Wednesday, June 30, 2010

COKE ZERO 400 Notes & Quotes From Daytona International Speedway

DENNY HAMLIN ON HOW HIS DAYTONA RESULTS DON'T TELL THE WHOLE STORY: “Not at all, and especially recently. Across the teams at JGR, all of us have improved over the past two plus years and we’ve seen huge improvements and now we go to places like Talladega and Daytona and feel like we can be dominant. Taking that dominant car and making it a race winning car is the hard part. So much at Daytona is out of your control so all we can do as a team is put the right car on the track, find help on the track, don’t hurt yourself on pit road and hope for a little luck out there. Things will happen, there will be wrecks and those wrecks hardly ever include only one car so avoiding the wrecks as best you can is important.

HAMLIN ON DIFFERENCES BETWEEN DAYTONA AND TALLADEGA: “Really, I don’t even consider Daytona very much a superspeedway anymore — it’s gotten so rough. Handling is such a big thing. It’s almost like Talladega is its own beast. It’s much harder to get your setup right at Daytona versus Talladega. You go into the Talladega weekend and you pretty much consider it a weekend off for the crew guys. They never do much work on the cars. The driver is like, ‘The car is handling fine.’ At Daytona, it’s more thrashing.”

HAMLIN ON HOW HIS KNEE IS FEELING: “It’s feeling better all the time. I am working hard and making a lot of progress with my physical therapy and it’s allowing me to do more and more activity and that’s been a good thing. I still have a ways to go but it’s coming around and I think by the time we get to the end of this season, I will be even that much more comfortable. That’s been the goal all along and I feel like I am on schedule if not ahead of it.”

HAMLIN CHASSIS SELECTION: The FedEx team will unload Chassis JGR 200 this weekend in Daytona. This car has a single start to date, registering a 26th-place finish at Daytona in the summer of 2008. JGR 244 will serve as the backup this weekend – it finished 17th at Daytona in February.

RYAN NEWMAN ON THE KEY TO SUCCESS AT DAYTONA: “That’s almost like a trick question. The key to Daytona is having a good-handling racecar and good luck on the same day, which is, unfortunately, something we have not had recently here at Daytona or at any superspeedway race we have been part of over the past year –and-a-half. Unfortunately, we’ve been involved in several incidents not of our own making and we have been through a lot of cars. The guys back at the shop have worked really hard building some really solid and sturdy superspeedway racecars, and I have really put them to the test. My crew chief Tony Gibson keeps telling me that, sooner or later, our luck is going to turn around at these superspeedway races. He says that the odds are in our favor, and I sure do hope he is right because I sure would like to finish one of these races, which is something I didn’t get to do back here in February and at Talladega in April.

“But one of the most important things about Daytona is that it is very much a handling racetrack. The asphalt has really worn over the years and the bumpier and rougher the track is, the more of a challenge it is, handling-wise. That’s really something I know we will be focusing on in practice – just making sure we have a well-balanced, good-handling racecar. Even on new tires, it can be a handful. It’s fun because of that. It’s fun because it allows us to separate out and actually race, versus being stuck in a pack and hitting bumper-to-bumper and figure out who is going to get the best push. I look forward to Daytona. This weekend, it’s not so much about outright speed. Instead, it’s more about being who can handle the best. I think the new restrictor plate and the spoiler just add another element, so we’ll see what happens.”

MARTIN TRUEX JR. ON DAYTONA'S SURFACE BEING CHANGED FOLLOWING THIS RACE: "I will probably miss this surface. It’s going to go back to everybody running wide open like Talladega — three and maybe four- wide all day long in the race. It will be a good race for the fans, it will be exciting for sure. It’s going to be wild and crazy and lots of wrecks — all the stuff that we hate. I like the old surface and I think it’s just a lot more challenging as a driver. When you get the new surface, the only thing challenging is staying out of wrecks. We’ll have to see.”

KASEY KAHNE ON THE KEY TO RESTRICTOR-PLATE RACING: "You have to make the right decisions, but a lot of it is luck. You have to depend on other cars to help you get to the front. You’re really at the mercy of the cars behind you, and for whatever reason, I haven’t been able to make it work at the end and win one of these things. There are so many things out of your control when it comes to plate racing, so you better hit all the marks on everything you can control, or you can really dig yourself a hole."

KEVIN HARVICK ON CHANCES OF WINNING THIS WEEK AFTER WINNING AT TALLADEGA: “Yeah, I feel like we had a chance to win the Daytona 500 and, obviously, we have won the last two Budweiser Shootouts and we lost the qualifying race by about six inches. Daytona has been a really good race track for us, so we go there with the intentions of having a chance to win. But, it is still restrictor plate racing, so you go there and it’s still a crap shoot as far as how it all turns out.”

HARVICK CHASSIS SELECTION: Kevin Harvick will pilot Chassis No. 295 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This Chevrolet is brand new for 2010, and was used by the No. 29 team in the Daytona 500, where Harvick led seven times for 41 laps and finished seventh.

JEFF BURTON'S EXPECTATIONS AFTER RUNNING WELL IN PLATE RACES THIS YEAR: “I’ve been sitting in the Daytona 500 races in the past three years thinking I had a chance to win the race. Something ended up happening in each race and it was one thing after another. For some reason, our car didn’t handle very well in the 400-mile race. The same can be said for Talladega. Our Caterpillar Chevrolet was fast and I could put it wherever I wanted to and it would go. It was unfortunate that I got hit from behind because that ultimately ended our day. But, based on our performances at the two restrictor plate races this year, I think we’ll be really good. I have high expectations this weekend. Daytona is all about handling and if we can get the car to handle well, we’ll be in good shape.”

BURTON CHASSIS SELECTION: Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 312 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable, a brand new Chevrolet Impala that will be put through its first paces in this weekend’s Coke Zero 400.

CLINT BOWYER ON PRESSURE TO MAKE THE CHASE: “Yes, there is a ton of pressure on us right now. It’s tough getting into the top 12 and it’s hard to stay inside the top 12. Our cars are fast enough, but we need to just have it all put together. If your cars were not strong enough, we’d really be struggling. This season, our cars are fast enough, but we just need to finish.”

BOWYER ON RACING AT DAYTONA: “I’m looking forward to Daytona, but Daytona is one of those places that can either make or break you. You have to be able to realize that. You have to be able to put yourself in a situation for a good finish at the end. In order to do that, you have to take some chances, and it will get dicey. A good handling race car goes a long way for this race though. We really want to win at Daytona before they repave it, and we have one more shot at it this weekend.”

BOWYER CHASSIS SELECTION: Clint Bowyer will pilot Chassis No. 296 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This is a brand new Chevrolet Impala that will be put through its first paces this weekend.

GREG BIFFLE ON RACING AT DAYTONA: “I’ve always liked the night race at Daytona. My first ever Sprint Cup win was this race in 2003 so it’s definitely a race on the schedule that means something to me and that I look forward to. Racing at Daytona under the lights adds a little extra excitement I think for both the drivers and the fans. We could definitely use a good finish and we need to avoid a bad finish at all costs. We’re getting a little too close to the Chase to have many more bad races. We had a good run there in February and could have had the win I think without the last green/white/checker restart. I’m ready to go back there and get the finish we should have had in the Daytona 500.”

BIFFLE CREW CHIEF GREG ERWIN ON THEIR CHASSIS DAYTONA SELECTION: “We’re taking the car we finished third with in the Daytona 500 and we hope we can run that well with it again this weekend. Working on the car at Daytona can also be difficult because NASCAR has so many limitations on what you can change there. It is an impound race so we’ll be focusing on race setup throughout practice and I expect the same from the other points contenders. We need to finish this race and get the best possible finish we can out of it.”

MATT KENSETH ON RACING AT DAYTONA: “In order to be successful at Daytona you really need to have a good combination of speed and drafting, along with a car that handles well overall. Handling is so important at Daytona especially with how hot and slick the race track usually tends to be when we race there in July. I’m really looking for a great run for our Jeremiah Weed team this weekend and Daytona is a place where we’ve been able to earn some decent finishes in the past.”

KENSETH CHASSIS SELECTION: Primary chassis RK-678 last ran in the 2010 Daytona 500 finishing eighth.

CARL EDWARDS ON RACING AT DAYTONA: “I know a lot can happen at Daytona. The past three July races there have been good for us, so hopefully I can keep the Subway Ford out of trouble and finish up front. Last year we went there with a car that could win and good race strategy and ended up fourth. We’re bringing a new Ford Fusion that should be pretty good, so I’m expecting good things. We’re getting down to the final few races before the Chase, so a strong finish and more importantly a win would be huge.”

EDWARDS CHASSIS SELECTION: Primary chassis RK-692 is a brand new car that has never raced.

JAMIE McMURRAY CHASSIS SELECTION: Chassis #1002 will make its debut this weekend at Daytona International Speedway. The chassis served as the backup at the Daytona 500 in February.

JUAN PABLO MONTOYA CHASSIS SELCTION: The Target team will bring Chassis #1010 to Daytona International Speedway this weekend. This is a brand new chassis.

ROBERTS NASCAR NOTES on Radio - Friday at 1:15 pm (PDT)
Be sure to listen to my Post Practice report and preview for each race on Prime Sports Network following the final practice sessions three hours after happy hour. Listen live or at your leisure; all shows are archived. Host Greg DePalma and I will review each of the top drivers and steer you in a direction you should be going based on past/recent history along with critical practice information for your NASCAR Fantasy teams or wagers.

Kyle Busch Looking For Third Win of 2010 and Second Overall at Daytona

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (June 30, 2010) – The Interstate All Battery Center logos will be prominently featured on Kyle Busch’s No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
For the talented 25-year-old, it might be a very fitting theme. Interstate All Battery Centers have “every battery for every need,” and those franchisees, along with all the Interstate dealers and distributors from across the country and the world, have come to learn that Busch is the embodiment of “every driver for every type of racetrack.”
This week he’ll look to get his second victory at one of the biggest of them all, the 2.5-mile superspeedway oval at Daytona.
As Interstate All Battery Centers have batteries from the smallest of the small to the biggest of the big, Busch has won at all sorts of tracks, from small to large and everything in between. While some drivers excel at one particular type of track, Busch has proven he is capable of winning at each and every type of circuit on the schedule, from the half-mile bullrings to huge restrictor-plate tracks like Daytona.
In fact, of his 18 career Sprint Cup victories, 14 of those have come at different racetracks. A closer look reveals that Busch has won multiple times on the short tracks at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. He’s also captured multiple wins at the 1-mile Dover (Del.) International Speedway, and one win apiece on the flat 1-mile New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon and Phoenix International Raceway. He’s also won on the tricky 1.33-mile, egg-shaped oval at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.
Want a driver who can win on the 1.5-mile or 2-mile high-speed ovals? Busch is also your man. He has scored victories at the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., the 1.5-mile ovals at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., and his hometown Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Want a road-course ringer? No problem there, either. Busch captured both road course Sprint Cup wins in 2008 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., and Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, respectively.
Finally, want a driver who can win on the biggest of the big. Busch has done that, as well. He has 2008 wins at the 2.66-mile Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and the aforementioned win, in Interstate Batteries colors, at the 2.5-mile Daytona oval two years ago this weekend.
So, with Busch getting some extra backing from Interstate All Battery Center locations ( across all 50 states, Canada, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic, he knows they have every battery for every need, and that he is their driver for just about every racetrack.
KYLE BUSCH: Driver, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry at Daytona International Speedway
Does your approach at Daytona change from the Daytona 500 to the Coke Zero 400?
“No, not really. Your strategy doesn’t change a whole lot. Forty laps, I think, is the distance change. It’s not a lot – just one pit stop – so you have a little bit shorter time there. The other thing you deal with is just the track conditions being the way they are and the summertime with it being so hot and slick. It tends to have the races kind of run a little bit more strung out than is typical in February. This is the last race on that surface of the racetrack in Daytona. I will miss it. Hopefully, some of the other drivers will, too. We’ve got to make the racing surface right so we don’t have another problem like we did in the 500. I’m looking forward to it and hope we can have one more good run there before they repave it and it races a lot like Talladega. I haven’t been able to get Interstate Batteries in victory lane in a while, so I hope we can for Norm (Miller, Interstate Chairman) and the Interstate All Battery stores.”
Of your 18 Sprint Cup wins, 14 of them have been at different racetracks. What has made you so good at every kind of racetrack?
“A lot of it has to do with just good equipment from Joe Gibbs Racing. The more experience I get on these racetracks, the more I learn. Pocono used to be one of my worst tracks, but Dave (Rogers, crew chief) and everyone at JGR gave me a really good car there a few weeks ago and we finished second. Whether it’s a test or a race, I learn something new every weekend. I learned a lot about Pocono from tire testing with my truck there and to finish second to Denny (Hamlin), who is so good there. It was a really good day. As far as restrictor-plate racing goes, we have good cars, but I think everyone knows you have to put yourself in a position to win at those tracks and hope you pick the right lane and drafting partner at the end. At Daytona in February, we had a pretty good car, but we got caught in the slower, bottom lane for those last restarts and we just couldn’t go anywhere.”
Do you think the new spoiler has been the reason for so many race winners this year?
“I think it’s just purely circumstance. I don’t think there’s really a lot to it. Unfortunately, there haven’t been more winners, but I wish my name was up there a little bit more often than what it is. We’ve had some good learning experiences going from the wing to the spoiler, and we’ve got, hopefully, some more to go, still. That will always change the action, anyway. Some guys might pick up on something and be really, really fast, and then you’re chasing them. We just have to play it out and keep trying to race.”
Are you more concerned with the amount of bonus points other drivers have going into the Chase, as well as your preparation for the Chase?
“If you could have everything, you want both. You want to be prepared, you want to be ready to go, but you also want to have as many bonus points as you can. You would want to go in there with a big lead, somewhat similar to what I had in 2008. Jimmie (Johnson) is always going to be right there with you. He’s got four wins, and Denny (Hamlin) has five. Those guys are pretty close. We’ve got two, a couple of other guys have one, some have none. The bonus points can mean a lot when it comes down to it, or depending on how you run through the Chase, they can mean nothing. If you peak at the right time and you win five out of the last 10, then, boom, you’ve got a big advantage going through the Chase.”
You’ve got the Interstate All Battery Center paint scheme this weekend. Since they’re best known for having every battery for every need, what’s the one battery-powered device you can’t live without?
“That’s a no-brainer. I couldn’t live without my cell phone. I’m always checking my e-mail and texting, so I run through a lot of batteries just by doing that. We forget how many things we use every day that use batteries, so it’s nice to have an Interstate All Battery Center around the corner. I visited the All Battery Center convention earlier this year, and I got a lot of encouragement from all the franchisees who were there. We’d really like to get Interstate Batteries back in victory lane this weekend at Daytona.”

Kyle Busch Press Release from True Speed Communications

Several Candidates to Win Saturday's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona; Might Be Junior's Turn

By Micah Roberts

For the NASCAR bettor, there is nothing more exhilarating than seeing fair odds listed by a sportsbook on a race with a theoretic hold of less than 30% -- well, maybe actually winning is better, but the fair odds treatment gets my juices flowing before the event even starts. That’s why I was beaming on Tuesday when I saw the odds released by the Las Vegas Hilton Super Book for this week’s race at Daytona; no driver was listed at lower than 10/1.

The three co-favorites this week at 10/ 1 are Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart, and Kevin Harvick with four others listed at 12/1, and then three others at 15/1 before getting into the 20 to 1 range. There is a lot of value this week, but unlike most of the non-restrictor plate races this season, it truly is a crap shoot which is why the generous odds are plentiful.

What a transition we have seen in restrictor plate races in just a mere two seasons. For almost a decade, the restrictor plate races offered some of the lowest odds on the favorites because they became so predictable -- almost more so than road course races with Jeff Gordon when he was dominating. Between the run DEI had with Dale Earnhardt Jr and Michael Waltrip and Hendrick Motorsports with Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and even Brian Vickers, it was fairly easy to predict which led to the odds being very short.

You could pretty much just pick a Chevy to win at Daytona and be in good shape because from the fall of 1992 to the 2007 Daytona 500, a Chevy had won 22 of 30 races at Daytona. Beginning in the fall of 2007, we saw a massive switch in power that began the trend of uncertainty and led to such fair odds being given by the sports books for restrictor plate races. In the six races run since then, we have seen two different Fords and Toyotas win, a Dodge, and a Chevy win. The Chevrolet drought ended this year with Jamie McMurray winning this year’s Daytona 500.

Read More Here

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Las Vegas Hilton Super Book Odds To Win COKE ZERO 400 at Daytona; Lots of Value This Week



Monday, June 28, 2010

Johnson-Hamlin Race to the Chase Might Be More Exciting Than Those Trying To Make It

by Micah Roberts
Gaming Today Las Vegas

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has gone through 17 rounds thus far into the 2010 season and Kevin Harvick still remains the leader in points, 105 points more than Jimmie Johnson. The rounds reference is made just because it looks were going to have a 36 round slug fest with Denny Hamlin and Johnson. No, they aren’t feuding -- although, that would make it even better -- the two are throwing metaphorical punches like a classic Arturo Gatti-Mickey Ward bout.

Johnson came out swinging first winning three of the first five races of the season. Hamlin was bloodied and dazed, but hung in there and the cut-man fixed him nicely. All of a sudden, Hamlin, the number one contender to dethrone the champ, starts fighting back with jabs at Martinsville, an upper-cut at Texas, a right-cross at Darlington, and Johnson is on the ropes looking like he’s ready to be knocked out.

Hamlin keeps the punches flying at Pocono and Michigan and the reporters are already typing their headlines as a new champ is about to be crowned, but then the bell rings. Johnson is dazed and went through a flurry of punches like the champ hasn’t seen in five years, but the smelling salt brought some life back into him, he re-grouped, got some advice from his corner man, and came out with a vengeance for the next round.

Johnson threw haymakers at both Sonoma and New Hampshire while Hamlin got weak at the knees in both instances. Currently, Johnson’s got all his opponents on the run and is going to be tough to knockout.

It’s been an entertaining run thus far in what looks to be a battle down the stretch between Hamlin and Johnson, even though Harvick currently leads. Once the Chase field is set after September’s Richmond race, the 12-man field will be lined up by wins through the first 26 races. Johnson and Hamlin each have five wins each, which if started today, would give them 50 points. That would be at least 30 points more than the next closest drivers, who at this point is the Busch brothers.

While the race at the top of the standings has been entertaining, the race to make the field near the bottom has been almost as fun. With only nine races to go until the field is set, only 43 points separate the 11th-place driver, Mark Martin, from the 15th-place driver, Clint Bowyer. Only 210 points separates the 22nd-place driver, Juan Pablo Montoya, from 11th-place.

One driver that has made a steady climb near the top-12 heading to Daytona this week is Dale Earnhardt Jr. who is only three points out of 12th-place. Junior has had the three best consecutive runs of the season coming in and now gets to race on a track that has his only top-five run of the season. During the season opening Daytona 500, Junior made a late charge and finished second.

It’s been over two years since Junior has won a race, but between the value the Las Vegas sports books are going to offer him at and his current string of good runs, he’s a driver that could be worth taking a chance on this week. Because of all his mediocrity over the last three seasons with Hendrick Motorsports, most books should have Junior in the 12 to 1 range like he was in the Daytona 500, but could be even higher based on what his 15 to 1 odds at Talladega in April.

The teams that really seem to have their restrictor-plate programs together are Childress, Roush-Fenway, and Eanhardt-Ganassi. Jamie McMurray won as a 40 to 1 long shot in the Daytona 500 and followed that up with a strong runner-up finish to Kevin Harvick at Talladega. The last three years, the Roush program has really kicked up a notch from their past trends and have won three plate races, two of them by McMurray while he drove a Roush car.

Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart have been very good in plate races as well, in fact, they got tangled up near the finish line of the last lap in this race last season racing for the win. Stewart took the win, his third Daytona win, all of which have come in the July Firecracker race. Busch won this race in 2008 and has often had the best car during his three years of plate racing with Joe Gibbs.

A driver that may have some value this week is one that has never won a plate race. Kurt Busch has come close several times and is regarded as the best driver in NASCAR to never have won a plate race. He always seems to lead laps and be one of the few trusted drivers that others feel confident drafting with. He’s had four straight top-5 finishes in the Firecracker and sooner or later, he is finally going to break through.

Early Top-5 Daytona Finish Prediction:
1) #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr (12/1)
2) #29 Kevin Harvick (10/1)
3) #1 Jamie McMurray (10/1)
4) #18 Kyle Busch (8/1)
5) #2 Kurt Busch (14/1)

Daytona International Speedway Odds & Ends: Coke Zero 400

compiled by Mike Forde
NASCAR Media Services

·         Groundbreaking for Daytona International Speedway was Nov. 25, 1957. The soil underneath the banked corners was dug from the infield of the track and the hole filled with water. It is now known as Lake Lloyd.
·         The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona was a 100-mile qualifying race for the Daytona 500 on Feb. 20, 1959.
·         Richard Petty won his 200th career race on July 4, 1984 at Daytona.
·         Lights were installed in the spring of 1998. However, the race was delayed until October that year due to thick smoke from wildfires. The second Daytona race has been held under lights ever since.
·         There have been 126 NASCAR Sprint Cup races since the track hosted its first race in 1959: 52 have been 500 miles, 47 were 400 miles and four 250 miles. There were also 23 qualifier races that were points races.
·         Fireball Roberts won the inaugural pole at Daytona.
·         Bob Welborn won the first race at Daytona, the 100-mile qualifying race for the Daytona 500.
·         Lee Petty won the first Daytona 500 on Feb. 22, 1959.
·         Fireball Roberts won the first 400-mile race at Daytona, the 1963 Firecracker 400.
·         52 drivers have posted poles; 20 have more than one.
·         Cale Yarborough leads all drivers with 12 poles.
·         Bill Elliott leads all active drivers with five poles.
·         54 drivers have won a race; 25 have won more than once.
·         Richard Petty leads all drivers in victories with 10.
·         Jeff Gordon has six victories, more than any other active driver.
·         The Wood Brothers have won 14 races at Daytona, more than any other car owner.
·         16 full-length races at Daytona have been won from the pole, including last year’s Coke Zero 400, won by polesitter Tony Stewart.
·         A driver has swept both races at Daytona only four times, most recently by Bobby Allison in 1982.
·         The last nine Daytona races that finished under green have had a margin of victory under a half second.
NASCAR in Florida
·         There have been 163 NASCAR Sprint Cup races in Florida.
·         157 drivers in NASCAR’s three national series (all-time) have their home state recorded as Florida.
·         There have been nine race winners from Florida in NASCAR’s three national series:
Fireball Roberts
LeeRoy Yarbrough
Marshall Teague
Joe Nemechek
Bobby Johns
David Reutimann
Shorty Rollins
Rick Wilson
Aric Almirola
Daytona International Speedway Data
Race #: 18 of 36 (7-3-10)
Track Size: 2.5 miles
Race Length: 500 miles (200 laps)
Banking/Corners: 31 degrees
Banking/Straights: 3 degrees
Banking/Tri-Oval: 18 degrees
Driver Rating at Daytona
Tony Stewart                 104.5
Kyle Busch                   100.6
Matt Kenseth                 93.4
Kurt Busch                    92.7
Jimmie Johnson            91.8
Jeff Gordon                  91.5
Clint Bowyer                  88.4
Dale Earnhardt Jr.         87.7
Kevin Harvick                85.4
Carl Edwards                84.0
Note: Driver Rating compiled from 2005-2010 races (11 total) at Daytona.
Qualifying/Race Data
2009 pole winner: None (inclement weather)
2009 race winner: Tony Stewart (142.461 mph, 7-4-09)
Qualifying record: Bill Elliott (210.364 mph, 42.783 secs., 2-9-87)
Race record: Bobby Allison (173.473 mph, 7-4-80)
Estimated Pit Window: 36-38 laps depending on fuel mileage

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Johnson Rallies Late To Win at New Hampshire, His Third Career NHMS Win

Associated Press

LOUDON, N.H. -- Jimmie Johnson surged past Kurt Busch with three laps left to win the Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Busch grabbed the lead Sunday with about seven laps left when he nudged Johnson out of the way. Johnson and Busch quickly got side-by-side to energize what had been a lackluster race.

The four-time defending champion pulled away to win his second consecutive race after taking the checkered flag last week on the road course at Infineon Raceway.

Tony Stewart finished second and Busch was third. Jeff Gordon was fourth.

Johnson put a little bump on Busch to move him up the track, allowing the No. 48 to slip underneath and win for the fifth time this season.

New Hampshire Results

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Phoenix and Richmond Best Places to Find New Hampshire Winner For Sunday

By Micah Roberts
Las Vegas Review-Journal

The best approach in dissecting the top candidates to win at New Hampshire on Sunday is to follow a trend that has been pretty strong since the track first opened for NASCAR Sprint Cup racing in 1993 — and that’s to follow what happened at Phoenix and Richmond. Although the tracks are vastly different in configuration, the one constant among them is that they are all a mile or less with relatively flat banking.

The trend and correlation between the three facilities is so strong, likely because, it’s the crew chiefs who have kept it going. Any team that has any kind of success on any of the three tracks generally brings the identical chassis and setup for the other.

This process has led to several multiple winners between the three tracks on a given year. Last year, it was Mark Martin taking wins at both Phoenix and Richmond. The two previous years it was Jimmie Johnson, and before him, the likes of Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Burton were all multiwinners in a given season at the three combined tracks.

If just looking at what happened this year during April’s Phoenix and May’s Richmond races, it’s easy to see just how clear the correlation is with only two samplings. Of the top-10 finishers at Phoenix, six of the drivers finished in the top-10 again three weeks later at Richmond, including both winners, Ryan Newman and Kyle Busch.

When looking at the practice times for this week's New Hampshire race and noticing what chassis those fast teams brought, it’s not irrational to believe that history will repeat itself.

At the top of the list this week is Jimmie Johnson, who is once again hitting his stride. He’s expecting to be a father any day now and even had a backup driver, Aric Almirola, take a few laps in his car during the early practice Saturday in case he has to leave Sunday. No one was better than Johnson during practice. He had the fastest single lap and average speeds for Saturday’s combined sessions. At Phoenix this year, he led the most laps and finished third, finishing 10th at Richmond. He will be using the same chassis on Sunday that he drove in those two races.

Kyle Busch won at Richmond this year and has had some success at New Hampshire, which includes winning in 2006. Busch looks to be the driver to give Johnson the most fits this week because of how close he has been to Johnson’s times during Saturday’s practice.

Jeff Gordon has done just about everything this year except win. He finished runner-up at both Phoenix and Richmond, and to boot, he finished as runner-up in this race last season. He is a three-time winner at New Hampshire but hasn’t won there since 1998. He had a fine practice session Saturday ending with the fourth-fastest lap during happy hour, and the only thing that may keep him from another quality finish, or win, is the payback that Martin Truex Jr. promised following Gordon punting him last week at Sonoma.

Ryan Newman is using the same chassis that he beat out Jeff Gordon with at Phoenix. Newman also finished eighth at Richmond and comes to New Hampshire with two career wins at the track. During practice, Newman was strong both Friday and the early session Saturday but tailed off a bit during happy hour. It’s likely the final times were more a testament to the team just trying different long-run strategies, because this car and team have proven to be very good on these type of tracks and just might be able to steal another one.

Jeff Burton is New Hampshire’s all-time leader in wins with four. As if his pedigree isn’t good enough on merit, his practice times and the chassis he brought seal the deal. Burton is a real contender this week. He is using the same car that finished fourth at Richmond in May and finished runner-up at Phoenix last fall. During happy hour, Burton laid down the second-fastest lap.

Tony Stewart has been awful at this type of track this season. He finished 23rd at both Phoenix and Richmond after being one of the favorites in each race last season. This is the type of track that got the new Stewart-Haas company rolling in 2009, showing they were a player to be respected and paid attention to as they rolled into the final 10-race Chase for the Championship and the one to stop Johnson from winning his fourth straight title.

After looking at practice times, Stewart looks vastly improved from his 2010 trends on the flat midranged tracks. Stewart was fifth-fastest during happy hour and began the practice sessions Friday with a strong fourth-fastest time while in race trim. The best news is that he brought a chassis this week that was thoroughly tested and reset at the Milwaukee Mile’s flat configuration in preparation specifically for this race. The team knows this is an important race, not only to make the chase, but to advance further as the next time they roll into town, it’ll be the first race of the Chase for the Championship.

Martin Truex Jr. hails from the Northeast and has always run better than usual at New Hampshire. He’s got an agenda with Jeff Gordon this week that he’ll either have to live up to his bold claims following Sonoma last week or pack it in and say he’s looking at the bigger picture. By the way Gordon has pleaded for forgiveness, it’s likely that Truex Jr. will go out and race his own race to not look like the villain in getting revenge with someone so apologetic.

It’s a good thing, too, because Truex Jr. looks pretty good on his own this week. He had the second-fastest average times during the first practice session Saturday and finished strong with the sixth-fastest single lap during happy hour.

Denny Hamlin didn’t have any practice session that gave insight into him possibly doing well this week, but what he does have is just a natural ability to get after it on flat tracks. It doesn’t matter whether it's Pocono, Martinsville, Phoenix, Richmond, or New Hampshire, Hamlin can wheel the heck out of his car with no banking and he’s going to need that Sunday. This week, he’s driving the same chassis that finished third at Phoenix last fall.

Juan Pablo Montoya has been one of the more consistent drivers on these type of flat tracks over the last year. He finished fifth at Phoenix and sixth at Richmond and is using the same chassis that finished third in the last race run at New Hampshire. He came out on fire Friday during practice in both race and qualifying trim, gaining the top slot in qualifying, but stalled a bit during Saturday’s practice. He’s been a tough driver to gauge this season, but not at these tracks. Look for a strong top-10 finish this week.

Mark Martin comes in as the last recipient to win multiple times on the combined flat tracks and had a good effort in practice to justify any lean his way, despite not having the same type of breakout resurgence year he had last season. He practiced well enough on Friday and Saturday to give an inclination that he can at least duplicate what he did the last time rolling out in the car he’s using this week, which was a fourth-place finish at Phoenix.

Carl Edwards is not a candidate to win this week, but he will be someone to contend with for a top-10 position based on what he did at Phoenix and Richmond this season. His practice times mirror what he did there and that shouldn’t be surprising since he’s using the car that finished seventh at Phoenix. Edwards also managed a fifth-place run at Richmond. If needing a driver to get points in fantasy NASCAR or betting matchups, there won’t be more than eight drivers you should bet against Edwards.
ROBERTS NASCAR NOTES on Radio - Archived New Hampshire Show 
Be sure to listen to my Post Practice report and preview for each race on Prime Sports Network following the final practice sessions three hours after happy hour. Listen live or at your leisure; all shows are archived. Host Greg DePalma and I will review each of the top drivers and steer you in a direction you should be going based on past/recent history along with critical practice information for your NASCAR Fantasy teams or wagers.

New Hampshire Top 10 Driver Ratings Following All Practice Sessions

Micah Roberts Top 10 Driver Ratings
Lenox Industrial Tools 301
New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Sunday, June 27, 2010 - 10:16 am (PDT)

Rating    Driver     Odds       Practice 1    Qualifying   Practice 2   Practice 3      
 1. Jimmie Johnson 9/2           2nd                 10th             1st                1st
Using 10th-place Richmond chassis; Best average speeds during Saturday practices.
 2. Kyle Busch 7/1                    8th                 22nd            2nd                3rd                  
Won 2005 NHMS race; Won at Richmond, a track that requires similar set-up.
 3. Jeff Gordon 7/1                   6th                 16th             7th                4th    
Three-time NHMS winner; average finish of 11.4. Finished runner-up at Richmond and Phoenix.
 4. Ryan Newman 35/1            5th                  5th              3rd                25th        
Using same chassis that won at Phoenix; two-time winner at NHMS with average finish of 13.8.
 5. Jeff Burton 15/1                  9th                 17th             9th                 2nd      
All-time track leader with four wins. Using same chassis that finished fourth at Richmond.
 6. Kurt Busch 12/1                  3rd                  3rd              8th                 9th      
Three-time NHMS winner with last coming in 2008. Using Fontana chassis this week.
 7. Juan Pablo Montoya 20/1   1st                  1st              12th               8th    
Using third-place chassis from 2009 NHMS fall race. Finished fifth and sixth at Phoenix and Richmond.
 8. Tony Stewart 15/1              4th                  25th             15th               5th    
Had one of his best practices of the year. Using chassis that recently tested well at flat Milwaukee Mile.
 9. Clint Bowyer 15/1               12th                 9th               5th               10th
Won 2007 NHMS race; using seventh-place Charlotte chassis this week. Good flat track driver.    
10. Mark Martin 20/1                7th                  4th              11th              22nd        
Won the fall NHMS race last year; average finish of 10.7. Using fourth-place Phoenix chassis
Note: New Hampshire’s flat one-mile layout requires a similar set-up to Phoenix and Richmond.                  

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. He currently writes for multiple publications covering all sports. He can be reached at