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Last Updated Monday, Sep 27, 2010 1:40 am, EDT

Race Capsule

New Hampshire Motor Speedway
  • What:

    Race 27 of 36 on Sprint Cup circuit

  • Where:

    New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Loudon, NH

  • When:

    September 19, 2010 1:15 pm EDT

  • Laps:

    300

  • Track Length:

    1.058 miles

  • Race Length:

    317.00 miles

  • Purse:

    $5,256,417

Drivers to Watch

Clint Bowyer In nine previous Sprint Cup starts at New Hampshire, Bowyer has one pole, one win and three top-10 finishes. He started from the pole, led the most laps (224) and won the first race of the 2007 Chase at New Hampshire -- which was also his first career Sprint Cup victory. In his last start at New Hampshire in June, Bowyer finished seventh. Bowyer is also one of five drivers in this year's Chase who still have not won a race in 2010. "All this team is missing is a win," he said. "If we can win like we did in 2007, the momentum is going to make us dangerous. ... If you take a look at how this team has reacted to adversity, it shows that we're a contender. I'm confident in their preparation, and they're confident that I'm going to drive the wheels off the car to win this championship."
Tony Stewart Stewart moves up to sixth in the standings with one win and 5,010 points. Stewart also would have been sixth in the final regular-season standings, 306 behind the leader. Stewart is 50 points out of the Chase lead. Stewart has two wins (July 2000 and July 2005), 12 top-five finishes and 14 top-10s in 23 starts at New Hampshire. He was 14th in this race last year and second in June and has three top-10s in his last four New Hampshire starts. "The only way you know is after 10 races," Stewart said of forecasting the Chase. "You could finish dead last at Loudon and theoretically still win the championship, so it's hard to say how much of an impact Loudon really makes 'til you get down to the end and you look at the point standings. I think probably the most important part is just momentum for the team and keeping the morale of the team up. You don't want to start the Chase and get behind and feel like you've got a strike against you for the next nine weeks. If you can get that momentum early and even if you just have a solid, decent run, that can make a big difference in the morale of the team."
Jamie McMurray Even though he cut his racing teeth on short tracks in the Midwest, the relative short-track length of New Hampshire has not been kind to McMurray: He has just one top-five and two other top-10 finishes in 15 starts at New Hampshire. He's finished 18th in each of his last two starts there, including the race in June.
Juan Pablo Montoya Montoya makes his eighth career Sprint Cup start at New Hampshire on Sunday. In a way, the track owes him big-time: In last September's race weekend there, Montoya was fastest in all practice sessions, broke the track record in qualifying and led 105 of the race's 300 laps before finishing third. More recently, he started June's race at New Hampshire for the second consecutive time there from the pole but finished a disappointing 34th after wrecking.
AJ Allmendinger Although he failed to make the Chase, Allmendinger remained in 22nd place in the standings after his outstanding run at Richmond. He returns to New Hampshire after an outstanding run and a career-best 10th-place finish there in the June race, in which he progressively worked his way up through the field after qualifying 28th. After struggling through his first five appearances at New Hampshire, it appears 'Dinger has finally figured out the nuances and tricks of the one-mile flat oval: "The Chase starts this week, and that always makes things interesting from a competitor's standpoint. ... You've got the top 12 guys racing for a championship, which means there will be a certain amount of points racing. Then you've got the next seven or eight back racing for the last couple of spots in the top 15."
David Reutimann The Zephyrhills, Fla., native loves short-track racing at New Hampshire. After a rough start in his first two career starts there in 2007 (38th and 26th), he has finished 19th, 15th, 4th, 12th and was 15th in June's first of two yearly events at the flat one-mile oval.
Paul Menard New Hampshire Motor Speedway has not been a good track for Menard. In seven career starts on the one-mile flat oval, Menard's best finish has been a mediocre 21st in September 2008. Since then, he's finished 30th, 34th and was 28th in the event there in June. He started 13th in June, his best qualifying effort ever at New Hampshire. "We've struggled a bit the last couple of weeks, so we need to get back on track," Menard said. "With 10 races left this season, we've got 10 more opportunities and we plan to make the most of them."
Kyle Busch Busch moves up to fourth in the standings based on his three wins and has 5,030 points, 30 out of the lead, after finishing the regular season second in points, 228 behind Kevin Harvick. Busch has one win (June 2006), four top-five finishes and five top-10s in 11 starts at New Hampshire, including two top-10s in the last three races there. He was fifth in this race last year and 11th in June.
Kurt Busch Busch's two Cup wins this year give him 5,020 points, good for the fifth seed in the Chase and just 40 points out of the lead. Based on regular-season points, Busch would be 10th, 386 points out of the lead. Busch has three wins at New Hampshire (both 2004 races and June 2008), seven top-five finishes and 10 top-10s in 19 starts. He was sixth in this race last year and third in June. He has a streak of five top-10 finishes at New Hampshire, including three top-fives. "It's always good to go in under the radar; that's what helped us in 2004," Busch said. "We weren't expected to run up front and be contenders all the way through those 10 races. I can't quite pull that card anymore with what the end result was -- winning the (NASCAR) championship. ... We're going to do what we can to not make mistakes and position ourselves so that once the Chase is halfway through, we have a legitimate shot at it. We could be leading, we could be within 100 points -- that's what I call the range that I think you need to be in. Those guys got all the pressure to perform because they've done it the first 25 races."
Jeff Burton Burton has 5,000 points, 60 out of the lead. He would have been seventh, 333 out of first, in the regular-season standings. Burton has four wins (July 1997, July 1998, July 1999 and September 2000), eight top-five finishes and 13 top-10s in 31 starts at New Hampshire but has had just one top-10 in his last six starts there. He was 16th last September and 12th in June. "It's the points that you accumulate over 10 weeks," Burton said. "It doesn't matter when the points come. We try to tie this mental thing into numbers, but the fact of the matter is you take all the numbers and add them up at the end of 10 and the guy with the most points at the end of 10 wins. So it doesn't matter how you start at New Hampshire. The whole premise that you can focus differently from one race to the next, I don't understand that. Every race pays the same points. Every race you have to race the race track. Every race you have to go faster than everybody else. We have to put a great effort into every race. ... My way of thinking is that every track has to have the same effort put into it and that effort has to be a 100 percent effort and anything less than that won't be enough whether you're good there or not. Now the type of effort that you put in and your preparation changes for every race track, but the effort has to be 100 percent no matter what. ... I think everybody obviously has got Talladega on their mind. I mean, that's for obvious reasons -- I have no doubt that we'll go there and be fast enough to win that race because every restrictor place we've been in this year we've been fast enough to win. I feel good about that, but getting it done is a whole 'nother deal. I feel good about Phoenix. I feel good about New Hampshire. I feel good about Dover. I feel good about Martinsville. I feel good about Texas. When I go down and look at the race tracks that we're getting ready to go to, I like them. I think it works well for us, but we don't look at any one race track and say, 'That's the one we've got to do good on,' because it pays the same points as the other tracks. So we've got to put the right effort on every race track and we've got to do well at every race track. There is not one that we say, 'Oh my God!' -- including Talladega. We've just got to go do our business."
Greg Biffle Biffle, who starts the Chase seventh with 5,010 points thanks to his one victory this year, finished 12th in the regular-season standings, 502 points out of the lead. Now he's just 50 back. Biffle has one win (September 2008), four top-five finishes and six top-10s in 16 starts at New Hampshire. He was ninth last September and 16th in June. He has two top-10 finishes in his last four New Hampshire starts. "I feel good about our chances this year," Biffle said. "We have been running really well the last eight or nine weeks and got ourselves a good point margin, and it is a good thing we did because we didn't run very well the last couple of weeks. Other than that, we have run really good as a company and I fell we are on the upswing of things. Like Tony (Stewart) said, you have to capitalize on the places you are good at and try to survive the other ones. We have probably seven or eight good race tracks in the Chase for us, so we will get a few that we have to keep our head above water on."
Martin Truex Jr. Truex has nine career Sprint Cup starts at New Hampshire, with a best finish of third in July 2007. He's earned three top-fives and one other top-10 at the one-mile flat oval. "The pressure is off us now because we didn't make the Chase," he said. "But what we do have is the opportunity to still win races in the NAPA Toyota. This weekend we can take a few more chances and try a few more things. New Hampshire is like my home track and, to be honest, I just want to get back to victory lane. It's been way too long, and we're trying really, really hard. We just need to make it happen and put it all together. I love that place and know how to win there."
Jeff Gordon The first of the non-winners in the Chase, Gordon is eighth with 5,000 points. He would have been third in the regular standings, 230 out of the lead, but instead is 60 points back. Gordon has three wins (July 1995, September 1997 and August 1998), 14 top-five finishes and 17 top-10s in 31 starts at New Hampshire, including two top-fives in his last three starts there. He was 15th last September and fourth in June. "You don't want to start off in the hole," Gordon said. "You don't want to come out of there with a 30th or worse place finish, but we've seen that's not that significant in the past. Ten races is a lot more racing than people realize. There are a lot of points to be gained and lost. When you've got Talladega in there, anything can happen. So I think that you want to get it started off right, and I think it's a good track for us. So when we look at the 10 tracks, it's one that I feel like we are capable of coming out of there with a strong finish. We've tested at Milwaukee. We've been working really hard to try to be good there. And, again, I think everybody is in a little bit different situation. Us being down on the bonus points, I think that we're looking at that we've got to have 10 strong races to win it. It all starts at New Hampshire."
Casey Mears Newman and New Hampshire Motor Speedway have a great relationship. It was at the flat one-mile oval that Newman earned his first Cup win, in September 2002. He also won there three years later in September 2005. In 17 career starts at New Hampshire, Newman has five top-fives (including his two wins), 11 top-10s, four pole positions and has led 539 total laps. His average start is 8.1 and average finish is 13.3. "Loudon is unique; it's not flat, (but) it feels flat and it almost feels off-camber," he said. "But there's a lot of car control. Just the way the cars drive at that race track, I mean, it's very much a driver's race track, but to me it was also the birthplace of track position. I've always said it's never been my favorite track even though I've had some success there. I won my first race at Loudon and have had a blast in the Modifieds. I've always liked banked race tracks the best -- just my personal preference. Loudon is far from that."
Kasey Kahne Kahne has one top-five and five top-10 finishes in 13 starts at New Hampshire. "It's a track that has very long corners, so it's going to be important that we get our Budweiser Ford to roll really well through the center of the corners." Kahne started on the outside pole in the early summer race there on June 27 but struggled to a 36th-place finish because of engine problems. In fact, Kahne has failed to finish each of his last two starts at New Hampshire, making early exits both times because of engine failure.
Denny Hamlin Hamlin leaped from ninth place to first in the standings after Richmond by virtue of his series-high six victories. He begins the Chase with 5,060 points after ending the 26-race "regular season" a whopping 381 points behind Kevin Harvick. He has a 10-point lead in the Chase seeding. Hamlin has one win (summer 2007), three top-five finishes and six top-10s in nine New Hampshire starts, including three top-10s in the last five races there. He was second in this race last year and 14th in June. "I've made a lot of these Chases and made a lot of mistakes through these Chases," Hamlin said. "Every year I feel like we learn something. I feel like this year I'm as clear as I've ever been and we're winning at race tracks we don't usually win at. It means a lot for this whole race team. A lot of people bash this race team about 'Can't finish this or can't finish that,' but we got the most wins and hopefully that's going to carry us through 10 weeks of the Chase. I definitely feel like we spent the last two weeks trying to gauge where we are going to be and we brought what we had in the shop and said we are going to try to start our Chase early, and that way, when we got to Loudon, New Hampshire, we would be in the swing of our momentum, not trying to falsely start it. And I feel like we have done that. We could have had two wins in a row going into the Chase, but last week is in the past and right now I just feel really confident in the team."
Marcos Ambrose Ambrose has been knocking on victory's door in the Sprint Cup Series several times the last two years. And given the performances he's shown several times, particularly in 2010, it's just a matter of time before the Australian finds his way to victory lane. Frankly, he's become an exceptional short-track driver on the Cup circuit in a short time, and New Hampshire could be just the place for him to earn his first career Cup triumph. Speaking of New Hampshire, Ambrose has continued to get progressively better on the flat one-mile oval: In three starts there he has gone from finishing 23rd to 20th to 13th.
Jimmie Johnson Johnson went from seventh to second in the standings thanks to his five victories, and he begins the Chase with 5,050 points. Johnson was 306 points out of first place based on the "regular season" standings, but he trails Hamlin by only 10 in the Chase standings. Johnson won both races at New Hampshire in 2003 and also won there in June. He has six top-five and 12 top-10 finishes in 17 starts and is on a streak of seven straight top-10s and nine top-10s in his last 10 starts at the "Magic Mile." "New Hampshire has been on everyone's mind (since) Daytona," Johnson said. "Everybody knows that that race is coming and that is when the Chase starts, and everybody hopes to be one of the 12 drivers in the Chase. As you start to lock in and know that you are going to lock in, you really draw all attention to that race and then all the races following. You start getting into Dover and looking into your setups for Dover and start to work on all those races, so we are in that category and we have been looking at Loudon and we feel very confident with the Loudon race track because we won there in the spring and we had a very dominant car throughout the day, so it's top of mind for us, too, and we have been doing some testing, too, and I think the performance we had in Atlanta was a great step for this team at the 1.5-mile tracks, so hopefully we have got momentum and performance coming at the right time."
Mark Martin Martin, who makes his 28th career start at New Hampshire on Sunday, finally earned his first career win there last September. He has eight other top-five and five other top-10 finishes at the flat one-mile oval. Martin finished 21st in his last start there in June after an outstanding fourth-place qualifying effort. Martin enters the Chase in 15th, and the best he or any other non-Chase driver can finish is 13th. "We as a team have got to figure out how to make our GoDaddy.com Chevrolet faster," Martin said. "That's what we're focused on. Being 13th in points doesn't matter. Winning would be great. Contending for wins is what we're fighting for. We made some big changes during Richmond that had us headed in the right direction. It's going to take risks like that and experimenting to get there. We all have to give 100 percent, and that's what we're going to do."
Kevin Harvick After leading the points for most of the season, Harvick starts the Chase third with 5,030 points, 30 out of the lead, based on his three victories. Harvick ended the first 26 races with a 228-point lead over second-place Kyle Busch, but those points are reset at the start of the Chase. Harvick has one win (September 2006), four top-five finishes and 10 top-10s in 19 New Hampshire starts but has finished out of the top 10 the last four times he has raced there. He was 12th in this race last year and 24th in June. "I think it's been a great race track for us," Harvick said. "We ran well there last time. Jeff (Burton, his teammate) probably had the fastest car last time, so I feel like we have the opportunity to go up there and run well. I think it's important to just go there and have a solid day. If we can put ourselves in position to win, that would be great. It would be nice to get started on the right foot, but I don't think winning necessarily has to happen at that particular race. I think we've got good momentum now. I think we have to take what we built upon and try to maintain that as we go from week to week. The season is not just starting at New Hampshire. It's not really how we've raced or do anything different, it's just go do the same thing."
Joey Logano Born and raised in nearby Middletown, Conn., Logano returns to one of his most successful race tracks and one he considers his "home" track on the Sprint Cup Series. It was at the one-mile New Hampshire Motor Speedway that Logano earned his first career Sprint Cup win in June 2009. While he finished 21st when he returned there last fall, he rebounded to a ninth-place finish at New Hampshire in June. "Last weekend (at Richmond) was a huge boost for the entire Home Depot team; we really needed that run," he said. "I wish I could say that Loudon is my favorite track on the circuit, but unfortunately it was one of the toughest tracks for me to get used to in a Cup car. ... Hopefully between the momentum from Richmond and building on the last race in Loudon, we should be able to come out with another solid finish."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. One of Earnhardt's bright spots in the 2010 season was at New Hampshire, which makes sense since it's one of his favorite tracks. Earnhardt finished eighth in June, one of just six top-10 finishes that he's had this season. Given how miserably he and the team have fared the last several weeks, returning to New Hampshire should be a welcome site for Junior and Co. While he has never won there, he has five career top-fives and four other top-10s in 27 career starts at New Hampshire.
Matt Kenseth After failing to make the Chase last year for the first time in its prior six-year existence, Kenseth returns to make the seventh edition of the Chase in 2010. "I'm really happy that we're a part of the Chase this year. Now our focus has to be to make sure we go out and perform the best we can so that we're able to close up some of the point difference between where we're at vs. the leaders." This will be Kenseth's 22nd career start at New Hampshire. While he has never won there, he has five top-fives, six other top-10s and one pole position. "New Hampshire is a track that has always been a challenge for me, and I feel like it hasn't been one of my better tracks on the circuit, but we seem to be pretty consistent here, statistically speaking," Kenseth said. Even though he has had some good consistency throughout the first 26 races, the Wisconsin native is one of five Chase competitors who still have not won a race in 2010.