On the right track: NHIS history favors Gordon, Johnson and Newman News of Note: ON THE RIGHT TRACK New Hampshire International Speedway has a relatively brief history in terms of NASCAR's premier series. The first premier-series event at...
On the right track: NHIS history favors Gordon, Johnson and Newman
News of Note:
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
New Hampshire International Speedway has a relatively brief history in terms of NASCAR's premier series. The first premier-series event at NHIS was held in 1993, three years after the NASCAR Busch Series started racing there.
Nonetheless, there are NASCAR NEXTEL Cup drivers who regularly excel at NHIS.
• Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup points leader Jeff Gordon has three victories at NHIS, second behind Jeff Burton's (No. 30 AOL Chevrolet) series-leading four victories. Gordon has the most NHIS poles, with three. In this season's previous New Hampshire race -- the Siemens 300 on July 25 -- Gordon finished second.
• Jimmie Johnson, second in the Chase standings, swept last season's two NHIS races, and finished a respectable 11th two months ago, in the Siemens 300. • Seventh-place Kurt Busch (No. 97 IRWIN Ford) has only one New Hampshire victory, but it came in the last NHIS race, the Siemens 300.
• Tenth-place Ryan Newman (No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge) has one NHIS victory but he also has three NHIS poles, the latest coming in July. Newman finished third in the July race. He has only five starts at New Hampshire, but each time he has finished in the Top 10, including a July 2002 victory. He has led a total of 407 laps in those five races, en route to an average finish of 4.4, which is the best among Chase competitors at NHIS.
THE PRESSURE'S ON
Several of the drivers involved in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup would probably like to see a track other than New Hampshire start the 10-race championship showdown.
• Dale Earnhardt Jr., for instance, has an average finish of 20.4 at NHIS, albeit a number skewed downward by a 31st-place finish in July. There were, however, extenuating circumstances that day. Earnhardt, recovering from burns suffered in a sports car racing incident, was able to complete only 61 laps before giving way to relief driver Martin Truex Jr. Said Earnhardt: "I think we've run really well at Loudon ... well, other than earlier this year."
• Jeremy Mayfield has a 25.2 average finish at NHIS, the lowest average among Chase competitors. In 17 NHIS starts, Mayfield has only three top-10 finishes -- including a 10th in July.
• Elliott Sadler (No. 38 M&M's Ford) has a 19.7 average finish at New Hampshire. His best finish there was eighth, in September 2003. He finished 15th at NHIS in July.
• "Yes, we have a real shot at winning the championship. We're a team that has been up and down, but if you look back, even in our Busch Series days, we've always finished really strong in the last third of each season. ... There are some tracks (in the final 10 races) that we always look forward to and where we've had success. We have a lot of tests coming up and I believe the races at Kansas and Homestead are going to decide our championship [chances]. We've struggled at those places ... if we get those figured out, we're going to be tough to beat." -- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
• "I have been racing for 22 years and this is definitely the most fun I have ever had in a race car. ... As I have been saying all along, I don't think NASCAR could have written the script better for how this whole new point system is shaking out. I have always liked it, but I want everyone to know that had the point system stayed the same as it was when Matt Kenseth won it last year I still think this team would have been exactly where we are today." -- Sixth-place Elliott Sadler.
• "We know that we've come a long way, but it's a whole new season now. We can't rest on anything and we sure can't let up. We're in the thing, but we are up against the best of the best. You can rest assured that we'll give it our best shot, and no matter what happens we'll know that we never gave up on this thing." -- Eighth-place Mark Martin (No. 6 Viagra Ford), regarding his late charge to make the Chase.
• "I like going out into every single race trying to win, trying to get the best finish that you possibly can, and that's the way we're going to approach these last 10 races." -- Jeff Gordon.
What: Sylvania 300 (Round 1 of the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup/Race No. 27 of the 36-race NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season.)
Where: New Hampshire International Speedway; Loudon, N.H.
When: Sunday, Sept. 19, 1 p.m. (ET).
TV: TNT, 12:30 p.m. (ET).
Radio: MRN/XM Satellite.
Posted awards: $5,129,482.
Race length: 300 laps/317.4 miles.
Track layout: 1.058-mile oval.