the Chase en route to winning the title.

The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook has made a major adjustment on the odds to win Sunday's Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway just because of what we have seen recently with Keselowski. And it's not about winning two consecutive races coming in, but rather winning two consecutive races on a specific type of track.

He's been posted at 7-to-2 odds, which is a major price reduction from what we've seen all season, where three to four drivers have been favorites in the 5-to-1 range. At one time, four drivers were considered equal almost everywhere. By posting Keselowski so low, it's saying that Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson and Joey Logano are only secondary figures and the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford should be in victory lane for a series-leading sixth time this season.

Because New Hampshire's flat 1-mile layout requires almost the same set-up as Richmond or Phoenix, we can group them all together, and the cool thing about it being this late in the season is that there are four races of data to scroll through.

The best handicapping practice for this race is to look at what's happened in the last two events on the similar tracks. So let's see: Keselowski led 383 of the 400 laps at Richmond on Sept. 6 and then on July 13 he led 138 laps en route to a win at New Hampshire. That's 2-for-2 on recent tracks that are most critical to the number.

If we go back further to include the other two like-track races, Keselowski finished fourth at Richmond in April and third at Phoenix in March. No one in the series has a resume even close to being as good. Logano won at the first Richmond race and Harvick won at Phoenix. Gordon finished second twice at Richmond this season, but Keselowski is a notch above all which is why he owns such low odds this week.

So who has the best shot at upsetting Keselowski?

Jeff Gordon (6-1): So what if he hasn't won at New Hampshire since his magical season of 1998? He's still the top contender to beat Keselowski. This guy is on a major rekindle tour and is savoring all the moments fans are giving him because of being the villain of sorts (an entirely different story) for the duration of his career. He's led a track-high 1,271 laps over his career and has a 9.8 average finish over his last 20 winless starts. Thanks to runner-up finishes at both Richmond races, Gordon is the non-Penske driver to key on.

Clint Bowyer (25-1): He could have never imagined his Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota would fail to win a race after their theatrics last season at Richmond. His engine has been tired and way behind all the top teams for most of the 2014 season, but we have seen some power from Toyota in the Joe Gibbs garages as well as MWR teammate Brian Vickers.

Two weeks ago at Richmond, Bowyer was trying to race himself into the Chase and failed, but he did finish third. In the first New Hampshire race, he finished sixth. This is his type of track.

He won his first career Cup race here and he's won two times overall. Richmond is his other signature track. So with a Toyota upgrade, Bowyer's natural skills on these tracks, he might be the best candidate at double-digit odds to win.

Read More Here........SuperBook odds to win

Kevin Harvick looking for second New Hampshire win

Kevin Harvick is 6/1 to win at New Hampshire Sunday
Kevin Harvick and the No. 4 Budweiser Designate a Driver Chevrolet SS team travel to New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS) this weekend to compete in Sunday’s Sylvania 300 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race.

Designate a Driver… Harvick’s No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS will feature a special “Designate a Driver” paint scheme this weekend at NHMS in support of Anheuser-Busch’s worldwide effort to promote the responsible enjoyment of the company’s beers with “Global Be(er) Responsible Day” on Friday, September 19. As part of the program, Anheuser-Busch employees and wholesalers across the United States will go out into the trade to spread Budweiser’s message in every bottle – “Designate a driver and enjoy the great times” – to adults. This year marks the fifth anniversary of Global Be(er) Responsible Day.

Meet Me in St. Louis… Harvick’s No. 4 Budweiser Designate a Driver Chevrolet SS show car will be on display at the Anheuser-Busch Tour Center in St. Louis from noon – 6 p.m. CT on Thursday, September 18.

Chassis Info…The No. 4 team will utilize chassis No. 858 in Sunday’s race. Harvick last raced this car in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May and earned a second-place finish. The team also utilized this car for a two-day test at NHMS earlier this month.

New Hampshire Stats… Harvick has 27 NSCS starts at NHMS. He has earned one win (2006), one pole award (2006), five top fives and 13 top-10 finishes, and has an average start of 13.9 and average finish of 14.3.

A Look Back… During last year’s race at NHMS, Harvick started eighth, battled handling issues throughout the race and finished 20th.

Loop Data… Since the inception of NASCAR’s Loop Data Statistics in 2006, Harvick has competed in 19 NSCS races at NHMS and owns several impressive marks heading into this weekend’s event, including: eighth in Average Running Position (12.782); eighth in Green-Flag Passes (970); ninth in Green-Flag Speed (124.716 mph); ninth in Laps in the Top 15 (65.2 percent/3,700 laps); and ninth in Laps Led (4.4 percent/252 laps).

Harvick on racing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and the Chase
What are your thoughts on racing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway? “New Hampshire is a track that I enjoy going to. It’s a track where you have to have a good handling car, you have to have track position and you have to have everything going right. If you get yourself stuck in the middle of the pack you’re not going to have a very good day unless you have a really good car.”

What is the key to running well at New Hampshire Motor Speedway?
“The hardest thing is just making your car turn in the middle of the corner and being able to have enough forward drive up off. It always seems like the New Hampshire race comes down to a track position strategy call on two tires or four tires toward the end of the race. Track position will play a big part, but getting your car to handle right will probably play an equal part.”

As well as you’ve run this year, does it seem like it’s been since Darlington since you won last? “No, it doesn’t. It seems like we’re right in the mix of things every week. That’s really what you want and what you’ve got to do. You can’t force winning. You go out and you try to put those days together. Winning in this sport is hard even on the days when you have the best car. I mean, we absolutely crushed them at Atlanta and didn’t win the race just by the way that the circumstances worked out at the end and wound up crashed and finished 19th. You look at the scorecard and you say, ‘Well they finished 19th at Atlanta,’ and then you look at the laps led column and you’re like, ‘Wow!’ But you take those things all in stride. And for me, Atlanta is the best example of the difference of how you race when you have nothing really to lose other than to gain three points and how you have to race now and take a fifth or six-place finish and letting off the gas pedal and not wrecking. That’s just the scenario that we’re in now and you have to balance that consistency with opportunities to win.”

How do you look at the new Chase format? 
“I think you could go through the whole format and not win a race and win the championship. I think there is a balance, I know for us, that we’ve tried to focus on, because it’s really not something that you want to flip the switch on and off as far as how you call a race and how you run a race, unless you get like we did at Atlanta and you know if you don’t make it to Turn 1 in front of the other cars and leading the race, you’re not going to have a chance to win. Now you have to take that fifth or six-place finish and move on and not wreck the car. I think as far as going for it and trying to make up two laps of fuel or something like that like we did at Loudon (in July), you can’t do those types of things unless you’re just in a desperate position where you have to win a race. I think once we came back from the break and went to Indianapolis, the fast cars are still there, it was just the consistency that we needed to work on in my opinion and in Rodney’s (Childers, crew chief) opinion. I think we’ve done a good job with that and been very consistent as we came back from the break and the cars are still fast. As an organization we made a change for the last 10 weeks on the pit crew. I feel like with the speed and all the things we have, that it’s just going to come down to who makes the least amount of mistakes as a group. You’ve got to have a little good luck to go along with that and hopefully we’ve used our bad luck up along through the year and we can have a good 10 weeks. I’m excited and confident. You just never know how these things are going to play out, but if it plays out right, I think we have just as good a shot as anybody.”

How is your approach going to change as we go through the rounds of the Chase?
“It’s definitely going to become harder to advance as you go into each round. I think in this first round, you just need to have three solid weeks in order to get to the next one. And that’s really what it’s all about – just getting yourself to the next round.”

Who is your favorite pick to win the Chase?
“I think as you look at the group of drivers, there are a lot of people who can put together 10 good weeks. There are a lot of good race teams and a lot of good drivers that are in there. In the end, it’s going to come down to who can capitalize on the days when their cars are able to win and win the race and who can muster something out of a day when their car’s not that good and have the good luck to go along with things. You have to have it all line up, because if you don’t, somebody else will. I believe there are eight or 10 cars that can really win the championship if they put 10 weeks together.”

- Elevation Group of Companies for Budweiser Racing

Is Clint Bowyer a major player this week at New Hampshire?

Clint Bowyer is 25/1 to win at New Hampshire, site of his first Cup win
CORNELIUS, N.C. — The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for this weekend’s 300-lap event. It’s a visit that couldn’t come at a better time for Clint Bowyer.

The Michael Waltrip Racing driver has multiple wins at the mile oval (September 2010 and September 2007). And in July he led 36 laps and had a shot at the win when he restarted third for a green-white-checkered finish. But a competitor ran out of gas in front of him coming to the green, shuffling him back to sixth place at the finish.

Bowyer knows his No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota is capable of winning. He’s done it before. He can do it again at New Hampshire.

“At any kind of short track you’ve got to roll the center of the corner, be able to get into the corner and pull the wheel. If you’re loose in you can’t go anywhere. But if you can get it to roll the center, the corners are so long, you’ve got be able to roll the center and in doing so you may get yourself too loose in, so there’s definitely a balancing act. The key for me is keeping that thing as free as possible. The corners there are not really that much different. Getting into 3 is a little bumpier and you can tend to overdrive it if you aren’t careful. It’s a fun track. We were a top-three car there earlier. I expect we will be again.”

Brian Pattie, Crew Chief No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota
“We had a shot at winning last time we were in New Hampshire. We started inside row and got stuck behind a guy who ran out of gas and got shuffled back. Clint typically runs really well there. Qualifying is obviously very important there and a good strategy.”

CHASSIS
Chassis No. 809 serves as the primary chassis for Bowyer at New Hampshire. This chassis raced at Kansas in May where Bowyer finished 23rd, Pocono in June where he finished 11th as well as Pocono in August where he finished 4th. Chassis No. 795 serves as the back-up chassis and has never been raced but has served as the back up at several races.

NEW HAMPSHIRE STATS
Two wins (September 2010 and April 2007)
Four top-five and seven top-10 finishes in 17 starts
Completed 5,064 of 5,075 laps (99.8%) and has led 516 laps
Average start 13.0 and average finish 14.5
One DNF (did not finish) – September 2011

RaceStartFinishLapsStatusLed
2006-193127307/308running23
2006-271824299/300running0
2007-172037293/300running0
2007-2711300/300running222
2008-171822284/284running0
2008-27512300/300running0
2009-171620273/273running0
2009-271710300/300running0
2010-1797301/301running0
2010-2721300/300running177
2011-191217301/301running3
2011-281126298/300out of fuel49
2012-1953301/301running1
2012-28124300/300running0
2013-192013302/302running0
2013-281617300/300running5
2014-1986305/305running36

DANCING WITH THE STARS
Michael Waltrip and his partner Emma Slater made it past the first round of the multi-award-winning seriesDancing with the Stars Tuesday night. Waltrip and Slater danced the Cha-Cha on Monday’s show. The pair earned a score of 25 from the judges. That, paired with votes from fans, was enough to advance the duo to the next round which airs Monday, Sept. 22 at 8:00 pm EST on ABC.

Fans can vote for Waltrip and Slater by calling a 1-800 number that will be displayed during the show, “liking”Dancing with the Stars Facebook page (www.facebook.com/dancingwiththestars) or going toabc.go.com/shows/dancing-with-the-stars. Voting begins Monday at 8:00pm EST and ends Tuesday 11:00am EST. One couple will be eliminated on a live results show, Tuesday, Sept. 23 at 8:00 pm ET on ABC.

You can follow the couple’s progress on their respective Twitter accounts www.twitter.com/mw55, www.twitter.com/emmaslaterdance as well as Instagram www.instagram.com/mwr55 and www.instagram.com/emmaslaterdance.

- Michael Waltrip Racing

New Hampshire Preview: can anyone stop Brad Keselowski?

Five win stickers on the car for Keselowski...he's a beast!
LAS VEGAS - Brad Keselowski is an amazing driver with some amazing equipment. How can anyone stop him?

His win Sunday at Chicago was his second straight on the season and gave him a series leading five overall. This is how he's going to start the 2014 Chase? It's like he's riding a tidal wave above everyone into the Chase. It's a much better entrance to the Chase than in 2012 when he won at Chicago and went on to win his first Cup title.

The win Sunday enhances his win at Richmond two weeks ago even more. Remember when he led 383 of the 400 laps at Richmond? It was one of the more dominant ass-kickings on a race track I've ever seen -- at least a top-10 contender. Now he heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where one of his five wins on the season came in July.

If you've been reading this column through the years, then you've probably heard over and over again about how I like to group New Hampshire, Richmond and Phoenix into one group because they're all flat and nearly the same distance. Sure, it's repetitive, but it's the most important part of handicapping the race, especially this late in the season when we have four races of data to go off of.

Here's the drill you want to go through this week. Print the results from Phoenix, New Hampshire and both Richmond races and put them side to side in order of date they ran. Look at who has gotten better on each run and look who has been the most consistent. The driver that has gotten progressively better is Keselowski, which is hard to do when no finish is worse than fourth. But wins in the last two on them, and pasting the field at Richmond, puts him at a distinct advanatge Sunday.

The Pesnke Racing team has won the past three on these types with teammate Joey Logano winning at Richmond Apr. 26. They didn't win at Phoenix -- Kevin Harvick did, but Keselowski was third and Logano was fourth. And of the four races we're comparing, least important in the equation is Phoenix because it was so long ago.

Now that we have figured out that Keselowski is easily the driver to beat, the problem is getting good value and we're not going to get it. The sports books have their results sheets laid out too and they know Penske and Keselowski are the team to beat by a wide margin. Because he's so good, it's going to take some enticing odds on the other contenders to stray away from just going all in with Keselowski.

The best candidate to beat Keselowski would be Jeff Gordon who has twice finished second to a Penske car this season at Richmond. He's a three-time winner at New Hampshire and has led the most laps there all-time.

If looking for drivers with a little more punch in the odds department, you might take a chance with Clint Bowyer who raced his tail off at Richmond to a third-place finish while trying to make the Chase. He's a two-time winner at New Hampshire, including his first career victory. He finished sixth in the first New Hampshire in July.

The best car doesn't always win, so I'll ride with the second best car with Gordon. As always check out the final practices on Saturday to finalize your wagers.

Read More Here....Top-5 Finish Prediction

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

New Hampshire Motor Speedway Track Facts: 2014 Sylvania 300

Matt Kenseth won at New Hampshire last fall during the Chase
New Hampshire Motor Speedway Data
Season Race #: 28 of 36 (09-21-14)
Track Size: 1.058-mile
Banking/Turn 1 & 2: 2 to 7 degrees
Banking/Turn 3 & 4: 2 to 7 degrees
Banking/Frontstretch: 1 degree
Banking/Backstretch: 1 degree
Frontstretch Length: 1,500 feet
Backstretch Length: 1,500 feet
Race Length: 300 laps / 317.4 miles
 
Top 10 Driver Rating at New Hampshire
Tony Stewart............................. 110.0
Jeff Gordon.............................. 107.7
Denny Hamlin............................ 103.6
Jimmie Johnson........................ 102.1
Kyle Larson................................ 99.1
Dale Earnhardt Jr........................ 97.3
Clint Bowyer............................... 95.9
Kyle Busch................................. 94.7
Brad Keselowski......................... 93.8
Kasey Kahne.............................. 92.6
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2014 races (19 total) among active drivers at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
 
Qualifying/Race Data
2013 Coors Light Pole winner:
Ryan Newman, Chevrolet
136.497 mph, 27.904 secs. 09-20-13
 
2013 race winner:
Matt Kenseth, Toyota
107.573 mph, (02:57:02), 09-22-13
 
Track qualifying record:
Kyle Busch, Toyota
138.130 mph, 27.574 secs. 07-13-14
 
Track race record:
Jeff Burton, Ford
117.134 mph, (02:42:35), 07-13-97
 
 
New Hampshire Motor Speedway:

History
·         Groundbreaking for New Hampshire International Speedway, as New Hampshire Motor Speedway was originally named, was Aug. 13, 1989.
·         The 1.058-mile oval is located on approximately 1,200 acres; the multi-use complex is the largest sports facility in New England.
·         The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was on July 11, 1993 – won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace.
·         Speedway Motorsports, Inc. agreed to purchase New Hampshire International Speedway from Bob and Gary Bahre on January 11, 2008 and then renamed the track New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Notebook
·         There have been 39 NASCAR Sprint Cup races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway; one per year from 1993 through 1996 and two per year since.
·         158 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway; 123 in more than one.
·         Two drivers have competed in all 39 races at New Hampshire: Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon.
·         Mark Martin won the inaugural Coors Light pole at New Hampshire in 1993 with a speed of 126.871 mph. 
·         18 drivers have Coors Light poles at New Hampshire, led by Ryan Newman with seven.
·         Five drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at New Hampshire: Ken Schrader (1997 sweep); Jeff Gordon (1998-1999); Rusty Wallace (1999-2000); Ryan Newman (twice – 2003-2004 and 2011 sweep); Juan Pablo Montoya (2009-2010).
·         Youngest New Hampshire Coors Light pole winner: Brian Vickers (07/17/2005 – 21 years, 8 months, 23 days).
·         Oldest New Hampshire Coors Light pole winner: Bill Elliott (07/21/2002 – 46 years, 9 months, 13 days).
·         24 different drivers have won at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, led by Jeff Burton with four.
·         Two drivers have posted consecutive wins at New Hampshire Motor Speedway: Jimmie Johnson (2003 sweep) and Kurt Busch (2004 sweep). 
·         Youngest New Hampshire winner: Joey Logano (06/28/2009 – 19 years, 1 month, 4 days).
·         Oldest New Hampshire winner: Mark Martin (09/20/2009 – 50 years, 8 months, 11 days).
·         Hendrick Motorsports leads the series in wins at New Hampshire in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with nine; followed by Roush Fenway Racing with seven.
·         Five different manufacturers have won at New Hampshire; led by Chevrolet with 18 victories; followed by Fordwith 12 and Toyota with four.
·         Jeff Burton is the only driver to win the July race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway three consecutive years in a row (1997, ’98 and ’99)
·         Five of the 39 (12.8%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at New Hampshire have been won from the Coors Light pole; the most recent was Ryan Newman in 2011.
·         The Coors Light pole is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (five) than any other starting position at New Hampshire.   
·         Eight of the 39 (20.5%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at New Hampshire have been won from the front row: eight from the pole and seven from second-place.
·         21 of the 39 (53.8%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at New Hampshire have been won from a top-10 starting position.
·         Nine of the 39 (23.0%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at New Hampshire have been won from a starting position outside the top 20.
·         The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at New Hampshire was 38th, by Jeff Burton in 1999.  
·         Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart are tied for the series lead in runner-up finishes at New Hampshire with five each. 
·         Jeff Gordon leads the series in top-five finishes at New Hampshire with 16; followed by Tony Stewart with 14.   
·         Jeff Gordon leads the series in top-10 finishes at New Hampshire with 22; followed by Tony Stewart with 18.
·         Ryan Newman leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at New Hampshire with an 8.680.
·         Denny Hamlin leads NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at New Hampshire with an 8.941.
·         All 15 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winners at New Hampshire Motor Speedway participated in at least one or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Ryan Newman and Joey Logano won at New Hampshire in their second appearance.     
·         Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at New Hampshire without visiting Victory Lane at 30.
·         Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway was the July 1, 2007 race won by Denny Hamlin over Jeff Gordon with a MOV of 0.068 second.
·         17 of the 31 NSCS races scored by electronic scoring at New Hampshire Motor Speedway have had a Margin of Victory less than a second.
·         Three of the 39 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races have resulted with a green-white-checkered finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Scheduled No. of Laps/Actual No. of Laps): 2006 (300/308), 2013 (301/302) and 2014 (301/302).
·         Four of the 38 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway have been shortened due to weather conditions; the most recent was June 28, 2009 – the race was called on Lap 273, 28 circuits shy of the 301 scheduled laps.   
·         Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway four times: 2001, 2004, 2008 and 2009.   
·         Two active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have made their first career start at New Hampshire Motor Speedway: Joe Nemechek (7/11/93), and Joey Logano (9/14/08).
·         Brad Keselowski (9/19/10) is the only active driver to post his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light pole at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.      
·         Four active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted their first career win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway: Joe Nemechek (9/19/99), Ryan Newman (9/15/02), Clint Bowyer (9/16/07) and Joey Logano(6/28/09).
·         Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at New Hampshire with 1,371 laps led in 39 starts. 
·         Danica Patrick is the only female driver that has competed in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Driver
Starting Position
Finishing Position
Date
Danica Patrick
29
22
7/13/2014
Danica Patrick
21
27
9/22/2013
Danica Patrick
32
37
7/14/2013
 
NASCAR in New Hampshire
·         There have been 39 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in New Hampshire, all at NHMS.
Track Name
City
NSCS
NNS
NCWTS
New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Loudon
39
28
16
·         15 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as New Hampshire; Jamie Aube is the only one of the 15 to record a victory in NASCAR national series competition. Aube won July 12, 1987 at Oxford Plains Speedway in Oxford, ME; it was his only start that season.