The NASCAR Cup Series makes its lone trip to the Granite State for Sunday’s Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN/NBC Sports App, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
With the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series taking the weekend off, the NASCAR Cup Series will be the only national series in action for the 301-lap, 318.46-mile event.
Before we get set to race at the “Magic Mile,” here’s a primer for the 20th race of the NASCAR Cup Series season with just seven races remaining in the regular season.
New Hampshire Motor Speedway, located in Loudon and about an hour north of Boston, is a 1.058-mile asphalt oval that opened in 1990. The speedway was built by the late Bob Bahre, who passed away earlier this month at the age of 93, as well as his brother, Gary. The turns have 2-7 degrees of variable banking, while the 1,500-foot long straightaways have 1 degree of banking.
Rusty Wallace won the first NASCAR Cup Series race held at the track coined the “Magic Mile” on July 11, 1993 while driving the No. 2 Team Penske Pontiac. Forty-eight Cup Series races have been held at the facility in total.
The Cup Series experimented with restrictor plates at New Hampshire in second event held in 2000. Jeff Burton led all 300 laps in the race, the third time in Cup Series history where a driver led every circuit of an event. Cale Yarborough accomplished the feat at Bristol Motor Speedway in 1973 and Nashville Speedway in 1978.
The track, originally named New Hampshire International Speedway, was officially purchased by Bruton Smith and Speedway Motorsports, Inc. on Jan. 11, 2008.
Stage 1 is set to end at Lap 75, Stage 2 at Lap 185, and the final stage is slated to conclude on Lap 301.
The NASCAR Cup Series race will again be structured without practice and qualifying as the sanctioning body attempts to limit exposure for on-site personnel to control COVID-19’s spread. Sunday’s starting lineup will be determined by a random draw among groups in the team owner standings:
Positions 1-12: Random draw from charter teams in those positions in owner points
Positions 13-24: Random draw from charter teams in those positions in owner points
Positions 25-36: Random draw from charter teams in those positions in owner points
Positions 37-40: Open teams in order of owners points
Pit-stall selection is based on the finishing order from the July 23 race at Kansas Speedway. See where drivers will pit.
The 2020 NASCAR rules package for short tracks and road courses will be in effect, a reduced downforce package that features a 1.17-inch tapered spacer used to achieve a target of 750 horsepower, significantly smaller rear spoiler at 2.75 inches, a quarter-inch front splitter overhang with approximately 2-inch wings and alterations to the radiator pan and the removal of its vertical fencing to reduce front-end downforce.
Since it is relatively flat, New Hampshire Motor Speedway produces minimal load compared to more high-banked tracks. Grip is therefore generated through the compounds Goodyear selects for its tire setup. Both the left- and right-side compounds have changed since last year’s race and will add grip. Teams will also try to gain grip by going below the recommended air pressures. Low left-side pressures, which some teams run down into the single digits, can cause the sidewall to over-deflect and damage the tire carcass to the point of air loss.
“We have a different tire setup at New Hampshire this year, and it is the same as what we run at Phoenix (Raceway),” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing. “This setup has different tread compounds than we ran at Loudon last year, and teams should see a grip enhancement as a result. The real benefit is that Loudon and Phoenix are now aligned once again, which is how it had been in the past until Phoenix was repaved about a decade ago. This will give playoff teams another race with this setup and will help them as they build their notebook for championship weekend in November.”
Teams will be allowed seven sets of tires.
STATS TO KNOW
— Kevin Harvick has won three out of the last five New Hampshire races, while the last eight events have either been won by Harvick or a Joe Gibbs Racing driver. Denny Hamlin, the other heavy championship favorite this season, has earned one win in that eight-race span.
— Are a couple of rookies set to heat up as the playoffs inch closer? With a win at Kentucky Speedway under his belt, Cole Custer has finished in the top 10 in three of the last four races in 2020 as has Tyler Reddick. Christopher Bell is no stranger to Victory Lane at New Hampshire, winning in both Xfinity Series starts and one of two Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series starts.
— Aric Almirola enters Sunday with an eight-race string of top-10 finishes, best in the Cup Series, but the Stewart-Haas Racing driver only has one top 10 in the last eight races at New Hampshire.
— Brad Keselowski is quietly enjoying his career-best Cup Series season. Keselowski’s 14 top-10 finishes so far this season are his best all time through 19 races. For the No. 2 Team Penske driver, New Hampshire ranks third among most top 10s in his career, owning 12 top 10s in 19 starts.
— Martin Truex Jr. owns top 10s in the last five races at New Hampshire, but he leads the all-time list when it comes to laps led in Loudon without a victory, pacing the field for 744 laps in 26 starts. Truex’s best finish is third.
Source: NASCAR statistics, Racing Insights
Tune in to television coverage Sunday on NBCSN (3 p.m. ET) or on the NBC Sports App. For full radio coverage from New Hampshire Motor Speedway, listen in to PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, Channel 90.
RELATED: Ways to follow the races
For a more interactive experience, steer over to NASCAR.com or the NASCAR app to check out an enhanced Race Center, live Lap-by-Lap coverage, the customizable live leaderboard with Scanner and the return of Drive (featuring in-car cameras).
2019 RACE WINNER
Riding a 21-race winless streak that continued through the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series season up to this point, Kevin Harvick reversed the tide by earning victory in the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire. Harvick scored his fourth career victory at the track by holding off a hard-charging Denny Hamlin on older tires in the closing laps. The year prior, Harvick nudged Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Kyle Busch, out of the way in the final circuits to record the first of two consecutive triumphs in Loudon.
ACTIVE NEW HAMPSHIRE WINNERS
Kevin Harvick (four); Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman (three); Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano (two); Brad Keselowski (one)