ES: Loudon II: Round 12 preview

* 17-Year-Old Logano Could Clinch 2007 Championship At New Hampshire * Tony Stewart's "Throw Away Car" From 2006 Becomes "Undefeated Car" In 2007 * Matt Kobyluck Determined To Be In Championship Hunt After Aubuchon Hardware 125 DAYTONA BEACH,...

* 17-Year-Old Logano Could Clinch 2007 Championship At New Hampshire
* Tony Stewart's "Throw Away Car" From 2006 Becomes "Undefeated Car" In 2007
* Matt Kobyluck Determined To Be In Championship Hunt After Aubuchon Hardware 125

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 11, 2007) -- The first major NASCAR championship could be decided Friday at New Hampshire International Speedway. Or, the two primary title contenders could race to a stand-off of sorts and wait seven days until the series' finale in Dover, Del., on Sept. 21.

The NASCAR Busch East Series will bring to Loudon an air of anticipation, an expectation of dramatics and a willingness to hold its collective breath for another week to await the outcome of a close championship chase.

Seventeen-year-old series rookie Joey Logano (No. 20 Joe Gibbs Driven/Coca Cola Chevrolet) enters the Loudon event with an 82-point lead over 37-year-old series veteran Matt Kobyluck (No. 40 Mohegan Sun Chevrolet). If you use those drivers' finishing positions at NHIS in June as a barometer, Logano would appear to have a leg up going into this weekend. In June, Logano won and led the most laps, earning 190 points; Kobyluck finished sixth, didn't lead a lap and received 150 points.

To clinch this week, Logano must come out of Friday's race with a 190-point lead, meaning he must pad his lead by 108 points on Friday. Here's one simple clinching scenario: Logano wins the race and Kobyluck finishes lower than fourth.

While Sean Caisse (No. 44 Casella Waste Systems Chevrolet) retains an outside championship shot arriving at Loudon third in points, all eyes will be on Logano and Kobyluck.

It is evident no one is conceding anything among the three. In the series' most recent event Aug. 25, in Mansfield, Ohio, Caisse won followed by Kobyluck and Logano.

Logano is enthusiastically looking forward to the Loudon and Dover events, with no contemplation of the point race. He, crew chief Mike Sibley and the JGR team are bringing a bullet to the one-mile tracks. Logano is simply looking forward to driving the thing again.

"We're bringing the old undefeated car back out," Logano said.

Which car is that?

"The undefeated car won Phoenix (a NASCAR West Series race in April), Loudon (in June) and Iowa (a seven-eighths mile where he beat Kevin Harvick for the win)," he said. "She's an old speedway car. She's pretty strong so we're looking forward to getting back on the (super)speedways.

"She's just special. She has a place in my heart. It's run good every single race and the Gibbs speedway program is just tremendous," Logano said.

There is some irony in Logano's enthusiasm for the ride. The previous driver practically threw it away.

"It's an old No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet that Tony (Stewart) ran last year and he absolutely hated the car, so we got it," Logano said. "I absolutely love it. Someone's trash is another person's treasure."

As the challenger in the point race, Kobyluck knows his work is cut out for him. But shear determination got him to victory lane at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn., in August. He lost a big lead in the last turn of the last lap of the race when he and the rest of the field hit a fresh patch of oil. He man-handled the car to regain control, and still won by a quarter-second over Caisse. Kobyluck has not lost that determination. The fact that he has not yet won at Loudon doesn't bother him because he's frequently had a top-five car there.

"Hopefully, we can build on what we had there with a sixth-place finish in June," Kobyluck said. "Joey won there and he's obviously going to be really tough at Loudon. We're just looking to go in there and have a solid finish and then try to finish this thing off at Dover."

Caisse has finished as high as second at Loudon, and his car owner/crew chief has won there three times. His up-and-down season has been on an upswing.

"We had two seconds then won at Mansfield, so we've got some momentum building," Caisse said. "We're just chipping away at it. If we have a dominant car at Loudon, then we're going to try to win the race. If we have a fifth-place car, we'll finish fifth. We're going to run these last two races hard, but bring the car home whole and be there at the finish."

NEWS & NOTES, PART II

The race ... This event is the 12th of 13 races for the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series in 2007. It is the 47th visit to the track since 1990.

The track ... New Hampshire International Speedway was built by Bob Bahre and family and opened in 1990. Tommy Ellis won the first NASCAR-sanctioned race at the track, a NASCAR Busch Series race,on July 15, 1990. Mike McLaughlin won the second NASCAR event at the track, a NASCAR Busch East Series race, on Sept. 2, 1990.

Points chase ... Series point leader Logano can clinch the 2007 NASCAR Busch East Series championship at Loudon by winning the race and leading the most laps while Kobyluck finishes lower than fourth.

Competing for Showdown spot ... NASCAR Busch East Series drivers only have two events left to secure a spot in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown by winning a race. Only Grand National race winners and champions of the NASCAR Developmental Series will be locked in to the field. All others must race their way in. The rich and prestigious all-star event is scheduled for October 20 at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway. NASCAR Busch East Series drivers who have won starting spots include Logano, Kobyluck, Caisse, Rogelio Lopez, and Eddie MacDonald.

FAST FACTS

What: Aubuchon Hardware 125 presented by Hardwarestore.com; NASCAR Busch East Series
Race No. 12 of 13

Where: New Hampshire International Speedway, Loudon, N.H.
When: 5:10 p.m., Friday, Sept. 14

Track layout: 1.058-mile paved oval
Distance: 125 Laps, 132.25 miles.

Posted Awards: $240,384

TV: HDNet, Live 5:00 p.m.(Enhanced replay, SPEED, Noon, Oct. 3, 2007)

2006 winner: Kelly Moore
2006 polesitter: Set by points

Pre-race schedule: Thursday -- Practice, 12:50-2:20 p.m.; Qualifying, 4:15 p.m. Note: All times subject to change.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Tony Stewart , Kevin Harvick , Mike McLaughlin , Matt Kobyluck , Rogelio Lopez , Joey Logano , Sean Caisse , Eddie MacDonald