New Hampshire 101: Story lines, TV times, Goodyear tires and more

·6 min read
New Hampshire 101: Story lines, TV times, Goodyear tires and more

The NASCAR Cup Series ships up to New England this weekend in a return to New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Get set for racing around the 1-mile oval before Sunday (3 p.m. ET, USA Network, NBC Sports App, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) with plenty of storylines ahead.

MAKING HOT LAPS

Teams will be allotted 15-minute practice sessions on Saturday (11:30 a.m. ET, NBC Sports App; TV coverage starting at noon ET on USA Network) with the 36 entries divided into Groups A and B.

That precedes single-car, single-lap qualifying (12:20 p.m. ET, USA Network), which will set the starting lineup for Sunday‘s Ambetter 301. The fastest five drivers from each group will advance to the final round of qualifying, where those 10 drivers will compete for the pole. The fastest lap earns the Busch Light Pole Award.

RELATED: Qualifying order | Weekend schedule | How to watch on TV

NEW HAMPSHIRE HISTORY

— New Hampshire Motor Speedway was built at the site of the former Bryar Motorsports Park. It is the largest sporting venue in New England at more than 1,100 acres and seating for more than 92,000. It is 75 miles north of Boston, 42 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean and 250 miles from Montreal.

— Bryar opened as a kart track in 1960. A 0.2-mile dirt oval ran near the later paved tracks from 1961-63; it was also referred to as Route 106 Midway Raceway. The 1.6-mile road course ran cars from 1964-88 and motorcycles only in 1989. A paved 0.2-mile oval ran from 1965-88, and a 0.625-mile paved oval from 1968-88. A 0.25-mile paved drag strip operated in the 1970s.

— Bob Bahre purchased Bryar in 1989. The existing complex was dismantled, and the 1-mile paved oval and 1.6-mile paved road course were built with much of the work done by Bob Bahre and his brother, Dick. After just nine months of construction the oval successfully opened on July 15, 1990, with an Xfinity Series race won by Tommy Ellis over Harry Gant.

— The first NASCAR Winston Cup race was on July 11, 1993, won by Team Penske driver Rusty Wallace over pole winner Mark Martin.

Source: Racing Insights

GOODYEAR TIRES

Although Cup teams haven‘t visited New Hampshire to race with the Next Gen car yet, there will be some familiarity this weekend.

Goodyear is providing the same tire setup at the Loudon, New Hampshire, oval that has been used at Phoenix Raceway, Richmond Raceway and Worldwide Technology Raceway at Gateway.

“Loudon falls into a significant group of tracks, so Cup teams have been on this tire set-up three times already this season,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear‘s director of racing. “Having that experience, and now having raced this Next Gen car for five months, teams have had time to work through which settings work for their cars. In looking for grip, air pressure has always been a prime tuning tool for teams at Loudon. Combined with a team‘s shock and camber settings, that will be the case again this weekend.”

Scott Miller, NASCAR‘s senior vice president of competition, said Tuesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that PJ1 traction compound is “a thing of the past” in lieu of what resin has provided instead. Whether we see resin in the outside lanes of New Hampshire this weekend, however, remained undetermined.

“There is actually some discussion going on right now amongst the drivers and ourselves about what we need to do this weekend,” Miller said. “Last year, we didn‘t spray the track up there. We had planned on it, but the way the rain was around the weekend, there was never an opportune time to do so and the track raced pretty good last year.”

NEW HAMPSHIRE STORY LINES

— Seven races remain in the Cup Series’ regular season.

— The longest top-10 finish streak by a driver this year is five races, four times: Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch, Christopher Bell and Ross Chastain. Chastain’s streak is active.

— Kevin Harvick is on a 62-race winless streak, the second longest of his career. 21 drivers have won since Harvick‘s last win.

— Kyle Larson is on a 17-race winless streak, the longest of his career at Hendrick Motorsports.

— Hendrick Motorsports has not won at New Hampshire since Kasey Kahne’s victory in July 2012. Since then, HMS has won four championships and 83 races at 25 different venues. Larson is the only active Hendrick driver who had made a NASCAR National Series start (Kentucky, Camping World Truck Series) when Kahne won.

Source: Racing Insights

TAKING THE FAVORITES FOR ‘GRANITE?’

Chase Elliott is the man to beat these days, scoring his series-leading third victory a week ago at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The 2020 Cup Series champion is listed as the 10-1 favorite Sunday, courtesy of BetMGM’s odds. However, this might be a week to stay away from the No. 9 Chevrolet. In eight starts at the “Magic Mile”, Elliott has one top five (2018) and one other top-10 finish (ninth, 2020). Hendrick Motorsports hasn’t won in Loudon in a decade, so avoiding Elliott seems to be the safer choice here.

On the other hand, Ford has been stellar on flat, mile-long ovals — both historically and this season. The Blue Ovals have won the last four races in New Hampshire, including three victories for Stewart-Haas Racing. Chase Briscoe, another SHR driver, took the victory in Phoenix this spring and Joey Logano was victorious at Gateway. Harvick scored his season-best finish (second) at Richmond earlier this year. Those results all came on this tire compound.

All that said, Harvick opens at 16-1 odds on BetMGM as the third-best bet in the field. Is this the week his 62-race winning streak comes to a close? Certainly seems plausible.

RELATED: Complete list of Sunday’s odds

FANTASY LIVE

Want to manage a team and race your way to the top of the leaderboards? Check out NASCAR Fantasy Live, which is open now. The free-to-play game lets you choose your drivers each week and show off your crew-chief instincts by garaging a driver by the end of Stage 3, and there is a $25,000 prize for the winner.

The 2022 Fantasy Live points leaders are Chase Elliott (618), Ryan Blaney (583) and Ross Chastain (578).

How to play: Fantasy Live | Set up a team today!

ALSO ON NASCAR.COM

Get additional camera views by logging on to NASCAR Drive, where each week a select number of in-car cameras will be available — as well as a battle cam and an overhead look.

NASCAR has partnered with LiveLike to add fan engagement in the NASCAR Mobile App. Log in to the mobile app during the race for polls, quizzes, the cheer meter and more — and see instant results from NASCAR fans like you.