Friday, September 30, 2011

Mark Martin Fastest in Final Dover Practice

Mark Martin, with a lap speed of 155.072 mph, was the quickest during the final AAA 400 practice session at Dover International Speedway.

Second quickest with a lap speed of 154.017 mph, was Martin’s fellow Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jeff Gordon, and was followed by David Stremme and Juan Pablo Montoya with the identical speed (153.840). Travis Kvapil (153.348) was the fifth quickest.

Rounding out the top-ten quickest during “Happy Hour” were Michael McDowell (153.146), David Reutimann (153.100), Reed Sorenson (152.996) , Paul Menard (152.944) and AJ Allmendinger (152.899).

The teams will return to the track Saturday afternoon for their 1:40 PM (EDT) scheduled qualifying session to determine the starting lineup for Sunday’s AAA 400 (approximate 2:20 PM start).

Practice Times

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dover AAA 400 Preview

By Micah Roberts
VegasInsider.com

Tony Stewart is now the favorite to win Chase in Las Vegas (Getty)
After two races into NASCAR’s Chase for the Championship, we have a new leader and new Las Vegas odds-on favorite. After not winning for the first 26 races of the season, Tony Stewart’s championship alarm clock has awoken the former champ and he’s won the first two events of the Chase. Stewart now has a 7-point lead over Kevin Harvick heading into this week’s event at Dover, Delaware.

The Las Vegas Hilton Super Book opened Stewart at 20-to-1 odds before the Chase started, with not many takers. But following his Chicago win, he was dropped to 9-to-2. The combination of a poor finish by five-time, reigning champ Jimmie Johnson not doing well at New Hampshire and Stewart winning has dropped him all the way to 5-to-2.

Jimmie J in the four-eight, or ‘five-time’ as he’s been called, is now 29-points behind the leader, but is still respected with odds of 6-to-1. That’s only 29 positions to make up with eight races to go, but based on this season where he’s only had one win, it could turn out to be an eternity. Could we be witnessing the fall of a dynasty in the same way we saw Roger Federer and Tiger Woods take a back seat in their sports?

It’s looking closer to being the end than it is that his team will miraculously become better than the first 28 races of the season.

Close behind Stewart is Kevin Harvick (-7 points, 7/2), Brad Keselowski (-11, 7/1) and Carl Edwards (-14, 4/1). My choice to win the Chase, Jeff Gordon, is currently 23 points behind with odds of 6-to-1, but has a lot more upside down the stretch than Johnson just because he’s been able to show he can dominate a race.

Denny Hamlin wasn’t thought of as a driver who could win the Chase, but was 15-to-1 when it started. After two awful performances, he’s 66-points behind the leader and can be had for 200-to-1 if having any reason to believe things will get better.

If there ever was a track on the schedule that could get Johnson going in the right direction again, it would be Dover. Five-time is a six-time winner on the track, including taking this race last season. He finished ninth in the first Dover race held in May, but led 207 of the 400 laps, most of which came in the early portion of the race.

Johnson using his Chicago/Kentucky chassis (Getty) 
“New Hampshire obviously wasn’t the finish we were looking for especially with how good we were throughout the weekend, " Johnson said. "I’m really looking forward to this weekend though. Dover has always been a good place for the 48 team and I really enjoy racing there. I’m not really sure why, but it has always just kind of suited my driving style.”

Matt Kenseth eventually won the first Dover race by opting to go with two tires in the final pit stop while perhaps the best car at the time, driven by Carl Edwards, took four tires.

That decision and same tire compound could prove to be a blessing for Edwards this time around as Kenseth paved the way for success. Edwards has a great history at Dover already with a 2007 win and not finishing worse than 11th in his last 10 starts there. The lesson learned the hard way could prove to be a good one for the No. 99 team this week.

Kenseth’s win was the second of his career at Dover. Since his first win in 2006, Kenseth has finished in the top-five in eight of 11 starts. He had a gritty sixth-place finish last week at New Hampshire in a car that he absolutely hated through practice and the race, which could lead to more success in races to come making him a factor in the Chase. He’s currently 26-points behind Stewart and has several of his best tracks coming up, beginning with Dover.

“This weekend, we’re bringing the same chassis we ran and won with at Dover back in May," said Kenseth's crew chief Jimmy Fennig. "Dover is Matt’s favorite track and that gives us a lot of motivation to have another solid run there this weekend. We were able to leave New Hampshire with a sixth-place finish at a track that has been a challenge for us in the past, so I’m looking forward to this weekend in order to help us make up some position in the point standings.”

Does Bristol translate over Dover, maybe a little bit? (Getty)
Although Dover is kind of in it’s own world with not a lot of comparisons because of the steep banking and one-mile concrete layout, Bristol is as close as it comes, especially since Bristol‘s repaving job in 2007 which gave it multiple grooves.

If we account for what happened in late August at Bristol, we have to look at Brad Keselowski who finished strong with a win in that race. Gordon led the most laps with Martin Truex Jr., Johnson and Kenseth all running well enough to win.

Gordon saw a rebound at Bristol the second time around and his crew chief, Alan Gustufson, thinks they can rebound at Dover this week the same way.

“I certainly hope so,” said the No. 24 crew chief. “We learned a lot from our first trip to our second at Bristol this year, and I’m hoping the success on that concrete track translates over to Dover this weekend.”

So how about Stewart’s chances of winning three straight races?

It looked as though Dover would be a track that he would dominate on over his career as he swept the 2000 season, but he hasn’t won there since, a span of 21 races. His runner-up finish in the spring of 2009 was his only top-five on the track since 2004. It would seem a long-shot for him to complete the tri-fecta this week, but he’s already beaten the odds by winning the first two, so you never know.

Top 5 Finish prediction:
1) #99 Carl Edwards (8/1)
2) #24 Jeff Gordon (7/1)
3) #17 Matt Kenseth (10/1)
4) #2 Brad Keselowski (12/1)
5) #48 Jimmie Johnson (7/1)

Driver Chassis Selections for Dover AAA 400

Note: Not all teams list their chassis in PR releases

Keselowski is using 9th-place Brickyard car (Getty)
#1-Jamie McMurray: Crew Chief Kevin "Bono" Manion and the No.1 McDonald's team will bring chassis #1104 to Dover this weekend. This chassis has already been used four times this season, including both races at Michigan International Speedway, both events (The All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600) at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May.

#2-Brad Keselowski: and the #2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger team will race chassis PRS-748 during Sunday's AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway. Keselowski last raced this chassis to a ninth-place finish in the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July.

#5-Mark Martin: crew chief Lance McGrew has chosen Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 5-672 for Sunday's race at Dover. This is the same chassis that Martin has driven four times this season to an average 12th-place finish. Notably, Martin piloted the car twice at Michigan International Speedway, finishing ninth in June and fourth in August.

#6-David Ragan: Primary: RK-744 last ran Bristol and finished 20th. Backup chassis RK-711 last ran Darlington and finished 21st.

#9-Marcos Ambrose: The #9 RPM team has prepared chassis No. 754 for the 400-mile event at Dover International Speedway. This Stanley Ford Fusion has been run previously this season at Martinsville Speedway the Dover spring race and both Pocono events. Australian Word of the Week: Tea = Supper.

#14-Tony Stewart: Chassis No. 14-564 debuted at Texas in November 2009, where it qualified fourth and finishing sixth. The 2009 season finale at Homestead marked the car's second career start. There, it qualified fifth and led twice for 43 laps before two separate on-track incidents with Juan Pablo Montoya relegated it to a 22nd-place finish. It saw action during the offseason when it was used for a Goodyear tire test at Texas Jan. 19-20. It returned to competition in February at Auto Club Speedway, where it started 16th and finished ninth. It returned to Texas in April where it qualified on the pole and led five times for 74 laps before a late-race accident relegated it to an undeserved 32nd-place finish. It was repaired and fitted with a new body for the series' June stop at Michigan, where it qualified 17th and finished a solid fifth. It sat idle until it returned to Michigan in August, qualifying fourth and leading three times for 36 laps before finishing sixth. The October race at Auto Club marked its seventh career start and second at Fontana, and there it delivered Stewart's 39th career Sprint Cup win and his first at Fontana. The same car returned to action in November at Texas, where it qualified 11th and finished 11th. With a new body honed in the wind tunnel, Chassis No. 14-564 got its first start of 2011 and the ninth of its career at Fontana where it qualifying fifth and leading four times for 11 laps. In the waning laps, however, it dropped from third to 13th after a late-race restart. Its next start came in May at Charlotte in the All-Star Race, where it started sixth and finished fourth. It action in June at Michigan, where it qualified sixth and finishing seventh. Chassis No. 14-564 returned to Michigan in August rallying to ninth after starting 18th. Now the car makes its 13th career start, but first on a track only a mile in length when it rolls off for the AAA 400 this weekend at Dover.

Kenseth is using his winning car from May's Dover race
#17-Matt Kenseth: will run primary chassis RK-763 which last run at Pocono, this chassis won the Dover spring race. This weekend, Kenseth will pilot the #17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion.

#18-Kyle Busch: Chassis No. 308 will make its fourth-ever start in Sunday's AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway. No. 308 made its debut in June at Kansas Speedway, where Busch started third and finished 12th. In its most recent start, Busch drove No. 308 to victory lane after starting first in July at the Inaugural Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway. Most recently, this chassis was brought three races ago to Richmond International Raceway, where Busch started 13th and finished a solid sixth.

#22-Kurt Busch and his Steve Addington-led Penske Racing "Double-Deuce" team will be racing their "PRS-758" Shell-Pennzoil Dodge this weekend at Dover. This chassis has been raced only once before; in the August 7 race at Pocono. In that race, Busch qualified fifth and led four times for a total of 38 laps en route to a third-place finish. The race will be remembered most, perhaps, for the exciting last-lap battle for third between Busch and defending series champion Jimmie Johnson. The "PRS-746" (last raced in May's Sprint "All Star" Race at Charlotte) will serve as the backup Dodge Charger this weekend at Dover.

#27-Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 351 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This #27 Menards/Pittsburh Paints Chevy was a brand new addition to the RCR fleet for the 2011 season and was last seen in competition at Kansas Speedway (June) where he started ninth and finished 19th. Menard also raced this Chevrolet at Texas Motor Speedway in April where he brought home a fifth-place result after starting from the 19th position.

#29-Kevin Harvick: will race chassis No. 353 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Prior to this weekend the team utilized this #29 Chevy twice in 2011 to score a win in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May and a seventh-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway in early September.

#31-Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 359 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Built new for 2011, this is the same Caterpillar Chevy Burton qualified fifth and drove to a 21st-place finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May and qualified 22nd and drove to a 19th-place effort at Kentucky Speedway in July.

#33-Clint Bowyer: will pilot chassis No. 350 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable this weekend at "The Monster Mile." This Chevy, built new in 2011, has seen action three times this season, posting top-15 efforts at Texas Motor Speedway (started-third, finished-second), at the Coca-Cola 600 in May (started-10th, finished-15th) and Michigan International Speedway in June (started-27th, finished-eighth).

#42-Juan Pablo Montoya: crew chief Jim Pohlman and the #42 Target team has selected chassis #1003 for the AAA 400 at Dover. This will be the fourth race of 2011 for this chassis, after it was used in both races at Bristol and in the Spring race at Dover. This car also ran five times last year (Charlotte-May, Chicago-July, Atlanta-September, Fontana-October and Texas-November).

#43-A.J. Allmendinger: The #43 RPM team has prepared chassis No.752 for this weekend's event at Dover International Speedway. This Best Buy Ford has been run previously this season at Texas, Charlotte, Indianapolis and Atlanta.

#48-Jimmie Johnson: will drive chassis No. 669 in Sunday's event. He finished second in that car at Michigan International Speedway in August. Johnson finished second in backup chassis No. 650 at Atlanta Motor Speedway in September.

#88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Crew chief Steve Letarte and the #88 team will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-657 this weekend at Dover. Earnhardt most recently raced this chassis to a 16th-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway in August. Earnhardt also raced this chassis to a second-place finish at Kansas Speedway in June. The car also saw action at Darlington Raceway and Kentucky Speedway.


#99-Carl Edwards: The #99 team will be unloading chassis RK-788 this weekend. This car last raced at Chicago where Edwards finished fourth.

- compiled by Jayski.com

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Harvick Using Winning Charlotte Chassis This Week at Dover

Harvick's car this week took the checkers at Charlotte in May (Getty)
Kevin Harvick
No. 29 Rheem “Chasing the Cure” Chevrolet Impala


This Week’s Rheem “Chasing the Cure” Chevrolet at Dover International Speedway … Kevin Harvick will race chassis No. 353 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Prior to this weekend the team utilized this No. 29 Chevrolet twice in 2011 to score a win in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May and a seventh-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway in early September.

Chasing the Cure with Rheem … While all eyes may be on the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, with the debut of the No. 29 Rheem “Chasing the Cure” Chevrolet, Rheem and RCR hope to inspire the racing community to join in “Chasing the Cure”, the company’s month-long program created to help raise national awareness of the importance of regular check-ups and early diagnosis in the fight against breast cancer. Rheem and RCR will mark the start of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month with a pink and black paint scheme on the No. 29 Rheem Chasing the Cure Chevrolet for Sunday’s race.

Pretty in Pink … DeLana Harvick, wife of the driver of the No. 29 Chevrolet, will wear a specially designed pink and black Rheem firesuit for the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway. She will also present a duplicate version of her firesuit autographed by the entire No. 29 team to the Young Survival Coalition prior to the start of Sunday’s race.

Chase Update … Two races into the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Harvick is ranked second in the driver point standings and sits just seven markers back from the top spot. He has earned one top-five and has an average finish of seventh.

Harvick at Dover … In 21 starts at Dover International Speedway, Harvick has accumulated two top-five and eight top-10 finishes. His average starting position is 21.190 and he holds a 16.952 average finish at the track. Harvick has led 134 laps at Dover and has completed 98.3 percent (8,264 of 8,404) of the total laps run in NSCS competition at the track since 2001.

Last Time Around … In last year’s fall race at Dover, Harvick started 33rd and finished 15th. In May, he started and finished in the 10th position.

In the Loop … With 28 races complete, Harvick holds several impressive Loop Data statistics leading into Sunday’s race at Dover International speedway, including: second in fastest speed in traffic; third in closers (2.1 average spots gained in the last 10 percent of each race); fourth in percentage of laps run on the lead lap (90.31 percent/7,264 of 8,043 laps); seventh in driver rating (92.4); seventh in drivers late in a run; eighth in average running position (13.505); eighth in green-flag speed; eighth in laps in the top 15 (64.7 percent/5,200 laps); 10th in laps led (4.1 percent/333 laps); 10th in drivers fastest early in a run; and 10th in fastest drivers on restarts.

KEVIN HARVICK QUOTES:


What are some of the challenges for your team in going to Dover International Speedway this weekend?
“We’ve had a good car there the last several times and haven’t necessarily got the finishes that we probably have deserved with where we ran all day, but it’s been a decent race track for us. It’s a fast race track. You’ve got to keep up with the race track as the groove moves around and the rubber builds up on the track. The biggest challenge is being able to get the car up off of the corner under power, wide open throughout the whole run.”

What does it take to be successful at Dover International Speedway?
“We’ll have to have our Rheem “Chasing the Cure” Chevrolet handling good because it’s so fast and there are so many things happening so fast at Dover that the driver has to be comfortable in the car. It seems like at Dover they always have one of those runs where you have green-flag pit stops and halfway through that run the caution comes out, so you have to be a little bit lucky to not end up on the wrong side of that there.”


How do you feel going into this weekend’s race at Dover International Speedway?
“We should be fine in Dover. I felt like we’ve run well there the last few times so I don’t really have any specific concerns. I think as you go to every race track there is always concern on whether you’re going to run good or bad and you never really know until you get there and see what the tire is and see exactly what the weekend brings with weather and all the different things that come with putting a weekend together. We can run really well at any race track. Along with anybody in the garage we have that opportunity to run bad, too. You just have to make the best out of whatever the weekend gives you.”

- Richard Childress Racing, Press Release

Concrete Carl Looking to Improve 7.6 Average Finish at Dover

Edwards is listed at 4-to-1 to win the Chase in Las Vegas sports books
Carl Edwards
Team: No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion
Crew Chief: Bob Osborne
Chassis: RK-788 – This car last ran Chicago where it finished fourth

Carl Edwards on racing at Dover International Speedway:
“I’ve loved Dover ever since the first time I went there in the trucks with Jack. It’s a fun race track. It’s got a high sensation of speed, but those concrete tracks really boil down to how good your car is and how precise you can get that setup. I feel like Bob and I have really good communication and we’re able to really dial the car in and then the track doesn’t change much, so we can really work towards that goal all weekend and march closer and closer to that perfect setup. There is less firing from the hip and more marching through the setup and changes. I really like that style and that race track is just a lot of fun.”

Crew Chief Bob Osborne on racing at Dover International Speedway:
“Although we’ve got two one-mile tracks in a row, they couldn’t be more different. I’m looking forward to racing at Dove this weekend since it’s a much better track for us than New Hampshire. We typically run much better on the banked tracks than on the flat ones. We’ve got a car for Dover that I feel will be extremely competitive. Dover is a difficult race track to drive and Carl really excels with cars that don’t necessarily handle well an entire race. It has a lot to do with getting the most out of what you have for a race car and he does that extremely well.”

Fast Facts
* Carl Edwards is currently fourth in the Sprint Cup points, 14 points behind of Tony Stewart. To date he has one win, 13 top fives, 19 top 10s and two poles this season.
* FOR THE RECORD…In 14 starts at the one-mile track, Edwards has one win, six top-five and 10 top-10 finishes. Edwards scored his only Cup win there in Sept. ’07. He has an average start of 15.5 and an average finish of 7.6.
* LAPS…Edwards has led 416 laps at Dover and has completed 99.9 percent of his laps there (5599 of 5604 laps).
* ON THE TRACK… The No. 99 team will be unloading chassis RK-788 this weekend. This car last raced at Chicago where Edwards finished fourth.
* IN THE LOOP… According to NASCAR’s Loop Statistics compiled over the last 14 races at Dover, Edwards has turned 404 of the track’s fastest laps which is third highest, spent 3,897 laps (74.9%) in the top 15 (fifth highest) and led a total of 416 laps (fifth highest). Edwards’ driver rating (104.9) is fourth best among active drivers.
* REWIND, DOVER, September 2010… Edwards moved up to fifth place with 15 laps to go and was chasing down Kurt Busch for fourth, but ran out of time to catch him. He finished the race in fifth place for his seventh top-five and 15th top-10 finish of the season.

- Roush Fenway Racing, Press Release

Matt Kenseth Using Same Winning Dover Chassis This Week

Kenseth looking for Dover sweep (Getty)
Matt Kenseth
Team: No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion
Crew Chief: Jimmy Fennig
Chassis: Primary: RK-763 (Last run at Pocono, this chassis won the Dover spring race)

Kenseth on racing at Dover International Speedway:
“Dover has been a good place for us in the past and it’s my favorite race track; I love going racing there. I’m looking forward to going there and hopefully we can put in a good effort and have a fast car to get another good result and keep rolling in the Chase. We’ll just do the best job we can every week, work as hard as we can on our cars and pit stops and hope that our results are good enough each and every Sunday.”

Crew chief Jimmy Fennig on racing at Dover International Speedway:
“This weekend, we’re bringing the same chassis we ran and won with at Dover back in May. Dover is Matt’s favorite track and that gives us a lot of motivation to have another solid run there this weekend. We were able to leave New Hampshire with a sixth-place finish at a track that has been a challenge for us in the past, so I’m looking forward to this weekend in order to help us make up some position in the point standings.”

FAST FACTS:
• Kenseth made his first career Sprint Cup start at Dover on Sept. 20, 1998, filling in for Bill Elliott

• Kenseth has an average starting position of 16.7 and an average finishing position of 12.4 at Dover

• Kenseth has achieved two poles, two wins, 11 top-five’s and 16 top-10’s at Dover in the Cup series

• Two of Kenseth’s six career Sprint Cup poles have come at Dover (spring of ‘02 and fall of ‘03)

• Kenseth has completed 9,724 of 10,004 (97.2 percent) laps at Dover and led for a total of 741 laps

• This weekend at Dover, Kenseth will pilot the No. 17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion

• Entering the weekend at Dover, Kenseth is currently seventh in the NSCS driver point standings

- Roush Fenway Racing, Press Release

Gordon Hoping for Concrete Improvement at Dover Like Bristol

Jeff Gordon has won at Dover four times, but none since 2001 (Getty)
DOVER, Del. (September 27, 2011) – It has been four months since Jeff Gordon finished 17th at Dover International Speedway, but the No. 24 Drive To End Hunger team feels they have made monster improvements on concrete tracks since that day in May.

There are only two concrete tracks on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule: Dover and Bristol Motor Speedway. Earlier this year in Bristol, Tenn., Gordon started seventh but led no laps en route to a 14th-place finish on the 0.533-mile track. That event was in March, and Gordon and company followed that up with their 17th-place finish on the one-mile track in Delaware two months later.

But the No. 24 team returned to Bristol in August with a vengeance, and Gordon led 206 laps in that 500-lap event before finishing third. Can the Alan Gustafson-led crew rebound similarly in Dover?

“I certainly hope so,” said the No. 24 crew chief. “We learned a lot from our first trip to our second at Bristol this year, and I’m hoping the success on that concrete track translates over to Dover this weekend.”

In 37 starts at “The Monster Mile,” Gordon has four wins, four poles, 14 top-fives and 21 top-10’s. He has led 2,231 laps here, which ranks first among active drivers. But Gordon believes padding those statistics begins on Saturday.

“Qualifying well on Saturday will be important,” said the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, who is fifth in the point standings and 23 out of the lead. “This is a real fast track, so being in ‘clean’ air makes your life that much easier during the race onSunday.”

Another obstacle facing the drivers and teams will be the rubber-buildup on the race track.

“The rubber on the track will be a challenge, as usual,” said Gordon. “But this track is wide and the groove will usually widen out – so much so you can probably even run near the wall.

“But if there’s significant rubber-buildup, it can be challenging on the restarts and when trying to pass another car.”

One way to avoid that? Be the leader, like Gordon was for much of the race in Bristol last month.

- Performance PR Plus, Press Release

Bristol Success Could Translate Well to Dover for Keselowski

Brad Keselowski is down to 7-to-1 to win Chase in Las Vegas (Getty)
Brad Keselowski
No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger
AAA 400
Dover International Speedway
October 2, 2011

No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger News and Notes
* · This Week’s Charger… The No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger team will race chassis PRS-748 during Sunday’s AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway (DIS). Keselowski last raced this chassis to a ninth-place finish in the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July.
* · No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge in 2011… After 29 points-paying events, Keselowski and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger team are ranked third in the 2011 Chase for the Championship standings. Keselowski is just 11 points behind leader Tony Stewart following a second-place finish in the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last Sunday.
* · Keselowski Hot Streak Stats… Keselowski has earned six top-six finishes over the last eight races. Keselowski has an average finish of 5.1 over that stretch, which ranks as the best in the Cup Series.
* · Driver Turned Crew Chief… No. 22 Ruby Tuesday Dodge Charger crew chief Paul Wolfe made 16 starts in the Nationwide Series from 2003-2005. Two of those starts came at Dover in 2003 and 2005, where he finished 16th in each event. In addition, Wolfe competed in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East from 2000-2004 where he made three starts at the “Monster Mile,” capturing one pole award, one outside pole position and two second-place finishes (2002, 2004).
* · Man Up At The Monster… The featured tag line on the bumper of the “Blue Deuce” this weekend at Dover will be “Man Up At The Monster.” This is a nod to the nickname “The Monster Mile,” given to Dover International Speedway over the years by the drivers that have ranked it one of the toughest ovals on the circuit.
* · Have a Beer with Brad… Keselowski will make an appearance at Grotto Pizza located at 102 Silicato Way in Milford, Del., beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET on Friday, September 30.
* · The Rest is History… Penske Racing made its first start at Dover International Speedway in the 1972 Delaware 500 with Dave Marcis driving the No. 16 entry. Over the next four decades, Penske Racing has enjoyed its share of success on the tough one-mile oval. In 71 starts, the organization has recorded six wins, nine poles and 21 top-five finishes at Dover. Penske Racing drivers have led 1,584 laps at the track.

Brad Keselowski on a lap around Dover International Speedway
“Dover is a place where I’ve had success and it’s a great track to race on. A lap around Dover is pretty spectacular. That roller coaster feeling you get climbing and falling off the corners is amazing. I feel pretty confident going back there and I’d like to think that Dover is one of my better tracks. (Crew chief) Paul (Wolfe) does a great job in making in-race adjustments and that is very important at Dover because the track changes drastically as rubber gets laid down. There are tracks that are temperamental due to the weather, but at Dover it’s the track rubber that can have you scratching your head.”

Brad Keselowski on his third-place standing in the Chase for the Championship
“We haven’t had the fastest cars to start the Chase, but because of hard work and great strategy we’ve been able to grab a pair of top-five finishes in the first two races. That is exactly what you have to do when you don’t have a car that is quite capable of winning the race. I really feel that the upcoming races, especially the intermediate tracks, will be where we can make up a lot of ground on Tony (Stewart). We’re only two races into the Chase. It’s definitely too early to get excited about where we are in the standings. We just need to continue to focus on each race, trying to get the best finish we can, and we’ll be in good shape at the end of the year.”

Crew chief Paul Wolfe on Dover International Speedway
“What makes Dover so difficult is the fact that it has so much load – you’re asking the car to do a lot of different things. Then, you combine the way that the track’s concrete rubbers-in and it really makes your front tires slick. It’s always a challenge to find front grip and what you end up doing is taking away rear grip. It’s very hard on the equipment and the driver, so you have to do a good job of taking care of both.”

- Penske Racing PR

Johnson Bringing Strong Michigan/Kentucky Car to Dover

Six-time Dover winner Jimmie Johnson is bring a great car this week (Getty)
Dover International Speedway RACE NOTES:
• Johnson has made 19 Sprint Cup Series starts at Dover International Speedway, where he has six wins, eight top-five and 13 top-10 finishes.
• Johnson has completed 97.6% (7419 of 7604) of competition laps at the one-mile track and has led 1829.
• He has an average start and finish of 10.3 and 9.6.

Chassis
Johnson will drive chassis No. 669 in Sunday’s event. He finished second in that car at Michigan in August and third at Kentucky in July.
• Johnson finished second in backup chassis No. 650 at Atlanta Motor Speedway in September.



JIMMIE JOHNSON QUOTE
WHAT’S YOUR OUTLOOK GOING INTO DOVER?
“New Hampshire obviously wasn’t the finish we were looking for especially with how good we were throughout the weekend. I’m really looking forward to this weekend though. Dover has always been a good place for the 48 team and I really enjoy racing there. I’m not really sure why, but it has always just kind of suited my driving style.”

SPRINT CUP SERIES CAREER NOTES
Career Wins
• Johnson has 54 wins in his Sprint Cup Series career, his most recent coming at Talladega Superspeedway on April 17, 2011.
• The El Cajon, Calif.-native is currently tied with Lee Petty for ninth on NASCAR’s all-time wins list, one victory behind Rusty Wallace.
• He is second in total wins among active drivers, behind Jeff Gordon (85).
• Johnson needed only 296 starts to hit the 50 mark. Only three drivers have reached 50 victories quicker – Gordon (232), Darrell Waltrip (278) and David Pearson (293).
• Johnson has won at least three Cup races a season since he posted his first victory in 2002. He is the only driver in the modern era to win at least three races in each of his first eight full-time seasons.
• Johnson has won Sprint Cup Series races at all but five (Michigan, Chicago, Watkins Glen, Homestead, Kentucky) of the 23 tracks on which the series competes.
• Johnson’s 10 wins in 2007 was the highest number recorded in a single season since Jeff Gordon posted 13 victories in 1998.
• The four-consecutive wins scored by the No. 48 team in the 2007 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup ties a modern-era NASCAR record.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Las Vegas Hilton Super Book Odds to Win Dover AAA 400

Johnson and Edwards listed as two of the Favorites at Dover (Getty)
AAA 400
DOVER INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 2, 2011

CARL EDWARDS 7
JIMMIE JOHNSON 6
KYLE BUSCH 6
JEFF GORDON 8
MATT KENSETH 10
KEVIN HARVICK 15
DENNY HAMLIN 20
KURT BUSCH 12
TONY STEWART 8
DALE EARNHARDT JR 30
GREG BIFFLE 15
KASEY KAHNE 30
CLINT BOWYER 30
RYAN NEWMAN 30
BRAD KESELOWSKI 15
JOEY LOGANO 40
MARTIN TRUEX JR 30
DAVID RAGAN 50
JUAN MONTOYA 50
MARK MARTIN 30
JEFF BURTON 30
JAMIE McMURRAY 50
BRIAN VICKERS 50
DAVID REUTIMANN 60
PAUL MENARD 60
AJ ALLMENDINGER 30
MARCOS AMBROSE 100
REGAN SMITH 200
BOBBY LABONTE 1000
FIELD 300

Dover AAA 400 Odds & Ends

At Dover International Speedway:
History
·         The official opening of Dover International Speedway, then called Dover Downs International Speedway, was in 1969.
·         The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was held on July 6, 1969.
·         The first two races at Dover were 300 miles. The race length was changed to 500 miles in 1971.
·         The track surface was changed to concrete in 1995.
·         The race length was changed to 400 miles beginning with the second race in 1997.
·         The track name was changed to Dover International Speedway in 2002.
 
Notebook
·         There have been 83 NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Dover International Speedway since the track opened in 1969.
·         There was one race in 1969 and 1970. There has been two-a-year since 1971.
·         Richard Petty won the track’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup race.
·         There have been 35 different pole winners, led by David Pearson (six).
·         David Pearson won the first pole in July 1969.
·         Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon and Ryan Newman lead all active drivers, each with four poles.
·         32 different drivers have posted victories led by Bobby Allison and Richard Petty, each with seven.
·         Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers, with six victories.
·         Hendrick Motorsports has a series-high 12 wins.
·         50 races at Dover have been won from a top-five starting position; 18 races have been won from a starting position outside the top 10.
·         13 drivers have won from the pole. The last to do so was Jimmie Johnson, in last season’s September race.
·         The furthest back in the field a race winner started was 37th, by Kyle Petty in 1995.
·         Several active drivers had their first start at Dover, including three past champions: Kurt Busch (18th in 2000), Matt Kenseth (sixth in 1998) and Bobby Labonte (34th in 1991).
·         In addition, Matt Kenseth (2002) and Michael Waltrip (1991) earned their first pole at Dover. Martin Truex Jr. won his first race there (2007).
 
NASCAR in Delaware
·            There have been 83 NASCAR Sprint Cup races in Delaware, all at Dover International Speedway.
·            Eight drivers in NASCAR’s three national series (all-time) have their home state recorded as Delaware, though none have posted victories.
 
Dover International Speedway Data
Race #: 29 of 36 (10-02-11)
Track Size: 1 mile
·     Banking/Corners: 24 degrees
·     Banking/Straights: 9 degrees
·     Frontstretch: 1,076 feet
·     Backstretch: 1,076 feet

Driver Rating at Dover Jimmie Johnson         117.4
Matt Kenseth              110.0
Greg Biffle                  106.9
Carl Edwards             104.9
Kyle Busch                 102.0
Mark Martin                   97.8
Kurt Busch                   95.0
Ryan Newman             93.5
Jeff Burton                   90.4
Martin Truex Jr.           89.7
Jeff Gordon                 89.4
Clint Bowyer               87.9
Note: Driver Rating compiled from 2005-2011 races (13 total) at Dover.
 
Qualifying/Race Data
2010 pole winner: Jimmie Johnson (155.736 mph, 23.116 seconds)
2010 race winner: Jimmie Johnson (131.543 mph, 09-26-10)
Track qualifying record: Jeremy Mayfield (161.522 mph, 22.288 seconds, 06-04-04)
Track race record: Mark Martin (132.719 mph, 09-21-97)

Dover Storylines

What a difference a Chase makes.

Tony Stewart unleashed his own version of rope-a-dope again last weekend, going two-for-two to open the Chase, this time winning at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

In doing so, Stewart went from worst-to-first in two races, nabbing the points lead and becoming an immediate favorite to win his third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.

Can Stewart win his third straight this weekend? If so, it’ll be the first time he has ever won three consecutive races. His chance will come Sunday, in the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway.

NASCAR Nationwide Series action returns this weekend, and the battle between Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Elliott Sadler continues. Their fight for a first NASCAR Nationwide title wages on in Saturday afternoon’s OneMain Financial 200 at Dover.

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads to its penultimate standalone race of the season, with a tight three-way points battle between Austin Dillon, James Buescher and Johnny Sauter. The tough trucks hit Kentucky Speedway for Saturday night’s Kentucky 225.


NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES

Stewart Doubles Up To Open Chase
Stewart wears the early crown among those drivers aiming to end Jimmie Johnson’s reign of five consecutive titles.

After going winless the entire 26-race regular season, Stewart has won the first two races of the Chase. Only one other driver has ever opened the Chase with two consecutive wins – Greg Biffle in 2008. Biffle finished third in the points that season.

If Stewart wins again at Dover, it’ll be the first time he has ever won three-consecutive races in his career. It’ll also be the first time a driver has won three consecutive races in the Chase since Jimmie Johnson won four straight in 2007.

Stewart’s last two finishes at Dover have been outside the top 20, but he does have two-career wins at the one-mile concrete track.

Keselowski Climb Continues
In only nine races, Brad Keselowski has moved from 23rd in points to his current position of third. A few reasons for his startling launch up the points standings…
- Of course, the reset helped. After Richmond, all Chase drivers had their points total reset to 2,000 points, with the top 10 drivers tacking on three bonus points for each win during the regular season.
- Still, over the last nine races, his stats look like this: two wins, six top fives and eight top 10s.
- Keselowski’s worst finish was a still-solid 12th at Richmond.

Keselowski’s third-place points position is the best of his career.

Harvick Owns Lucky No. 2
Though Kevin Harvick lost the points lead at New Hampshire, he might like this position a little better once hearing these numbers.

During the Chase era (2004-Present), the points leader after the second Chase race has never gone on to win the championship. In four of the seven previous Chases, though, the driver in second after two Chase races did go on to win the championship – including Jimmie Johnson in each of the last three seasons.

Johnson In Unchartered Territory
Jimmie Johnson, he of seemingly never-ending Chase success, is currently 10th in points. That’s his lowest Chase position ever. His previous low was ninth, three different times.

An 18th-place finish at New Hampshire put him 29 points behind the points leader, Tony Stewart. Johnson need only look at his own past history to know that this lead is not insurmountable. In 2006, he was 136 points behind then leader Jeff Burton after two Chase races – and came back to win his first championship.

Of course, there was a different points structure then, but a 29 point deficit now roughly translates to a 120-point deficit under the only points structure.

More good news: Dover’s up next. Johnson has won three of the last five Dover races, and six overall.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Final Driver Ratings For New Hampshire Sylvania 300 Following All Practices

Micah Roberts Top 10 Driver Ratings
Sylvania 300
New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Sunday, September 25, 2011 - 11:16 am (PDT)

Rating    Driver     Odds     Practice 1   Qualified   Practice 2   Practice 3

 1. Jimmie Johnson 5/1          4th             10th            1st             3rd  
Three-time winner with the last coming in 2010; using new chassis this week.
 2. Kevin Harvick 7/1             11th             6th             3rd             9th
2006 winner; using same chassis this week that won at Martinsville and Richmond.
 3. Jeff Gordon 6/1                 3rd              7th             5th             2nd
Three-time winner, the last coming in 1998; four runner-up finishes since 2004.
 4. Kyle Busch 10/1               23rd             8th             7th             5th
2006 winner with only two top-five finishes in 10 races since; new car this week.
 5. Tony Stewart 6/1              14th            20th           11th            28th
Two-time winner, the last coming in 2005; using runner-up car from July NHMS race. 
 6. Ryan Newman 15/1           1st             1st              9th             6th
Three-time winner, site of his first and last win; using winning car from July NHMS race.
 7. Kasey Kahne 40/1             2nd             2nd            14th            7th
Finished sixth in July race and had one of the better overall final two practice sessions.
 8. Jeff Burton 40/1                 9th             18th            2nd             4th
Four-time winner, the last coming in 2000; best 10-consecutive lap average of practice.
 9. Denny Hamlin 8/1             19th            28th           22nd           15th
2007 winner with a track best 7.2 average finish in 11 career starts; finished third in July.
10. Kurt Busch 15/1              32nd             5th             17th           22nd
Three-time winner, the last coming in 2008; using brand new chassis this week

Note: Races run at Richmond, Martinsville and Phoenix this season can serve as a good barometer for handicapping New Hampshire due to the relatively flat banking on each.
      
Odds courtesy of the Las Vegas Hilton Super Book.

Micah Roberts, a former race and sports Director, has been setting NASCAR lines in Las Vegas since 1995. For more Roberts insights and post-practice analysis on the race, go to VegasInsider.com or follow MicahRoberts7 on Twitter.

Driver Chassis Selections for New Hampshire Sylvania 300

Note: Not all teams list their chassis selection in their PR releases

New car for Keselowski this week at Loudon (getty)
Jamie McMurray: The #1 AXE team will bring chassis #1116 to New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend. This will be the first time that this brand new car hits the track during the 2011 season.

Brad Keselowski: will race chassis PRS-761 during Sunday's Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS). This is a new chassis to the #2 fleet.

David Ragan: Primary: RK-759 Last ran Pocono - finished 34th; Backup: RK-747 Last ran Martinsville - finished eighth

Mark Martin: Crew chief Lance McGrew has chosen Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 5-695 for Sunday's race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. This is a brand new chassis that never has been raced or tested.

Marcos Ambrose: The #9 RPM team has prepared chassis No. 743 for the 317.4-mile event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. This DEWALT Ford Fusion was run previously this season at California, Charlotte and Michigan.

Stewart brought his runner-up Loudon car from July (Getty)
Tony Stewart: Chassis No. 14-637: This car made its debut in April at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, where it experienced some teething problems, qualifying 28th and finishing 34th with a broken rear-end gear. Prior to Martinsville, Chassis No. 14-637 was tested March 14 at the half-mile Little Rock Speedway in Rockingham, N.C. The July race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon marked the car's second career start, where it qualified second and led twice for 48 laps before finishing .773 of a second behind his teammate, Ryan Newman. It saw track time again during a Goodyear Tire Test at Phoenix International Raceway Aug. 29-30. Chassis No. 14-637 returns to New Hampshire for its third career start with this weekend's Sylvania 300.

Matt Kenseth: Primary: RK-751 (last raced at Bristol)

Kyle Busch: Chassis No. 315: This chassis will make its third-ever start in Sunday's Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. In its first outing in July's Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Busch started a distant 29th but still managed to bring home a respectable 10th-place finish. In its most recent out last month at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Busch started 17th but went on to score his fourth win of the season in the Pure Michigan 400.

Kurt Busch: and his Steve Addington-led Penske Racing "Double-Deuce" team will be racing their "PRS-761" Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. "It's a brand new Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger" offered crew chief Addington.

Paul Menard: will pilot Chassis No. 341 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This #27 Chevrolet Impala was a brand new addition to the RCR fleet for the 2011 season and was last seen in competition at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (July) where Menard started ninth and finished 24th.

Harvick has two wins in the car he's using this week (Getty)
Kevin Harvick: will race chassis No. 332 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) stable. This is same car he drove to Victory Lane at Martinsville Speedway in March and Richmond International Raceway earlier this month. Harvick also racked up finishes of fourth at Phoenix International Raceway (2/27), 12th at RIR (4/30) and 21st at NHMS (7/17) in this #29 Chevrolet Impala.

Jeff Burton: will pilot chassis No. 329 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend's Sylvania 300. This #31 Chevrolet Impala finished 15th at Bristol Motor Speedway in August. Built new for the 2010 season, Burton also drove this Caterpillar Chevrolet to a 36th-place finish after being involved in an accident at Texas Motor Speedway in November.

Clint Bowyer: will pilot chassis No. 324 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable this weekend at "The Magic Mile." This Chevrolet Impala, built new in 2011, saw action earlier this season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway where Bowyer started 28th and finished 15th.

Dave Blaney: will pilot the No. 293 chassis this weekend. TBR purchased the chassis from Richard Childress Racing. Jeff Burton drove the chassis prior to its debut with TBR. Blaney drove the chassis at Kentucky Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway earlier this year. Stephen Leicht also piloted the chassis this season at Richmond International Raceway September 10th.

Newman rolls out same car that won in July (Getty)
Ryan Newman: Chassis No. 39-645: This will be the third start for Chassis No. 39-645 this season and the second start for the chassis at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. The chassis made its first start at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in April. Newman qualified on the outside of the front row and, for the first 327 laps, looked to be a sure bet for another top-10 finish, or even a contender for the win. However, Newman's good fortunes came undone on lap 328, thanks to a broken header pipe that sapped his car's horsepower for the rest of the race, and a flat left-rear tire that sent him for a spin off turn three a little later in the race. Those events conspired to put Newman two laps down and relegated him to a 20th-place finish at the .526-mile paperclip-shaped oval. Next up for the chassis was a stop at New Hampshire in July. Newman & Company dominated the weekend at Loudon as he qualified on the pole and then led six times for a race-high 119 laps in his No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) Chevrolet en route to his 15th career victory, his third at New Hampshire and his second career win with SHR.

Juan Pablo Montoya: Crew Chief Jim Pohlman and the #42 team are bringing chassis #1110 to New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend. This will be the third run of the season for this chassis after it was previously driven to a fourth-place finish at Martinsville Speedway in April and in the first event of 2011 at NHMS in July.

A.J. Allmendinger: The #43 RPM team has prepared chassis No. 729 for this weekend's event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. This Best Buy Ford has been run previously this season at Phoenix, Martinsville Speedway, Darlington Raceway and both Pocono Raceway events.

Jimmie Johnson: will pilot brand new chassis No. 689 in Sunday's event. Johnson finished 31st in backup chassis No. 590 at Richmond International Raceway in September.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr.: Crew chief Steve Letarte and the #88 team will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-694 this weekend at New Hampshire. This is a brand new chassis that has not been raced.

Carl Edwards: RK-782 - Last ran at Loudon in July, finished 13th

- compiled by Jayski.com

Johnson and Gordon Fast in Final New Hampshire Practice, But Not The FASTEST

Hendrick duo looks good for Sunday at New Hampshire
After watching the Stewart-Haas teams finish 1-2 in the July New Hampshire race, then seeing the Childress drivers take things up a notch in Sauturday's first practice session, the Hendrick duo of Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon made it be known during happy hour that they are on the same plateau for Sunday's race.

However, it wasn't the Hendrick duo that had the top speeds. They finished second and third fastest.

It was David Stremme, with a lap speed of 130.644 mph, showing the fastest way around New Hampshire Motor Speedway during the final practice session. Not quite sure how he did it, but he took his second lap of his 11 run and made the time stick while in race trim like everyone else.

Gordon was second fastest with a lap speed of 130.416 mph followed by Johnson (130.336), Jeff Burton (130.309) and Kyle Busch (130.269).

Rounding out the top-ten fastest during final practice was pole sitter Ryan Newman (130.126), Kasey Kahne (130.060), Greg Biffle (130.042), Kevin Harvick (129.984) and Paul Menard (129.975).

Johnson, Newman and Kyle Busch had the top three 10-consecutive lap averages.

New Hampshire Practice Speeds

Johnson Fastest in Saturday's Early Loudon Practice Session, RCR Cars Fast

Jimmie Johnson led the way with a lap speed of 130.198 in Saturday's early practice session at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Jeff Burton, with a lap speed of 130.180 mph, was second fastest, followed by Kevin Harvick (130.149), Greg Biffle (130.109) and Jeff Gordon (130.006).

Rounding out the top-ten fastest during practice were Clint Bowyer (129.975) who was sixth fastest, Kyle Busch (129.962), Regan Smith (129.958), Ryan Newman (129.918) and AJ Allmendinger (129.905).

Just by looking at the speeds of Burton with Harvick and Bowyer close behind, it looks like the RCR cars have something special to compete with the Stewart-Haas tandem this week. Tony Stewart was 11th fastest, but four-time NHMS winner Burton led the way with the fastest 10-consecutive lap average.

The drivers have one more practice session scheduled on the day.

New Hampshire Practice Speeds

Thursday, September 22, 2011

New Hampshire Sylvania 300 Preview

By Micah Roberts
VegasInsider.com

From the front row to finishing 1-2 at New Hampshire in July (Getty)
Race 2 of NASCAR's Chase for the Championship takes us to Loudon, New Hampshire for some flat-track racing. This will be the second time the series has stopped at the one-mile facility. Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart had a 1-2 finish in July which gives us a lot to work with when breaking down who might do well this week.

In addition to the July race, we can also reference Phoenix and both Richmond races to get a read on who the top drivers might be this week. Although none of the three tracks have the same layout, the banking and short distances are similar which means that if certain teams do well on one track, they’re likely to do the same on the other.

Even though Martinsville is half the distance of New Hampshire, we’re seeing a lot more teams incorporate their chassis set-up -- and sometimes the actual car -- from there to the three other tracks just because of the banking, or lack thereof.

We also can put a lot more weight into what we just saw two weeks at Richmond because it is the most recent run, a race won by Kevin Harvick with Carl Edwards and Jeff Gordon in tow.

However, based on how this wild season has gone with five first-time winners and 14 different drivers taking the checkers, it could be argued that past trends mean as little as they ever have.

It’s almost a crap shoot every week and it doesn’t help that this years ridiculous practice schedule with only two practice sessions happening and both come before qualifying. It’s become harder than ever to weed out the good practice times in race trim from those in qualifying trim. The fastest 10-consecutive lap stat helps, but there is nothing like having a ’Real’ Happy Hour where all the cars have their optimum set-up ready to race.

What we have now is teams getting their cars set perfect for race conditions and then having to reset it for qualifying. Even though they have notes to re-set the car back up that was the best during practice, it’s almost impossible to get it back as perfect after resetting it for qualifying. It’s like starting all over again and they don’t have a practice to show that they got it back correct, they have to make the changes needed during the race.

If anything, I think the practice schedule has a lot to do with all the parity we’re seeing right now.

Kevin Harvick is bringing a very strong car this week (Getty)
However, we're in luck this week as we have the traditional schedule of practices. The first practice session will be held before qualifying, which will be used almost exclusively in qualifying trim. On Saturday, we have two sets of practices which will be used for race trim only. Those who are good in practice will be able to roll the exact same set-up out onto the track.

Kevin Harvick leads a list of drivers who should be keyed on this week just because of the car he's using. The 2006 New Hampshire winner will be using a chassis that most recently won at Richmond, which also happened to win at Martinsville. All flat tracks, and they account for half of his season wins.

It also helps siding with Harvick this week knowing that he loves racing on these types of tracks.

"I always look forward to going to New Hampshire, " Harvick said earlier this week. "I like that type of track because it’s flat, similar to the tracks out west where I started my racing career. There’s a lot of braking. You have to really work on getting your car through the center of the corner and still have the forward drive you need up off the corner.”

Jeff Gordon has three Loudon wins over his career in 33 starts with his last win coming during his magical year of 1998. Since 2004, he’s been runner-up on four separate occasions and hasn’t finished worse than 15th. On the basis of his strong Richmond run recently, his Phoenix win and his current form everywhere, Gordon should be considered one of the favorites to win this week.

Gordon's 11th-place run in July may not looks so strong, but there was way more to the story in that race.

“We had a fast car that day," said Gordon, "and I’m really looking forward to going back there this weekend. Even after losing the lap because of the battery change, we were still able to work our way up through traffic pretty well. I wasn’t able to run any blowers (because of the electrical issues) and I think that’s what blew the right front at the end of the race. Hopefully, we don’t have any issues like that Sunday.

Denny Hamlin didn’t have a good run at Richmond two weeks ago, a track where he has always dominated, but he did show up for the last Loudon race with a third-place finish. He was also runner-up in the first Richmond race. In 11 starts on the track, Hamlin has finished in the top-10 eight times with a win in 2007.

Hamlin's goal will be to start his weekend off strong in qualifying trim.

"New Hampshire can be a tricky place to pass so we’ll be looking to qualify close to the front because that goes a long way at this track," explained Hamlin. "We know we need to be running in the top-five or top-10 all day to be in position at the end.”

Jimmie Johnson is a three-time winner at New Hampshire with the last win coming in the spring race last season. In 19 starts he’s finished 15th or better in 17 of them. This is the time that Johnson is supposed to turn it on like he has every year. No one has more Chase wins than Johnson.

Ryan Newman was strong in the first Loudon race this year and it gave him his third career New Hampshire win. He's always done well on the track over his career, but doesn't exactly know why.

“New Hampshire has always been a good place for me, I’m not a hundred percent sure why. It’s the place of my first win, when I hadn’t won in a long while, 70 some races. I won again there. This past July we were able to qualify and finish 1-2 at Stewart-Haas. It’s a fun race, it’s a very finesse racetrack."

Tony Stewart settled for his fourth runner-up finish at New Hampshire since his last win in 2005. Stewart has two career wins on the track. Because of how good Stewart and Newman were the last time around, they should be again considered top candidates to win.

Top 5 Finish Prediction:
1) #29 Kevin Harvick (7/1)
2) #14 Tony Stewart (6/1)
3) #48 Jimmie Johnson (5/1)
4) #24 Jeff Gordon (6/1)
5) #39 Ryan Newman (15/1)

Driver Notes & Quotes for New Hampshire

Kevin Harvick is using his Martinsville and Richmond winning car (Getty)
KEVIN HARVICK ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “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 (at NHMS). 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. I always look forward to going to New Hampshire. I like that type of track because it’s flat, similar to the tracks out west where I started my racing career. There’s a lot of braking. You have to really work on getting your car through the center of the corner and still have the forward drive you need up off the corner.”

HARVICK CHASSIS CHOICE: Kevin Harvick will race chassis No. 332 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) stable. This is same car he drove to Victory Lane at Martinsville Speedway in March and Richmond International Raceway earlier this month. Harvick also racked up finishes of fourth at Phoenix International Raceway (2/27), 12th at RIR (4/30) and 21st at NHMS (7/17) in this No. 29 Chevrolet Impala.

GREG BIFFLE ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “We’re taking the car that we had a decent run with at Richmond a couple of weeks ago. It was the best we’d run at Richmond in a long time so the guys worked hard to get the car turned around and ready to go for this weekend. We had a really fast car last weekend and had a random problem take us out of contention. If we can avoid things like that, I really think we have a chance to get a win before the end of the season. We’ve got a special Ford40mpg.com paint scheme this weekend and we’re ready to get it on the track.”

TONY STEWART ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “It’s a big motor deal (NHMS). With the corners being so tight, you’ve got to put a lot of gear in the car to get it up off the corner. Forward bite is always an issue there too, so it’s hard to get up off the corners. Then you’ve got long straightaways where you can kind of relax a little bit. Coming into the corners, you use a lot of brake, and it’s hard to not only get the car stopped, but to get it to turn. Then you go through that challenge all over again. Obviously, I like it because I’ve had success there. But at the same time, it’s a tough track to pass on. You can be a couple of tenths faster than a guy, but it still takes you 20 laps to get by him. There are other tracks on the circuit where it’s hard to pass, but we still go out and put on good shows there, too. Every race at Loudon seems to be a pretty good race. So, I like it. I enjoy racing there even though it is hard to pass. But when you’ve got a good car, it’s always fun to race. We were really good there in the spring. I am hoping that, that is a scenario, where what we had is going to be really close to what we are going to want this time around again. Both Ryan (Newman) and I were really fast all day long, so I am hoping we can have a similar weekend.”

DALE EARNHARDT JR. ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “I like Loudon. Just getting the car to turn in the middle is important. That track is really flat and it is very hard to get a car to rotate in the middle of the corner really good.”

RYAN NEWMAN ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “New Hampshire has always been a good place for me. I’m not a hundred percent sure why. It’s the place of my first win, when I hadn’t won in a long while, 70 some races. I won again there. This past July we were able to qualify and finish 1-2 at Stewart-Haas. It’s a fun race, it’s a very finesse racetrack. You can’t overdrive the car there very much because it’s so flat. I’ve always said the birthplace of track position. It’s a relatively short race. Basically you only need to stop for fuel two, maybe three times depending on cautions. You don’t get a whole lot of opportunities to work on your racecar. You start up front; you have a good chance of staying up front. It’s a place we’ve done well at. Our short track program at Stewart-Haas Racing is strong. It’s a good place for us to go after the first stop at the Chicago race.”

Edwards using July NHMS car (Getty)
CARL EDWARDS ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “We ran really well at Richmond so I’m pretty excited about racing at New Hampshire. I was nervous about it until that Richmond run. Hopefully we can run that well at New Hampshire. If we were to win there it would be huge for Roush Fenway, for the Chase and for me personally to win a Cup race at one of my toughest tracks.”

EDWARDS CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 99 team will be bringing RK-782 this weekend to New Hampshire. This was a brand new car in July when it finished 13th atNew Hampshire. The car will sport a new Scotts Winterguard paint scheme.

JIMMIE JOHNSON ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “I think I was more intense in the early years (in his approach to the Chase) because any driver has a lot of thoughts and you’re trying to analyze all these situations. Before you win a race, you wonder how you are going to handle those situations and you are trying to mentally prepare for a variety of situations. Once you win a race, you’re like ‘Oh, ok, this is how I do it’; this is how I deal with pressure; this is how I hold someone off; this is how I find a way by someone; adjustments you need to make late in a race. You start building some confidence in your own decision making process. You get into the championship format and it’s the same thing. So, over time, I’ve built a lot of confidence, in truthfully the way I think and the things that I focus on and I feel like I have a better road map on where to focus. I don’t waste a lot of extra time worrying about other areas. Throughout all of that, you know, I’m not the smartest guy and I don’t have a ton of brain power, it’s allowed me to kind of sit back and relax and have fun.”

JOHNSON CHASSIS CHOICE: Johnson will pilot brand new chassis No. 689 in Sunday’s event. Johnson finished 31st in backup chassis No. 590 at Richmond International Raceway in September.

JEFF GORDON ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “We had a fast car that day (July race at NHMS), and I’m really looking forward to going back there this weekend. Even after losing the lap because of the battery change, we were still able to work our way up through traffic pretty well. I wasn’t able to run any blowers (because of the electrical issues) and I think that’s what blew the right front at the end of the race. Hopefully, we don’t have any issues like that Sunday. That is not how we wanted to start the Chase (24th place finish at Chicago on Monday). We battled hard throughout the event, and that’s what we’re going to do at New Hampshire and the other eight races. I do feel confident whenever we race here, but a lot of that is the car and the setup. This track has some very unique things that make it challenging, though. It’s flat, and there are some bumps getting into the corners. While we ran well here a few months ago, we’ll see what we have on Friday when we unload. Hopefully, we’ll be just as competitive and battling for the win come Sunday.”

KURT BUSCH ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “We’re off to a good start in the Chase. We led laps and finished sixth in our Shell/Pennzoil Dodge at Chicagoland. That’s a good start, but that’s just one race. We have fast cars. We need to continue to have fast pit stops. We have to keep up with the track with good adjustments and make the car better during the race. If we are successful in managing those factors, we’ll be in position to compete for wins and have good finishes. That’s what we need to do the next nine weeks to challenge for the championship.”

BRAD KESELOWSKI ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “It’s always a lot of fun when we go up to Loudon to race. The fans really love what we do and they show it by filling the stands. It’s one of those tracks we can go to and almost guarantee that it will be sold out. The racing that we put on at New Hampshire sometimes get a bad rap, but I think it has produced some of the most-exciting finishes over the last few years. It’s a one-mile track, but it races like a short track. There’s a lot of beating and banging and bumping and running – all of the things that the fans love.”

CLINT BOWYER ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “Flat tracks like New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Richmond International Raceway always fit my driving style. I love racing up there. It is a lot of fun. Nothing in particular, it just fits my driving style. It has more of a progressive banking to it in turns one and two. You get down there and it almost feels like it is reverse camber. It’s hard to make your car work down there. While you do have to give them (Chase contenders) some more respect because there is so much on the line, you still race them the same way you would all year long. If they race you tough, you race them tough. It’s a two-way street.”

BOWYER CHASSIS CHOICE: Clint Bowyer will pilot chassis No. 324 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable this weekend at “The Magic Mile.” This Chevrolet Impala, built new in 2011, saw action earlier this season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway where Bowyer started 28th and finished 15th.

Matt Kenseth is using his Bristol car this week (Getty)
MATT KENSETH ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “New Hampshire is a place that we just haven’t done particularly well at in the past. It isn’t that I dislike the track, but everyone has tracks they like more than others, and Loudon just isn’t one of our best ones. We had a great car and pit stops last weekend, but didn’t get the finish we deserved, so I’m hoping that we can get a good run on Sunday to put us back into contention. The best handling cars at Loudon can turn well in the center of the corner, and typically if you can get your car to work well in those corners, you can have a good day at New Hampshire.”

KENSETH CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-751 (last raced at Bristol)

KYLE BUSCH ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “Loudon is a pretty particular racetrack. It’s tough. It’s not like Phoenix before the repave. It’s not like Dover at all. It’s a flat racetrack and it’s really typical of a tough racetrack to pass on. You can’t just have a really good racecar and finish up front. You have to keep track position. You have to keep up all day and make everything work.”

MARK MARTIN ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “I’ve felt since mid-season that we were figuring some things out. At Indy we had a great run and would’ve battled for the win if we just had a little more fuel. This team is really good. More so than we’ve shown. And they’re capable of good things. We’re putting our nose down right now and really working hard and its showing. We had a good run at Richmond last week and another one at Chicago. Hopefully we can continue to build on that.”

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “I think we ran short on fuel the last time we were in New Hampshire; our Target team usually runs really good there. That is one of the first ovals that we have been running really good at and are consistent. Right now it is one of those deals where you go to the track every week not knowing what is going to happen. It is exciting because we are working on the cars really hard, finding some stuff and moving in the right direction. We are going to have a really cool paint scheme this weekend too. It is the Degree Men car. A black and yellow car and I saw pictures the other day and was like ‘Ooh. That is awesome!’”

PAUL MENARD ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “It’s one of those tracks (NHMS) that we’ve gone to and felt pretty good about our car during practice, we qualify in the top 10, and then we just struggle really bad during the race. We’ve done a little short-track testing this year to try and help that. Especially after the last visit to Loudon (NHMS); it was pretty embarrassing. Hopefully the testing pays off. We tested at the Milwaukee Mile, which is as close to Loudon as you’re going to get. I don’t think passing at either end of the race track is that much different from each other. In turn two, there’s a wall that you get close to, but it doesn’t get in the way. In turn four, there’s a lot more room to make a pass.”

JEFF BURTON ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “You really have to be aware of what your car is doing and how it’s driving (while saving fuel and trying to pass at NHMS). Sometimes, running lower than the other guy isn’t hurting your tires and sometimes it is. You have to be aware as a race car driver what your car is doing and if you’re abusing it or not. The problem with all of that is you never know when there’s a caution coming out. If you make the decision to sit there and ride and be smart then a caution comes out in 50 laps, then you’ve wasted your time, and you should have been going. On the other hand, if a caution doesn’t come out, then you were really, really smart. You have no way of knowing that and that’s what makes these races so interesting. When that caution flies, it affects so much what is going to happen in the rest of the race. We’re having less cautions, and I don’t know why. That has had a huge impact on pit strategies. The fewer cautions you have, the more likely you are to have fuel mileage become an issue.”

REGAN SMITH ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “The first thing that comes to mind about New Hampshire is fuel mileage. Maybe it’s because we’re just coming off a fuel mileage race in Chicago or that we (Furniture Row Racing) ran out of fuel at the July New Hampshire race while running in the top 15. I don’t like the fuel mileage races and it seems like we’ve had too many of them this season. We’ve had a couple of top-20 finishes the past two races (18-Richmond, 17-Chicago) but would like to see that improve to top 15s or top 10s. I like the New Hampshire track and thought we had a good setup for our Furniture Row Chevrolet at the July race. Hopefully the car setup will be as good or better this weekend.”

JAMIE MCMURRAY ON NEW HAMPSHIRE: “New Hampshire is a fun track to race, long straights and flat turns make track position important as it can be difficult to pass. We had a strong run here in the first race this season. We ran up front, but had a loose wheel after one of our stops and had to get off sequence with the leaders. We tried to stretch it to the end on fuel mileage, but came up a couple of laps short in the end. We had a better car than our results showed, hopefully we can turn that around this weekend. We also have a new sponsor on our No. 1 Chevrolet in Loudon, AXE Cool Metal will be on the car for this race, so I look forward to getting to meet a lot of their guests.