Thursday, July 14, 2016

NASCAR news and notes heading to New Hampshire

Matt Kenseth won last fall at New Hampshire. He's 8/1 to win Sunday.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Next Race: New Hampshire 301
The Place: New Hampshire Motor Speedway
The Date: Sunday, July 17
The Time: 1:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN, 1 p.m. ET
Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 318.46 miles (301 laps)

Next Race: AutoLotto 200
The Place: New Hampshire Motor Speedway
The Date: Saturday, July 16
The Time: 4 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN, 3:30 p.m. ET
Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 211.6 miles (200 laps)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Next Race: Aspen Dental Eldora Dirt Derby
The Place: Eldora Speedway
The Date: Wednesday, July 20
The Time: 9 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 8:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 75 miles (150 laps); Segments of 40-50-60 laps


Keselowski Goes For Third Consecutive Win

Brad Keselowski has asserted himself as the hottest driver in NASCAR this summer after winning the last two consecutive races (Daytona and Kentucky). Dating back to his May 1 win at Talladega, the No. 2 Ford driver has recorded three wins, six top fives and eight top 10s in his last nine starts. His four wins this season lead the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Keselowski will attempt to become the fourth driver in the Chase era to win three consecutive races in Sunday’s New Hampshire 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (1:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN). Joey Logano and Kyle Busch both logged three straight wins last season, becoming the first pair of drivers to achieve the feat since Rusty Wallace and Mark Martin in 1993. Jimmie Johnson strung together four consecutive victories in the 2007 Chase on his way to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship and won three races in a row in the 2004 Chase.

After his win Saturday, Keselowski became the first driver to officially clinch a berth in the Chase because he has multiple wins and is too far ahead in points (+378) to fall behind 31st-place Brian Scott.

Keselowski claims one win, five top fives, eight top 10s and three Coors Light Poles in 13 starts at New Hampshire.

Parity Abound At New Hampshire
New Hampshire is not a track where a handful of drivers dominate and rack up all the wins.

Dating back to July 2008, 14 different drivers have won in the last 16 races at New Hampshire: Matt Kenseth (2015-2), Kyle Busch (2015-1), Joey Logano (2014-2), Brad Keselowski (2014-1), Kenseth (2013-2), Brian Vickers (2013-1), Denny Hamlin (2012-2), Kasey Kahne (2012-1), Tony Stewart (2011-2), Ryan Newman (2011-1), Clint Bowyer (2010-2), Jimmie Johnson (2010-1), Mark Martin (2009-2), Logano (2009-1), Greg Biffle (2008-2), Kurt Busch (2008-1).

Four drivers share the active lead at New Hampshire with three victors each: Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart.

Logano Leads NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Youth Movement

Only 26 years old, Joey Logano has already established himself as one of the superstars of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 15 career wins and a series-leading six victories last season. Experienced for his age (competing in his eighth full season), Logano virtually guaranteed himself a berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with his victory at Michigan, and currently sits fifth in the points standings.

The Middletown, Connecticut, native returns to his home track – New Hampshire Motor Speedway – in search of his second win of the season in Sunday’s New Hampshire 301. He became the youngest winner in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history when he visited Victory Lane in The Granite State on June 28, 2009 (19 years, 1 month, 4 days).

Following Logano’s lead are a bevy of young stars adding excitement to series. These include Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates Chase Elliott, 20, and Ryan Blaney, 22, who can become the first, and only, rookie drivers since Denny Hamlin (2006) to make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. More experienced rising stars include Austin Dillon, 26, who’s on pace to make his first Chase, as well as Kyle Larson, 23, who has been tabbed the future of the sport by many of NASCAR’s best. Elliott, Blaney, Dillon and Larson are all still searching for their first win – a feat active drivers Logano, Ryan Newman and Clint Bowyer all achieved at New Hampshire.

At Michigan in June, Logano (first), Elliott (second) and Larson (third) combined to form the youngest top 3 in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history.

Don’t forget about Kyle Busch, 31, and Brad Keselowski, 32. Both drivers likely haven’t reached their prime yet, but boast 37 and 21 career wins, respectively.

* While Logano is in his home area, he’ll hold his third annual charity fundraiser for his Joey Logano Foundation Thursday, July 14, in Plantsville, Connecticut – the Joey Logano Driving Hope Home Golf Tournament, Dinner and Auction. Since 2013, The Joey Logano Foundation has distributed nearly $1 million in grant funding in 26 states supporting more than 100 organizations.

Biffle Back On Track?
Greg Biffle produced a season-high sixth-place finish at Kentucky for his second consecutive top 10. His pair of top 10s in the last two weeks are his only top 10s this season.

The Roush Fenway Racing driver will attempt to continue his consistency in Sunday’s New Hampshire 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

In 27 starts in The Granite State, Biffle owns one win (September 2008), seven top fives, 10 top 10s and an average finish of 15.7.

Biffle will sport a NESN Fuel paint scheme this weekend which features the Boston Red Sox and Boston Bruins logos.

Teams Hunt For Third New Hampshire Sweep
The New Hampshire Motor Speedway races have been swept by a single organization the last two seasons. Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano won both races for Team Penske in 2014, while Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth won the events at The Magic Mile in 2014.

Team Penske has won three of the last four races, while a Joe Gibbs Racing driver hasn’t visited Victory Lane since Kenseth triumphed at Dover six races ago. JGR’s eight New Hampshire wins rank second on the track’s all-time list to Hendrick Motorsports’ nine.

8 To Go: Only Five Chase Berths Remain With Eight Races Left Until NASCAR’s Playoffs

The pressure is mounting for drivers to make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with only five of the 16 playoff berths remaining with a mere eight races left in the regular season.

A visit to Victory Lane gets a winless driver into the Chase as long as he/she is in the top 30 of the points standings.

The drivers who would get into the Chase if the season ended today are: Brad Keselowski (4 wins), Kyle Busch (3), Carl Edwards (2), Jimmie Johnson (2), Kevin Harvick (1), Kurt Busch (1), Joey Logano (1), Martin Truex Jr. (1), Matt Kenseth (1), Denny Hamlin (1), Tony Stewart (1), Chase Elliott (69 points ahead of Trevor Bayne on the cutoff line), Ryan Newman (+34), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (+32), Austin Dillon (+31) and Jamie McMurray (+10). The first four out are Bayne (-10), Kasey Kahne (-16), Ryan Blaney (-24) and Kyle Larson (-27).

Newman, Kahne, Clint Bowyer and Greg Biffle are the only currently winless drivers who have visited Victory Lane at New Hampshire.

Below are the remaining tracks after New Hampshire and winless drivers who have visited Victory Lane at them:
Indianapolis: Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard, Ryan Newman
Pocono: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne, Greg Biffle, Ryan Newman
Watkins Glen: AJ Allmendinger
Bristol: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne
Michigan: Greg Biffle, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne
Darlington: Greg Biffle, Regan Smith
Richmond: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman

New Man: No. 31 Chevrolet Driver Looks To Build On Season-Best Finish At Top Track

The always consistent Ryan Newman logged a season-best third-place finish in last Saturday’s race at Kentucky, strengthening his position on the Chase Grid where he sits 13th – 34 points ahead of Trevor Bayne on the cutoff line.

Newman will attempt to build on his performance from last week at New Hampshire where he has three wins – tied with Dover for his most at any track. He also holds the track record with seven Coors Light Pole Awards.

The No. 31 Chevrolet driver will try to capture Richard Childress Racing its first win since he visited Victory Lane at Indianapolis on July 28, 2013 – 106 races ago.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Etc.

The Pace Between: Dave Matthews Bassist To Lead Field To Green In New Hampshire 301
Dave Matthews Band bassist Stefan Lessard will lead the field to Green as the honorary pace car driver in Sunday’s New Hampshire 301. Lessard travels to the track from the Dave Matthews Band summer tour, which includes two sold out concerts in New Hampshire. Dave Matthews Band is the first group in history to have six consecutive studio albums debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.


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