Tuesday, July 9, 2013

New Hampshire Storylines: 2013 Camping World RV Sales 301

Kasey Kahne won at New Hamsphire last July
Seven down; one to go.

New Hampshire Motor Speedway, host to Sunday’s Camping World RV Sales 301 (1 p.m. EDT TNT, Performance Racing Network Radio, SIRIUSXM Radio), is the eighth and final stop during the regular season at a track that also hosts a race in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™.

Advantage; so far, no one.

Seven different drivers have taken the new, Gen-6 car to Victory Lane on Chase tracks. All but surprise Talladega winner David Ragan rank among the current top 10. The box score shows three wins by Chevrolet and two each by Ford and Toyota.

The importance of the 1.058-mile New Hampshire Motor Speedway can’t be understated. A year ago, seven of July’s top-10 finishers earned a Chase berth on points. Each member of the top 10 in points after the season’s 19th race also moved into NASCAR’s postseason.

New Hampshire’s summer race has seen eight consecutive different winners with the Granite State track minting 10 straight different winners overall. Last year’s winners – Kasey Kahne in July; Denny Hamlin in September – are outside the championship top 10. Kahne holds a potential Chase Wild Card. Hamlin is 122 points outside Wild Card eligibility with eight races remaining until the standings reset.

Kurt Busch has gone from a points ranking of 22nd in late April to ninth following a sixth-place finish at Daytona. Busch’s No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet team never had seated a top-10 driver since making its NASCAR Sprint Cup debut in 2005. Busch has three New Hampshire victories including a 2004 championship season sweep.

Elliott Sadler won the first $100,000 bonus in Nationwide’s Dash 4 Cash program. He will go for his second consecutive bonus Saturday afternoon in the CNBC Prime the Profit 200 (3:30 p.m. EDT ABC, Performance Racing Network Radio, SIRIUSXM Radio). Joining him in competing for the cash are Austin Dillon, Kyle Larson and Sam Hornish Jr.

Although an eighth-place finish at Daytona is pretty strong, NASCAR Nationwide Series points leader Regan Smith still saw his points lead cut into. Sam Hornish Jr. inched closer to Smith by finishing one spot in front of him, closing the lead from eight points to six. The top six drivers are only separated by 42 points.

Chase Elliott is a part-time driver in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series – but not by design. At age 17, Elliott is ineligible to compete on oval tracks over a mile in length. The son of 1988 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Bill Elliot returns for Saturday night’s American Ethanol 200 (8:30 p.m. EDT SPEED, Motor Racing Network Radio, SIRIUSXM Radio) at the .875-mile Iowa Speedway boasting a rookie record-matching average finish of 5.0 in his first three starts at Martinsville, Rockingham and Dover

Ryan Blaney enjoyed a record-setting night the last time the trucks raced at Iowa Speedway becoming the youngest winner in series history in just his third career start. Blaney ranks sixth in series points behind Matt Crafton, the 2011 Iowa Speedway winner.


Granite State Success In July Carries Into September

New Hampshire Motor Speedway is the eighth track on the schedule that appears in both the regular season and the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™. Success in July portends success in September. In 2012, seven drivers posted top-10 finishes in both New Hampshire events. A year ago, nine of the top-10 finishers in July’s race made the Chase, the exception being Ryan Newman. Last year’s top 10 in the standings following race No. 19 all made the Chase on points.

New Hampshire Motor Speedway Mints Different Winners
Beginning in 2005, the Camping World RV Sales 301 has been won by eight different drivers. Kasey Kahne is the defending winner. The track boasts the current longest streak of different winners – 10 – dating to 2008. Four competitors have won the track’s July race during a championship season: Jimmie Johnson (2010), Tony Stewart (2005), Kurt Busch (2004) and Jeff Gordon (1995).

Furniture Row Racing, Busch Join NASCAR Sprint Cup Elite
Furniture Row Racing, the single-car Chevrolet team located in Denver, Colo., has placed a driver in the top 10 for the first time. Kurt Busch jumped to ninth place in the standings following a sixth-place finish in Saturday’s Coke Zero 400. Busch has four top-10 finishes in his most recent five races. Busch was ranked 22nd as recently as 10 races ago. The former NASCAR Sprint Cup champion has won three times in New Hampshire including a season sweep in 2004

New Hampshire Might Be Hamlin’s Chase Last Stand
Denny Hamlin’s fast-fading hope of salvaging a Chase Wild Card most likely hinges upon Sunday’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Hamlin finished second in last year’s summer race and returned in September to claim his second victory at the 1.058-mile layout. The Virginian’s performance at NHMS was dominant to say the least. He led 343 of 601 laps with Driver Ratings of 141.2 and 149.2, respectively. Hamlin’s average finish at New Hampshire is 7.9.

Points Runner-Up Bowyer Likely New Hampshire Contender
Clint Bowyer’s season has come full circle from where the driver of the No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota ended last year’s campaign. Bowyer ranks second in the standings, 49 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson. The Kansan is one of just three drivers among the current top 10 without a victory and potential Chase bonus points when the standings reset for the postseason. Bowyer won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire in September 2007. He enjoyed a solid 2012 at the track with finishes of third and fourth. Other drivers currently in the top 10 without a 2013 win are Dale Earnhardt Jr. (fifth) and Kurt Busch (ninth).

Statistics Say Stewart Will Strengthen Top-10 Hold This Week
Daytona, not surprisingly, scrambled the Chase Wild Card picture. Tony Stewart’s second-place finish took the three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion from potential Wild Card to 10th in the standings. Martin Truex fell out of the top 10 (11th) but holds the first Wild card. Kasey Kahne went from Wild Card No. 1 to Wild Card No. 2 (12th). While Stewart’s hold on 10th place is tenuous – six points – Smoke will work from a position of strength. Over the past eight races, Stewart holds the track’s top Average Driver Rating of 111.7 and most laps led (887/18.6%). He counts three victories among 10 top-three finishes overall at NHMS.


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