Parity record ready to fall in New Hampshire

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Parity record ready to fall in New Hampshire
Sep 18, 2014, 8:21 PM

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race results at New Hampshire Motor Speedway can be summed up with one word: Unpredictable.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Chase drivers Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Ryan Newman, Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, Aric Almirola, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Greg Biffle, Brad Keselowski, A.J. Allmendinger, Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick
Jeff Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon
Jeff Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet

Thirteen different drivers have taken the checkered flag in the last 13 NASCAR Sprint Cup races at the Magic Mile – tied with Texas Motor Speedway for the all-time streak without a repeat winner.

And there’s a better than average chance the Magic Mile takes sole possession of the record after this Sunday’s Sylvania 300 (2 p.m. on ESPN) as Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are all missing from the 13-in-13 stretch.

"The streak is a testimony to the competitive challenge our track presents to drivers. In addition to new winners, we're seeing record lead changes, more drivers than ever on the lead lap, and some great finishes," said Jerry Gappens, executive vice president and general manager of the track.

(at New Hampshire) If you get yourself stuck in the middle of the pack you’re not going to have a very good day unless you have a really good car.

Kevin Harvick

"We've had part-time drivers, former champions, and first-time winners end up in Sunoco Victory Lane. We take a lot of pride in the fact that anyone can win and anything can happen here at New Hampshire Motor Speedway."

Gordon owns three victories at New Hampshire, but has not won there since 1998. He’s on the cusp of his fourth win this season after posting runner-up finishes the last two races. Despite his Granite State drought, Gordon boasts the highest average running position in the series at the 1.058-mile oval (7.7) where he has competed in all 39 of its NASCAR Sprint Cup series events – tied with Jeff Burton for its all-time starts record.

“Loudon always seems to be a good track for us, although it didn’t appear to be the case when the green (flag) waved the last time we were there,” said Gordon of his 26th-place July New Hampshire finish. “The car was ‘undriveable’ at the start and we lost a lap early, but it was because one of the tires was slowly losing air. Once we got the (chassis) adjustments back in it, the car was really fast – so that gives us some confidence as we head into this weekend.”

I love New Hampshire because it’s short, and you blink an eye, 300 laps is gone,

Steve Letarte

It’s been a while since Harvick has won at New Hampshire, too (09/17/06). In his last two races at the track, he has finished 30th and 20th, respectively. Harvick can likely count on a solid starting position, at least. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver boasts a series-best six Coors Light Pole Awards this season and has started lower than sixth once in his last eight races, coincidentally at the Magic Mile.

“(New Hampshire is) a track where you have to have a good-handling car, you have to have track position and you have to have everything going right,” Harvick said. “If you get yourself stuck in the middle of the pack you’re not going to have a very good day unless you have a really good car.”

After posting three wins, his highest total since he racked up six in 2004, Earnhardt will try to automatically advance to the Chase’s Contender Round with a New Hampshire checkered flag. He has the most starts without a win a Loudon, but has seven top fives to his credit there. Since Earnhardt’s emphatic win at Pocono, he has posted one top-10 finish in the last six races, a fifth-place showing at Michigan.

“I love New Hampshire because it’s short, and you blink an eye, 300 laps is gone,” said Steve Letarte, Earnhardt’s crew chief. “You have to have your pit strategy right. You have to be aggressive. That’s kind of Dale’s and my signature, being aggressive with the pit strategy. He’s committed to driving those unique pit strategies and I think that’s what allows us to consistently finish well at New Hampshire.”

NASCAR Wire Service

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