Saturday, September 29, 2012

Final 2012 Dover AAA 400 Driver Ratings Following All Practices


Micah Roberts’ Top 10 Driver Ratings
AAA 400
Dover International Speedway
Sunday, September 30, 2012 -  11:16 a.m. (PDT)

Rating    Driver     Odds         Practice 1   Practice 2     Qualified     Dover*

 1. Jimmie Johnson 4/1          25th              3rd              11th            1st 
Seven-time winner; using chassis that won Brickyard 400 and June Dover race.
 2. Kyle Busch 8/1                      6th              10th               5th           29th  
Two-time winner, the last in 2010; best 10-consecutive average in final practice.
 3. Mark Martin 20/1                   4th              28th             26th           14th 
Four-time winner, the last in 2004, three runner-ups since; using third-place Texas car.
 4. Jeff Gordon 10/1                  36th              1st                7th           13th  
Four-time winner; comes in hot finishing third or better on four of past five tracks.
 5. Kevin Harvick 15/1                9th              35th             13th            2nd 
Using chassis that has produced his best finishes of 2012 -- runner-up at Phoenix and Dover.
 6. Kasey Kahne 10/1                 8th              13th              9th             9th 
Third best 10-consecutive lap average in practice; chassis has three top-10 finishes in 2012.
 7. Denny Hamlin 12/1               3rd               17th              1st           18th 
Great effort in practice and qualifying, but it’s not his best track: 20.5 career average finish.
 8. Brad Keselowski 10/1          29th               6th              10th          12th 
Gets consideration because of solid runs at Bristol, a smaller but similar track in banking.
 9. Clint Bowyer 15/1                  2nd              32nd             2nd            5th 
13.5 average finish; using chassis that finished eighth or better in both Pocono starts.
10. Martin Truex Jr. 15/1            1st              22nd              3rd            7th 
Hometown of Mayetta, NJ only two hours away; his 2007 win remains only win of career.

* Results from the June 3, 2012 FedEx 400 at Dover.

Odds courtesy of the LVH Super Book.

Micah Roberts, a former sports book director, has been setting NASCAR lines in Las Vegas since 1995. For more Roberts insights on the race, go to The Linemakers on SportingNews.com or follow on Twitter: MicahRoberts7. 


Betting Notes
Truex Jr gets some home cookin' this week (Getty)
Jimmie Johnson is going to be hard to topple just because of his history on the track. He’s tied for the all-time lead in wins with seven and led 289 en route to the win in June. If that wasn’t enough, he’s also bringing a chassis that is batting. 667 this season with wins at Dover and the Brickyard and a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Chicago. Betting against him is not a good idea.

But, if Johnson doesn’t scare you, then maybe Mark Martin, Kevin Harvick or Kyle Busch can provide a little more intensity with better odds. They’re definitely drivers that should finish well, making them great drivers to play in matchups. Kasey Kahne should also be considered.

Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart had terrible practices, but should be two drivers you try and take advantage of in matchups because they’ll be underdogs. Have no fear with Kenseth, this guy knows how to get around Dover. He comes in on a streak of finishing fifth or better in eight of his past nine starts.

Johnson Looks as Good as Ever in Dover Practices

Johnson made improvemnets during Friday's practice sessions (Getty)
By Micah Roberts
The Linemakers on Sporting News

When Jimmie Johnson finished Friday's first practice session at Dover International Speedway with only the 25th-fastest time, everyone was kind of scratching their head wondering what was wrong. Johnson is a seven-time Dover winner and is looking to sweep the season there for the third time in career.

During his first practice session at Dover in June, Johnson started off a little sluggish with only the 14th-fastest lap in the first session, but 25th is an entirely different story. It's hard to accept that the favorite of the race is slower than over half the field of drivers attempting to qualify for Sunday's AAA 400.

But things got better in Friday's final practice session just like they did in June, when he increased to fourth fastest. This time around, Johnson finished with the third-fastest lap at 154.579 mph.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Dover Practice Notes: Truex Jr Fastest in First Session

Martin Truex Jr. fastest in first practice session (Getty)
By Micah Roberts

After some rain delays, the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers got 58-minutes of practice time at Dover International Speedway in preparation for Sunday’ AAA 400. The session was the first of two that will run on Friday before Saturday's qualifying.

Martin Truex Jr. laid down the fastest lap of the session at 157.082 mph on the 12th of his 13 laps run. His lone career win came at Dover in 2007, and it remains his only top-5 finish on the track. His teammate, Clint Bowyer, also came out firing in qualifying trim with the second fastest lap gained on the final of his 13 laps run.

Denny Hamlin hasn’t had a lot of success at Dover over his career with a 20.5 average finish, but he was sharp Friday with the third fastest speed.

Four-time Dover winner Mark Martin put all three MWR cars in the top-4 with the fourth fastest time using the same car that he won the pole with in June’s race.

Two-time Dover winner Greg Biffle rounded out the top-5 with a speed of 156.230 mph.

Five of the top-6 speeds were gained by Toyotas.

Joey Logano ran the most laps of the session with 37. Only two drivers attempted 10-consecutive laps or more.

Danica Patrick ran 32 laps, but had the slowest speed (148.723) among the 48 drivers that will attempt to qualify Saturday.

Race favorite, and seven-time Dover winner, Jimmie Johnson had the 25th fastest individual lap. Another surprise down the charts was Matt Kenseth with the 44th fastest lap. Kenseth is on a run at Dover that has seen him finish fifth or better in eight of his past nine starts.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Driver Chassis Selections for 2012 Dover AAA 400

Kahne or Kenseth could give the 48 a run for his money Sunday (Getty)
#1-Jamie McMurray: Crew Chief Kevin "Bono" Manion and the No. 1 McDonald's team will use Chassis #1109 for Dover. Chassis #1109 has been used previously this season at Atlanta finishing 24th.

#2-Brad Keselowski: The No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger team will race chassis PRS-813 during Sunday's AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway (DIS). Keselowski last raced this chassis to a fourth-place finish at Pocono Raceway last month. It has been updated to the current Penske Racing specification.
#5-Kasey Kahne: Crew chief Kenny Francis has selected Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 5-717 for Sunday's race at Dover. Kahne has raced this car to three top-10 finishes in three starts this season, including an eighth-place result in April at Kansas Speedway, a track in the Chase.
#6-Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.: RK-696 - primary - last ran at Bristol- finished second. RK-708 - backup - new Nationwide chassis.
#9-Marcos Ambrose: The No. 9 RPM team has prepared chassis No. 743 for this weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race at Dover International Speedway. This DEWALT Ford was run previously this season at Bristol and Darlington.
#14-Tony Stewart: Chassis No. 14-708: This car debuted in May in the Southern 500 at Darlington (S.C) Raceway where Stewart rallied Chassis No. 14-708 from its 17th-place starting spot to finish third. Its second start came in June at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. It endured a much different outing, qualifying 29th and finishing 25th, 69 laps down after getting caught up in a 12-car accident on lap 10 of the 400-lap race around the 1-mile, concrete oval. With new sheet metal all around, Chassis No. 14-708 returned to the concrete for its third career start in August for the night race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. There, the car rallied from being a lap down in 34th place early in the race to vying for the lead with Matt Kenseth on lap 333. Stewart and Kenseth banged fenders and crashed, whereupon Stewart threw his helmet with pinpoint accuracy at Kenseth's car. The resulting 27th-place finish was at least offset by the "10" Stewart received from the Bristol crowd. Chassis No. 14-708 will make its fourth career start and second at Dover in the AAA 400 on Sunday.

#15-Clint Bowyer: Primary chassis No. 733 finished sixth a Pocono in June and eighth at Pocono in August in its only racing action this season. Backup chassis No. 716 finished sixth at Las Vegas and also ran at Kansas, Kentucky and Indy.
#16-Greg Biffle: Primary: RK-809 Last ran Michigan - finished 4th; Backup: RK-803 Last ran Pocono - finished 15th
#17-Matt Kenseth: Primary: RK-802 (Last run at Bristol)
#22-Sam Hornish, Jr.: and his Todd Gordon-led Penske Racing No. 22 Team will be utilizing the "PRS-826" Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger this weekend at Dover. This is the same car that Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski drove in the May Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. In that race, the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge started 24th and finished fifth. Keselowski's team also utilized this Dodge Charger in the August Michigan race, where they started 19th and finished second. The chassis has been sent back through the Penske Racing shop and updated with the latest components and adorned with the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil color scheme prior to its return to action this weekend at Dover. The "819" chassis will serve as the backup this weekend. It was the car that AJ Allmendinger drove to a second-place finish in the April Martinsville race and served as the backup at several races including Atlanta.
#27-Paul Menard: will pilot Chassis No. 379 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend's AAA 400. This Chevrolet was last raced at Pocono Raceway in August, where he started third and finished 11th. It was also utilized earlier this season at Charlotte Motor Speedway (July) in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race where Menard finished 16th, Kansas Speedway where he finished 18th and Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March where he finished seventh.
#29-Kevin Harvick: will pilot Chassis No.383 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend's AAA 400. Harvick raced this chassis at Phoenix International Raceway in March and Dover International Speedway in June, collecting second-place finishes in both events. Most recently, the Bakersfield, Calif., native drove this Chevrolet to a 15th-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway in August.
#31-Jeff Burton: will race Chassis No. 392 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable this weekend. This No. 31 Chevrolet was utilized in June at Dover International Speedway where engine issues thwarted Burton's top-five run and relegated him to a 22nd-place finish. This was car also raced at Kentucky Speedway in June where Burton piloted this machine to a 24th-place finish after starting 29th.
#39-Ryan Newman: Chassis No. 39-733: It's been four starts and four top-10 finishes for Chassis No. 39-733 since making its debut at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July. At Indianapolis, Newman and his team overcame an ill-handling racecar and used quick pit work to help engineer a run into the top-10. The crew turned the car around in just a couple of days and took Chassis No. 39-733 to Pocono (Pa.) Raceway the following weekend. There, Newman ran in the top-10 for most of the rain-shortened race and finished sixth. Two weeks later, Chassis No. 39-733 was back on track at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, where it finished eighth. Its most recent start came two weekends ago at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., where it earned its first top-five finish.
#42-Juan Pablo Montoya: Crew Chief Chris "Shine" Heroy and the No. 42 Target team will travel to Dover with Chassis #1111. This Chassis made its debut in last season's finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, leading two laps and finishing 31st after an accident put the No. 42 four laps down. This season, this chassis has seen track time at Bristol finishing eighth, Darlington Raceway, finishing 27th and Dover, finishing 28th.
#43-Aric Almirola:: The No. 43 team has prepared chassis No. 742 for Dover. This chassis ran previously this season at Chicago, Pocono and Darlington.
#48-Jimmie Johnson:: Chassis No. 728 serves as the primary for Johnson at Dover. (Won at Dover and Brickyard, runner-up at Chicago). Chassis No. 681 serves as the backup.
#55-Mark Martin: Primary - 729 - Car won pole at Dover in June, finished third at Texas, 10th at Atlanta with Martin behind wheel. Backup - 732 - raced at Charlotte.
#88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr.: Crew chief Steve Letarte and the No. 88 team will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-745 this weekend at Dover. Earnhardt first raced this chassis to a 12th-place finish at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in August.

#99-Carl Edwards: RK-820 - This car last ran Indy where it finished 29th.

-- From Jayski.com

Dover Preview: Hamlin now in Johnson Territory

By Micah Roberts
VegasInsider.com

Denny Hamlin told the Twitter world last week that he would win at New Hampshire, and on Sunday, he made good on the call. After a disappointing 16th-place finish two weeks ago at Chicago, the win puts Hamlin right back in the mix of things, sitting in third place in the Chase standings with eight races to go.

Jimmie Johnson was runner-up for the second week in a row and holds a one-point Chase lead over Brad Keselowski and a seven-point lead over Hamlin.

Read More Here - Top-5 Dover Predictions

2012 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 85 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.
·         33 different drivers have posted victories led by Jimmie Johnson, Bobby Allison and Richard Petty, each with seven. Johnson leads all active drivers.
·         David Pearson won the first pole in July 1969.
·         There have been 35 different pole winners, led by David Pearson (six).
·         Mark Martin leads all active drivers with five poles.
·         Hendrick Motorsports has a series-high 14 wins.
·         52 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 the 2010 September race.
·         The furthest back in the field a race winner has started was 37th, by Kyle Petty in 1995.
·         Several active drivers had their first start at Dover, including three past champions: David Ragan (finished 42nd in 2006), 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).
·         Youngest NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Dover International Speedway winner: Kyle Busch (6/01/2008 – 23 years, 0 months, 30 days).
·         Oldest NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Dover International Speedway winner: Harry Gant (5/31/1992 – 52 years, 4 months, 21 days).
 
NASCAR in Delaware
·         There have been 85 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
Chase Race #: 3 of 10
Season Race #: 29 of 36 (9-30-12)
Track Size: 1-mile
Banking/Turns: 24 degrees
Banking/Straights: 9 degrees
Frontstretch Length: 1,076 feet
Backstretch Length: 1,076 feet
Race Length: 400 laps / 400 miles
 
Top 12 Driver Rating at Dover
Jimmie Johnson........................ 120.6
Matt Kenseth............................ 110.5
Carl Edwards............................ 104.8
Greg Biffle................................ 104.2
Kyle Busch.............................. 101.6
Mark Martin............................... 96.9
Kurt Busch................................ 95.4
Aric Almirola............................. 94.8
Jeff Gordon............................... 91.1
Ryan Newman.......................... 90.4
Clint Bowyer............................. 89.7
Jeff Burton................................ 89.1
Note: Driver Rating compiled from 2005-2012 races (15 total) at Dover.
 
Qualifying/Race Data
2011 pole winner:
Martin Truex Jr., Toyota (159.004 mph, 22.641 sec., 9-30-11)
 
2011 race winner:
Kurt Busch, Dodge (119.413 mph, 3:30:59, 10-02-11)
 
Track qualifying record:
Jeremy Mayfield, Dodge (161.522 mph, 22.288 sec., 6-04-04)
 
Track race record:
Mark Martin, Ford (132.719 mph, (3:00:50), 9-21-97)
 

Buescher favored to win Saturday’s Smith’s 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

James Buescher favored in Vegas (Getty)
LAS VEGAS – The race and sports book at the South Point Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas has selected James Buescher as the favorite to win Saturday’s Smith’s 350 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Buescher is a four-time winner this year and is only four points behind standings leader Ty Dillon.
Speaking of Dillon, he is listed as second-favorite – at 9-2 – although he never has turned a lap at LVMS. Dillon has one win this season, at Atlanta in August.

Past winner Todd Bodine (2005) down on the list this year at 40-1. Hometown hero Brendan Gaughan, who won here in 2003, is listed at 8-1. Last year’s Smith’s 350 winner, Ron Hornaday, is on the board at 25-1.

JAMES BUESCHER – 7-2
TY DILLON – 9-2
TIMOTHY PETERS – 6-1
MATT CRAFTON – 10-1
PARKER KLIGERMAN – 6-1
JOEY COULTER – 10-1
JOHNNY SAUTER – 8-1
NELSON PIQUET JR. – 8-1
BRENDAN GAUGHAN – 8-1
RON HORNADY JR. – 25-1
JUSTIN LOFTON – 20-1
DAVID MAYHEW – 25-1
TODD BODINE – 40-1
GRANT ENFINGER – 60-1
MIGUEL PALUDO – 60-1
JASON WHITE – 60-1
CALE GALE – 60-1
FIELD (all others) – 60-1

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers will sign autographs in the Neon Garage in the infield of the superspeedway from 6-7 p.m. on Friday following the final practice session.

The Smith’s 350 is slated to start at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29, with Sylvania SilverStar zXe Global RallyCross Championship action on the schedule at approximately 8:30 p.m. Spectator gates will open at 3 p.m.

Tickets for the Smith’s 350 and GRC event may be purchased at the LVMS ticket office, online at www.LVMS.com or by calling (702) 644-4444. Follow LVMS on Facebook and Twitter.

-- Las Vegas Motor Speedway PR

        

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fifth Dover Win Would Help Gordon's Fifth Title Chances

Jeff Gordon's last Dover win came in 2001 (Getty)
DOVER, Del. (September 24, 2012) – He is not exactly “calling his shot,” but Jeff Gordon is pretty confident ahead of Sunday’s AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway.

In June at the one-mile concrete track, Gordon started 14th and led 60 laps, but an unscheduled green-flag pit stop for a loose wheel ultimately led to a 13th-place finish.

“I am very optimistic based on our performance earlier this year,” said the driver of the No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet. “We were very fast, but we had an issue that kept us from getting a win – or at least kept us from getting a very strong finish.

“That certainly has me excited about our return trip this weekend.”

In 39 starts at the Delaware track, the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has four wins, four poles, 14 top-fives and 21 top-10′s. He has also led 2,291 laps on the “Monster Mile.”

“We’ve been good at Dover at times,” said Gordon. “It’s been a while, though, since we’ve been as good as we were earlier this year.

“If we can back that up this weekend, this could be the best opportunity we’ve had in a long time here.”

A strong performance in the Chase-opening event at Chicago ended with contact with the turn 1 wall, and Gordon was 47 points behind after one event. A pole at New Hampshire and a third-place run allowed him to cut into that lead by two. Gordon knows it will take consistently good results to chip away at the lead, and that plenty of races remain to do so.

“I have no doubt that we can get back into this,” said Gordon. “We’re a strong team with fast race cars, but we have to put a string of good results together. If we do that, then there is no telling how far we can move up in the point standings.

“There is still a long, long way to go. My crew chief Alan Gustafson reminded us last weekend that nine races remained – and that equated to one quarter of our season.”

Now, eight remain. Is eight enough? Gordon hopes so.

- Performance PR Plus

Johnson Goes for Eighth Dover Win

Jimmie Johnson dominant at Dover (Getty)
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (Sept. 26, 2012) – Victory lane was awash in a rainbow of colors last June at Dover (Del.) International Speedway when Jimmie Johnson and the rest of the No. 48 Lowe’s team made a stop there to pick up their seventh trophy in 21 visits to the high-banked, concrete oval known as the “Monster Mile.”

While Johnson and his Lowe’s mates put on a monster of aperformance during the 400-mile race, spontaneous mischief erupted afterward when the team, including driver Johnson, donned rainbow-colored circus wigs in victory lane. It was a playful homage to the paint scheme that decorated the No. 48 car that weekend, which featured the characters from the movie, “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted.”

Safe to say there will be no wigging out for the No. 48 team when it arrives for Sunday’s AAA 400, the third of 10 races in the 2012 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. Johnson’s record is stellar at the Monster Mile. His driver rating is tops among active drivers and his seven wins in 21 races ties him with NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Bobby Allison for most wins at the track.

In the last nine Dover races, Johnson has just one finish outside the top-10 – a 16th-place run in the June 2010 event – and he has four wins in those nine races (June and September 2009, September 2010 and June 2012). Johnson and crew have only three finishes in 21 Dover races outside the top-15, twice due to accidentsand the other being his 16thplace in June 2010. Even more daunting is his finish at the track at Chase time, keeping himself in the hunt for the championship every year by 14th or better each September.

So while there is a lot on the line as the Sprint Cup competitors prepare for the third race in the Chase, including Johnson’s tenuous one-point lead atop the championship standings, he and the team know there’s no reason to wig out – at least if you look at the stats.

Jimmie Johnson’s Dover Sprint Cup Race Notes of Interest:
· Seven wins (June and September 2002, September 2005, June and September 2009, September 2010 and June 2012).
· Three poles (September 2009 and 2010, June 2011).
· 10 top-five finishes (47.6 percent) and 15 top-10s (71.4 percent) in 21 starts.
· Two DNFs (did not finish – June 2003 and 2004).
· Average start of 9.7 and average finish of 8.9.
· Completed 8,219 of 8,404 laps (97.8 percent) and led 2,275.
· Sprint Cup’s best driver rating (120.6 average of a possible 150 points).
· Sprint Cup’s best average running position (7.2).
· Sprint Cup’s best in fastest laps run (840).
· Sprint Cup’s most laps in the top-15 with 5,170 (86.1 percent).
· Leads all drivers this season with 1,207 of a possible 7,831 laps led (15.41 percent). Denny Hamlin is second with 1,093 laps led (13.96 percent).
· Johnson currently leads the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship by a one-point advantage over second-place Brad Keselowski. Johnson took the top spot after finishing second Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, the site of the second of 10 races in the 2012 Chase.

News and Notes – Dover:
Paint Scheme:
· Johnson will pilot the No. 48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet at Dover.

Chassis:
· Johnson will use chassis No. 728 this week at Dover. This car won the first Dover race in June. It also won at the Brickyard and finished runner-up at Chicago two weeks ago.

On The Road:
· Chandra and Jimmie Johnson have released their self-published book, On The Road. The 208-page, hardcover book chronicles Johnson’s unsuccessful quest in 2011 for an historic sixth consecutive NASCARSprint Cup Series championship.

Ø A limited number of books is available for purchase exclusively trackside at the No. 48 merchandise hauler. In addition, copies are available at jimmiejohnson.com.


JIMMIE JOHNSON QUOTES:

You have seven wins at Dover. What do you love about the track?
“The intensity you have to drive that track with. It really fits my style. It’s the closest track we have to being airborne each lap with the drop-off into turns one and three. It’s just cool you’ve got to bring your big-boy pants every lap there and I love it.”

Looking at Dover, Brad (Keselowski) and Denny (Hamlin) have been pretty outspoken about how much they are dreading this weekend. Safe to assume you have the opposite view? Do you feel like you go in there with a little bit of an edge?
“Well, I do. They are both great drivers and great teams. They have the ability to figure out that racetrack. From my own experiences, tracks that were hard on me I was able to figure them out over time and learn how to win at those tracks. I’m not ruling them out but, when I look through the Chase tracks, there are certain guys I expect to be strong at whatever racetrack. At Chicago, I felt like the No. 2 (Keselowski) was going to be strong and he certainly was. At New Hampshire, I look to the No. 11 (Hamlin) and what he did in the spring. This week, I feel the No. 24 (Jeff Gordon) is going to be a big threat. He got off to a bad start at Chicago. You start thinking through who you feel you are going to have to race on what track and what might be your strong tracks versus your weak tracks. I feel like this weekend is a good opportunity for the No. 48 on a lot of the field, a lot of the Chasers, to get some points on them.”

Is Dover always your kind of ace in the hole in the Chase? It seems like, when you have gotten off to a bad start before, that place is always going to be where you know you are going to come out of there with a lot of points.
“Yeah, so far it’s been a great track for us. The thing there that is tough, and we have been very fortunate to miss it, if something happens, we know it’s a self-cleaning track and you get torn up pretty bad because you are going so fast. If we can run up front and kind of control the race and control who we are racing around, I feel we can make up a lot or hopefully distance ourselves. I want to come out of there with the points lead and hopefully we can distance ourselves from the guys.”

How do you control that race? Is that just strategy with Chad Knaus (crew chief) or just the fact that you lead so many laps?
“Running up front, in the top-three, top-five, especially, early to midway through the race, are just generous to a large degree and not pushing the issue. When you are back in 15th, 20th, it’s cut throat. At a track that fast, a small mistake happens, it could take you right out of the race. Running up front, you really can have the best chance of controlling your own destiny.”

CHAD KNAUS QUOTES:

Why has the 48 team been so successful at Dover?
“I don’t know that there’s anything you can say that has helped us be successful there as opposed to anywhere else. It’s one of Jimmie’s favorite tracks and he has taken to it well. He is comfortable there, so his communication as far as the track changes helps us a great deal. When a driver can give you that kind of feedback, it’s always helpful.”

Is doing well at Dover a good indication of who will win the championship?
“I wouldn’t say that after Dover there is a clear indication of who is going to win the championship. Things are so close right now, everyone is still in this. I’m not saying you can’t be in a better or worse spot after this race, but I just don’t know that having a good run equates to winning the championship. There’s too much racing left. It is a pivotal race in the Chase, so that’s why it’s important to run well there in the spring, obviously. Luckily, we were able to do that, so we will have good notes to work from when we start the weekend.”

- True Speed Communication for Team Lowe’s Racing

Johnson Favored to Win 2012 Dover AAA 400

Johnson is 4-to-1 favorite to sweep Dover for third time in career (Getty) 
By Micah Roberts
The Linemakers on Sporting News

Denny Hamlin made good on his called shot of winning at New Hampshire last week, but that might be the end of those kinds of predictions, especially this week at Dover. Between car owner Joe Gibbs, dating back to his NFL days, never wanting to give his opponents bulletin board material, to the fact that Hamlin has a 20.5 average finish at Dover, Hamlin should be pretty quiet, on and off the track, this week.

Hamlin may have an edge on the four 1.5-mile tracks coming up and should fare better than most at Phoenix and Martinsville, but Dover is another story. Dover is Jimmie Johnson territory. Johnson has rarely run out of the top10 at this track and has conquered it seven times over his career, including the race this past June, when he led 289 of the 400 laps.

Hamlin, on the other hand, has not performed well at Dover over his 13 career starts on the track. His best was fourth-place — one two occasions — and he has finished 36th or worse four times. He comes in on a three-race stretch of mediocrity on the track that has seen him finish 16th or worse each time.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Denny Hamlin Predicted a Win at New Hampshire, Then Does it

Denny Hamlin dominates New Hampshire for fifth win of season (Getty) 
Sporting News

Denny Hamlin predicted he would win Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and he wasted no time proving he is up to the challenge.

Hamlin cruised home to victory at Loudon in the second race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Starting 32nd on Sunday after a mistake in qualifying, Hamlin immediately began charging through the field. He cracked the top 20 on Lap 13 and was in the top 15 by Lap 30.

Hamlin and his crew said before the race they wanted to be in the top 10 by Lap 100. They were — and then some.

Hamlin cracked the top 10 shortly after a restart on Lap 46 and zoomed into fifth on Lap 57. He passed teammate Kyle Busch for the lead on Lap 94.

After finishing 16th last week at Chicago, in the first race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup, Hamlin tweeted: "This is week 1 of 10. We will win next week."

Jeff Gordon started on the pole and led until Tony Stewart passed him on Lap 4. Gordon regained the lead on pit road during a competition caution on Lap 44, but Busch passed him for the lead on the restart on Lap 46.




                Called Shot!
Hamlin called his shot before the race like Babe Ruth allegedly did in the World Series at Wrigley Field (Getty)

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Final 2012 New Hampshire Sylvania 300 Driver Ratings Following All Practices


Micah Roberts’ Top 10 Driver Ratings
Sylvania 300
New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Sunday, September 23, 2012 -  11:16 a.m. (PDT)

Rating    Driver     Odds        Practice 1   Qualified    Practice 2   Practice 3

 1. Denny Hamlin 5/1                  1st              32nd             1st              1st  
2007 winner; track best 8.5 average finish; best average lap speed in final practice.
 2. Clint Bowyer 12/1                   9th             12th              7th              7th 
Two-time winner, using winning Richmond chassis from two weeks ago.
 3. Jeff Gordon 10/1                    2nd              1st               9th             15th  
Three-time winner, the last in 1998; best 10-consecutive lap average in Practice2.
 4. Kyle Busch 10/1                    18th              2nd              5th              4th 
2006 winner; great practices and good candidate to win based on April Richmond win.
 5. Tony Stewart 7/1                    4th               3rd             10th             8th 
Three-time winner, including last fall; using new chassis that tested at Milwaukee.
 6. Kevin Harvick 15/1                 5th              16th             8th               9th 
2006 winner; one of two drivers to average 130 mph in final practice; new chassis.
 7. Jimmie Johnson 5/1               8th              20th             3rd             10th 
Three-time winner, the last in 2010; using seventh-place chassis from July race.
 8. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 10/1         25th             14th            17th            11th 
Best finish of third in 2004; using same chassis that finished fourth in July race.
 9. Kasey Kahne 8/1                    6th               6th             13th            19th 
2012 winner; not a standout in practices, but is using winning chassis from July.
10. Brad Keselowski 7/1             20th             15th            14th            17th 
Has finished runner-up and fifth in past two starts on track; new car this week.

Note: New Hampshire’s 1.058-mile flat banked track runs similar to Richmond and Phoenix. Drivers that do well on one usually fare well on the others.

Odds courtesy of the LVH Super Book.

Micah Roberts, a former sports book director, has been setting NASCAR lines in Las Vegas since 1995. For more Roberts insights on the race, go to The Linemakers on SportingNews.com or follow on Twitter: MicahRoberts7. 

Betting Notes
And the Denny Hamlin show continues to roll through town after town. He’s been so good in practices, it’s hard to believe that he hasn’t won more races. The only problem Hamlin will have to deal with Sunday is traffic as a result of his qualifying gaffe, which starts him 32nd. Barring any run-ins with the other 31 drivers he’ll be trying to pass, he should find himself within the top-5 by half-time.

It’s no fun betting on the favorite, so taking a shot with Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon seems like a pretty game plan. I also think Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Brian Vickers present some value as well, not only in odds to win wagers, but also matchups.

Another driver that may be worth taking a shot with in matchups is Jeff Burton. The RCR cars have all been much better over the past month and at one point, no one was better at New Hampshire than Burton.

Friday, September 21, 2012

New Hampshire Practice Notes: Hamlin Sweeps Every Practice Session

Denny Hamlin fastest in all three practice sessions (Getty)
By Micah Roberts

Denny Hamlin completed the rare triple sweep during practices this weekend at New Hampshire by being the fastest in all three sessions. Hamlin's fast lap at 132.053 mph in the last half of the final 60-minute session was good enough to pass teammate Joey Logano for the top slot.

There is no cash reward or trophy for being fastest during the sessions, just the peace of mind knowing that none of the 42 cars are as fast. For Hamlin, dominating the practices couldn't have come at a better time because of the pressure he placed upon himself following a disappointing Chicago race by tweeting, "This is 1 week of 10. We will win next week." So far, so good.

Hamlin will have to start Sunday's Sylvania 300 from the 32nd position because of an error in the qualifying setup Friday, but should have no problem making up the ground. We've seen him do well on the similar flat tracks this season at Richmond and Phoenix, and in the July New Hampshire race, he led 150 laps and finished runner-up.

Not surprisingly, the top speeds during Saturday's practices came from the Toyotas when every driver from the teams of Michael Waltrip and Joe Gibbs Racing finished in the top seven. In the four races this year at Richmond, Phoenix and New Hampshire, three were won from a driver within those stables.


New Hampshire Practice 3 Speeds 



Hamlin Fastest Again in Second Session, Gordon looks Strong

By Micah Roberts

Denny Hamlin laid down the fastest lap during Saturday’s early practice session at New Hampshire with a top speed of 131.656 mph. Hamlin was fastest in Friday’s lone session while in qualifying trim, but when it was his turn to qualify as one of the favorites to win the pole, Hamlin’s team didn’t have the correct set-up and he’ll start Sunday’s race 32nd. He has a lot of ground to make up, but should take comfort in the fact that his car is real fast.

Joey Logano was second fastest in the session, followed by Jimmie Johnson, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch .One of Logano’s two career wins came at New Hampshire in 2009. Johnson is a three-time winner at New Hampshire.

All three Joe Gibbs racing cars finished in the top-5 during the session. When adding sixth fastest Brian Vickers and seventh fastest Clint Bowyer, we have six of the seven fastest cars being Toyota’s.

Jeff Gordon was ninth fastest during the session, but had the fastest 10-consecutive lap average showing signs that his good run on the similar track of Richmond two weeks ago may come into play this week. Bowyer and Logano were next best in the 10-consecutive lap category.

Aric Almirola ran the most laps (39) of the 60-minute session while finishing with the 20th fastest lap.



Hamlin Fastest in Friday's Practice Session

By Micah Roberts

Jeff Gordon won the pole Friday (Getty)
Denny Hamlin tweeted to the world following the disappointment of last weeks 16th-place finish, "This is 1 week of 10. We will win next week."

During Friday’s first practice session in preparation for Sunday’s Sylvania 300, he took the first step in backing up his words by laying down the fastest lap. Hamlin’s speed of 134.820 mph was in qualifying trim, which should make him one of favorites to win Friday’s pole, but it also keeps him as the favorite to win Sunday’s race, just as he said he would.

We don’t see many NASCAR drivers make statements like Hamlin did last week just because it’s so hard to make good with so many different things occurring that are out of the drivers control. It’s surely harder than calling a home run in baseball, as Babe Ruth allegedly did the World Series at Wrigley Field, and it might rest below The Jets beating the Colts as 17-point underdogs in Super Bowl III, but whatever the case is, I’m loving it.

It’s a long Chase with nine races to go, but I like that Hamlin is psyching himself out and setting himself up with some lofty goals. The thing about it, though, is that he’s not really going out on a limb. He is the driver to beat at New Hampshire, as his 8.5 average finish attests to. And despite being listed as the third choice to win the Chase in recent Vegas odds, he’s still got the best skill-set/past preformance combination of car, driver and crew chief among all the drivers at the remaining nine tracks.

So maybe even as great a home run hitter as the Bambino was, hitting a called home run might have been more difficult than Hamlin winning at New Hampshire this week. And in Ruth‘s case, it‘s debatable if it even happened, as some baseball historians have discounted the feat as a fable.

Jeff Gordon was second fastest in the 90-minute session at 134.174 mph, followed by Regan Smith, Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick.

Because we have two more practice sessions Saturday, and most of the top times were from drivers in qualifying trim, I don’t put much weight into today’s session, other than acknowledging drivers who were fast in single lap times. Only two drivers ran at least 10 consecutive laps.

The average speeds are distorted because some drivers ran as high as 39 laps like Brian Vickers -- who I like this week, while others contending, such as Brad Keselowski, ran only 11 laps.

I’ll have a full run-down Saturday with what drivers I thought looked most impressive.

New Hampshire Practice 1 Speeds


Gordon on Pole at New Hampshire - Starting Lineup

DENNY HAMLIN ON WHAT HAPPENED DURING HIS QUALIFYING LAP (STARTS 32ND): “I knew something was wrong. It looked like we just — we ended up having race pressures and we didn’t put our qualifying pressures in, so that was a tough one. I knew something was really, really wrong because we were just — the car was bobbing down real bad — but simple mistake. We’ll rebound from it. We’re quick enough. We’ll get them, but that’s frustrating. Holy cow — I knew something had to be wrong. If there was nothing wrong than I would really be shaking my head. At least we identified what the problem was.”

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

2012 New Hampshire Sylvania 300 Preview

Kasey Kahne won the July New Hampshire race (Getty)
By Micah Roberts
VegasInsider.com

Brad Keselowski took his first step to winning a Championship by winning at Chicago last week -- his fourth win of the season -- and the LVH Super Book took the win very seriously chopping his odds to win the title in half, from 8-to-1, down to 4-to-1.

Jimmie Johnson, who finished second at Chicago, remains the favorite to win it all and was dropped from 5-to-2 down to 2-to-1. The five-time Champion has now finished runner-up three times during his seven races on 1.5-mile tracks, but still doesn’t have a win any on them yet. He’ll have four more shots on them in the next nine races.

The thing you have to like about Johnson is that he went out on a limb a few weeks ago by saying his goal was to win eight championships, the mark that would pass Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty, both of whom are tied for the all-time NASCAR Championship lead at seven wins. It was very un-Johnson-like to make such a claim, but I kind of dug it. We usually have this vanilla impression of Johnson being the corporate-type, but when you think about, he's really got no more goals to achieve in NASCAR except setting all-time marks.

The next task for the drivers is to take on New Hampshire and there are a few of the Chase drivers that will have a bit of an edge over the others. We can use past races held at Phoenix and Richmond as a good reference to find out who might do well this week, along with using the first New Hampshire race held on July 15.

All three tracks have different layouts, and aren’t even the same size, but they are all one-mile or less and are relatively flat. Drivers that do well on one usually do well on the other because crew chiefs use the same set-ups for each, and sometimes use the exact same chassis at all three.

Two weeks ago we saw Clint Bowyer win at Richmond and it’s no coincidence that he is a two-time winner at New Hampshire. In the first race held there in July, Bowyer finished third behind eventual winner Kasey Kahne and runner-up Denny Hamlin. This week, Bowyer will be using the exact same chassis that he won with at Richmond.

Hamlin, surprisingly, didn’t fare well at Richmond two weeks ago, but he was one of the best on these types of tracks all season. He won at Phoenix in March and was fourth in the first Richmond race held in April. He hasn’t won at New Hampshire since 2007, but has finished runner-up on three separate occasions and has a track best 8.5 average finish in 13 starts.

Hamlin has an uphill battle to climb after finishing 16th last week, running out of fuel on the last lap. But because of having several tracks of the nine remaining in the Chase, Hamlin should be able to make up the deficit quite easily. He's currently 9-to-2 to win the Chase and still the best value on the board.

Keselowski has finished fifth and runner-up in his last two New Hampshire starts and becomes even more of a candidate to win this week based on what he’s done on similar tracks, which includes a fifth-place finish at Phoenix. His team gave him a brand new chassis last week at Chicago and it was awesome. This week, he gets another new car that has never seen track time, and similar results wouldn't be a shock. We saw Tony Stewart win two in a row to start the Chase last season, so why not Keselowski?

As for Stewart, we can't forget about him. His win last fall at New Hampshire was his third in 27 starts to go along with 11 other top-5 finishes. He finished fourth two weeks ago at Richmond and third in the spring Richmond race, which should have him well prepared for Loudon's flat track this week.

Last year, The Stewart-Haas team swept New Hampshire with Ryan Newman winning in the spring. It was Newman's third career win at Loudon, and while he hasn't fared as well on these type of tracks this season, it should be noted that he will be using the exact same car from last years win. The car also won at Martinsville in 2010.

Newman isn't in the Chase, but can't be discounted because of it. The same goes for Kyle Busch who has to be considered a candidate because of winning at Richmond in the spring.

Jimmie Johnson is a three-time winner at New Hampshire, but hasn’t been his normal dominant self on these types of tracks this season. His only top-5 finish in the four races was at Phoenix in March. But with him being on a mission for another Championship, a top-3 finish would seem appropriate.

Jeff Gordon has won at New Hampshire three times over his career, but none since 1998. He’s finished runner-up multiple times since then and has finished 15th or better in his last 14 starts. The biggest reason to maybe support Gordon this week is that he was super strong at Richmond two weeks ago in the race he fought so hard to get runner-up and make the Chase.

Top-5 Finish Prediction:
1) #11 Denny Hamlin (7/1)
2) #15 Clint Bowyer (14/1)
3) #2 Brad Keselowski (12/1)
4) #14 Tony Stewart (8/1)
5) #48 Jimmie Johnson (6/1)

VIDEO: Roberts talks Chase and New Hampshire

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

2012 New Hampshire Sylvania 300 Driver Notes & Quotes

Newman a contender this week using winning chassis from 2011 (Getty)
RYAN NEWMAN ON LOUDON: “I think the track is the key when it comes to being aggressive and patient all at the same time. There is a different style of driving that you have to have there. You can’t really be overaggressive at that racetrack. It’s kind of a combination of patience and aggressiveness. You want to take what the car will give you because the track is flat. With banking, the faster you go, the more it pushes the car down into the racetrack. We don’t have that there, so it’s just a matter of feeling that razor-blade-edge of grip and getting everything you can and I’ve been successful at it there. It’s kind of clicked with me since the beginning. I really like the racetrack and obviously know how to drive it, which is a big part of it. It’s a good place to start up front because it’s a short race, and it’s not the easiest place to pass.”

NEWMAN CHASSIS CHOICE: With one start already this season, Chassis No. 39-645 is no stranger to victory lane. In its first start in 2012, Newman drove this chassis to the winner’s circle at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Newman won despite falling one lap down early in the race after receiving a penalty for speeding on pit road. And, once he got back on the lead lap, Newman took advantage of every spot in front of him. He took his first – and only – lead of the day on lap 504 of 515, when he dove under the leaders after they collided in turn one. He held off another driver on the final restart in a tough duel before pulling away on the last lap to win. The chassis also earned a 10th-place finish at New Hampshire Motor
Speedway in Loudon in July. The chassis made four starts last year – two at Martinsville and two at New Hampshire.

This chassis was also the race winner for Newman last July in Loudon, when Newman started on the pole and led 119 of 301 laps en route to his third victory at the track. In five total starts, chassis No. 39-645 has two victories, two poles (both at New Hampshire last year) and three top-10 finishes.

TONY STEWART ON LOUDON: “It just has long, sweeping corners. The corners in comparison to where we normally race, we’re used to having a lot of banking, but New Hampshire is pretty flat. It’s one of those tracks where you’re either fighting entry-loose, entry-exit and nice in the center, or you’re fighting tight in the center and you’re good on entry and good on exit. It’s a juggling act trying to get the car balanced for all three sections of the corner.”

JIMMIE JOHNSON ON LOUDON: “It’s tough because the balance when you have clean air and the whole race track to yourself you need a racecar to drive a certain way. When you get in traffic you need the car to turn a lot stronger to run a tighter radius and inside of someone. It’s tough to blend those two worlds. That is the thing we fight so much is we work in practice running by ourselves. You get in the race you are rarely by yourself then trying to find a way to make your car work in traffic.”

KASEY KAHNE ON LOUDON: “It feels really good to go back to New Hampshire during the Chase. The win in July was a big turning point for the team and should give everyone some more confidence this weekend. I think we found a good setup for thecar last time, so we should have a good place to start from when we unload.”

DALE EARNHARDT, JR. ON LOUDON: “New Hampshire kind of lends itself to the short track mentality and that style of racing. I enjoy racing at short tracks, have a great track record at all the short tracks we run at. I feel like that’s a bit in my wheelhouse, and this place sort of fits toward that.”

JEFF GORDON ON LOUDON: “It was a disappointing result (in Chicago), but we had a fast race car. We had a great run from 19th to inside the top five, and I would have liked to have seen if we had anything for them at the end, but we’ll put that event behind us and focus on trying to win Loudon this weekend. There is still a long way to go.”

“I really enjoy racing here. It’s not an easy place to get around, though, with the long straightaways, flat corners and hard braking. Recently, we have led laps, run well and been in position to win. We just need to put ourselves in that position again and capitalize on it.”

KURT BUSCH, NO. 51 PHOENIX CONSTRUCTION CHEVROLET – 26th IN STANDINGS:
“New Hampshire is a track that has been pretty good to me since I started racing in the top series of this sport. I raced there for the first time in the Truck Series and won that race. Then it’s a track where I have three wins in the Cup cars and, when you’re able to go to a track where you’ve had that kind of success, it just gives you that confidence. Because of the wins and everything, it’s a place we go to where I feel like I especially know what it takes from the car and the driver to be successful.”

KEVIN HARVICK ON KEY TO LOUDON: “The hardest thing is just making your car turn in the middle of the corner and being able to have enough forward drive off the corners. 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.”

HARVICK CHASSIS CHOICE: Kevin Harvick will pilot Chassis No.400 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend’s SYLVANIA 300. Built new for competition during the 2012 season, this RCR Chevrolet will make its first competitive laps this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

JEFF BURTON ON LOUDON: “New Hampshire Motor Speedway is a very challenging track. It’s one of those places where if you are off a little bit, it shows a lot on the leaderboard. There is a fine line between being really good and not very good. It’s definitely a tough race track. The car must turn in the middle of the corners at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Rear grip has become less of an issue since we first started racing there. When we first started going there, rear grip was everything. If you could accelerate off the corner before your competitor, you were in good shape. Throughout the years, that has really changed. You must rotate in the middle of the corners. If it doesn’t rotate, your lap times will suffer. To me, rotation in the middle of the corners is the most important key to being strong.”

BURTON CHASSIS CHOICE: Jeff Burton will race Chassis No. 382 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable this weekend. This No. 31 Chevrolet was utilized in February at Phoenix International Raceway where engine issues thwarted Burton’s top-five run and relegated him to a 33rd-place finish. This was car also raced at Richmond International Raceway in May where an on-track incident knocked Burton and the No. 31 team out of contention, forcing them to settle for a 31st-place finish. Most recently, Burton piloted this machine to a 21st-place finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July and he notched a top-10 finish at RIR two weeks ago, finishing sixth.

PAUL MENARD ON LOUDON: “We had our best race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway when we were there in July of this year, and we still weren’t where we needed to be. At New Hampshire you need to find the right package. You’re hard on the brakes there. The track is flat with tight corners and long straightaways. You need to have the right setup on the car in order to get down the straightaways and through the corners.”

MENARD CHASSIS CHOICE: Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 349 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend’s SYLVANIA 300. This Chevrolet was raced earlier this season at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (July) where Menard finished 17th and Martinsville Speedway in April where he finished 26th.

JAMIE MCMURRAY ON LOUDON: “New Hampshire will be an exciting weekend for us. We will have LiftMaster on board as the primary sponsor for the No. 1 car this weekend. It seems like forever ago that we announced in January at media day that LiftMaster would be on the car for this race. We will look to improve on our 20th-place finish from the race in July. We had a decent car, but with some long green-flag runs in that first race it made it difficult to make any major adjustments without losing too much time on pit road. I enjoy racing on flat tracks like New Hampshire, so hopefully we can have a good result for LiftMaster and all our partners.”

McMURRAY CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew Chief Kevin “Bono” Manion and the No. 1 LiftMaster® team will use Chassis #1008 for Loudon. Chassis #1008 has been used previously this season at Richmond finishing 22nd.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA ON LOUDON: “To tell you the truth, New Hampshire was terrible for the Target team earlier this year. It was a tough race; we never had a decent car to balance. If you have a good car to start out with you’ll have a good car all weekend. It’s a matter of how well prepared you are when you get there. We’ve done a little bit of testing before we go there so hopefully we found some new things to help us run better this time around.”

MONTOYA CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew Chief Chris “Shine” Heroy and the No. 42 Energizer team will travel to Loudon with Chassis #1110. This chassis was used during several tests, but will make its race debut this weekend in Loudon.

MARCOS AMBROSE CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 9 RPM team has prepared chassis No. 728 for this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire. This Stanley Ford has only been used as a backup car and has not seen primary race action this season.

GREG BIFFLE ON LOUDON: “I’m looking forward to Loudon; it’s been a good track for us. I have a win there and I feel like it’s a track where we can get back into the hunt. We certainly aren’t out of it, but a good run will help. Hopefully we can get a good top-five finish or a win in our 3M Ford this weekend.”

BIFFLE CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-822 Last ran Richmond – finished 9th; Backup: RK-778 Last ran New Hampshire – finished 9th

MATT KENSETH ON LOUDON: “New Hampshire is a really challenging track because it’s a one-mile track that drives like a flat short track. It seems like you’re always fighting for position there because the track is so narrow that it’s difficult to pass, so we really rely on good pit stops to help gain positions. Loudon has been a place that I’ve struggled at but our goal is to get a good clean run on Sunday in order to make up some of our position in the point standings that we lost last weekend at Chicago.”

KENSETH CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary: RK-806 (last run at Richmond)

CARL EDWARDS ON LOUDON: “This track is big for us because it’s the home of the Red Sox and our partnership with Fenway Sports Group so it would be a huge honor to be able to win there for them. Qualifying is very important. Everyone is going to be pulling out all the stops, doing every strategy trick they can and I think having a good pit stall will be important, starting up front and having clean air. If there’s a long green-flag run, you don’t want to be mired in the back going a lap down. All of that stuff comes from a good qualifying effort.”

EDWARDS CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 99 Aflac team will be bringing RK-815 this weekend to New Hampshire. This carpreviously ran both Pocono races finishing 11th and seventh, and Darlington where Edwards finished seventh.

BRAD KESELOWSKI ON LEADING IN POINTS: “The points lead is nice. It means we won the first race in a 10-race playoff format. But that’s really about all. I refuse to let it sink in because there is so much work left to be done. We need to keep our eyes looking forward. I’m going to focus on the next nine races and I know everyone on the Miller Lite Dodge team is going to do the same. It would be a disservice to Sunday’s win if we allow our focus to get away from tomorrow’s workload.”

KESELOWSKI ON LOUDON: “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 racingthat we put on at New Hampshire sometimes gets 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 is a lot of beating and banging going on and the fans love to watch it unfold. Loudon has been an underrated track for us over the last couple of years. I think we can run well there again and keep the points lead.”

KESELOWSKI CHASSIS CHOICE: The No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Chargerteam will race chassis PRS-829 during Sunday’s Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS). This is a new chassis to the No. 2 fleet.

SAM HORNISH JR ON LOUDON: “In the first Loudon race, we really didn’t know what we wanted or needed in the car going into the race. It was really my first full-blown opportunity back in a Cup car in quite a while. The Nationwide cars and the Cup carsare different and I had not had the opportunity yet to get a good grasp on the transition. During that race, we struggled with the car being really free on entry and that plagued us the whole race.

CLINT BOWYER ON LOUDON: ”I look at the short tracks and think the best opportunity to win races is on those short tracks. We did okay in Chicago, not great, but just okay. New Hampshire — we have a pretty damn good roll going to New Hampshire. I think we can win at New Hampshire and get things started off right. If we can do that and keep this buzz going at MWR (Michael Waltrip Racing), I think we can compete. The 1.5 mile tracks, I’ve never won on one of those, I know that and everybody else does. I have to pick up my game on the 1.5 mile tracks — but we’ve been running better than I ever have with these MWR cars on that type of track. I think if I ever could win on those, it would be in the Chase in the last 10 races. If I can do that with the success I have on the short tracks, again we can be a force to be reckoned with.”

BOWYER CHASSIS CHOICE: Primary chassis No. 718 won and was pushed to victory lane in Richmond on Sept. 8. The same car also started fifth, finished third and led a lap at New Hampshire in the Spring. Backup chassis No. 712 raced earlier this season in Phoenix and Richmond.

MARTIN TRUEX JR ON LOUDON: “New Hampshire hasn’t been one of my best tracks since joining Michael Waltrip Racing. I don’t know why. We’ve struggled a little bit. In the spring race, we had a decent run and showed some gains. It is a tough track to get a hold of. It’s almost impossible to get your car to turn in the corners and the tires chatter. It’s the same for everyone, it is just a matter of being smarter. I feel like we are taking some new stuff back there and our NAPAToyota should be a whole lot better. Hopefully, we can go there and continue to run up front like we have been doing lately. It’s a place that has always been special for me. I enjoy going there so I hope I can keep our momentum going and have a strong run.”

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