Idriver Handicaps:/I New Hampshire

Who's HOT at New Hampshire
  • Kurt Busch swept both races last season and finished second in July.
  • Kasey Kahne has finished eighth or better in his three starts at New Hampshire.
  • Jimmie Johnson has finished 13th or better since this event in 2002. He also swept both races in 2003.
  • Ryan Newman has finished ninth or better, including one win, in six of the seven races he has competed in at New Hampshire.

    Who's NOT
  • Kyle Petty has finished 21st or worse in the last 12 races at New Hampshire.
  • Scott Riggs has a 28.7 finishing average in three starts at New Hampshire.
  • Dave Blaney has yet to score a top-10 finish in 11 races at New Hampshire.
  • Jeremy Mayfield has the worst finishing average (25.4) among the "Chase" contenders.
  • Scott Wimmer's best finish in four races is 18th.

    Who's HOT as of late
  • Matt Kenseth has finished seventh or better in five of the last six races. He also has put together a streak of six consecutive top-10 finishes at New Hampshire.
  • Kyle Busch has one win and a fourth-place finish in the last two races. He finished fourth in his first start at New Hampshire in July.

    Who Else to Watch
  • Tony Stewart will be looking to become the third consecutive driver to sweep New Hampshire.
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be reunited with crew chief Tony Eury Jr. and will go after his sixth top-10 finish at New Hampshire.
  • Jeff Gordon has the best finishing average (10.7) among all drivers that have started every race at New Hampshire since 1998. Gordon will also have a new crew chief starting this weekend - Steve Letarte.
  • Greg Biffle is coming off his first top-five finish at New Hampshire.
  • Mark Martin hasn't had much luck at New Hampshire as of late, but he will be behind the wheel of the same chassis Kurt Busch wheeled to victory last weekend at Richmond.
  • Bobby Labonte, who finished third in July, has a 9.8 average finish in the last 10 races at NHIS.

    1. Tony Stewart
    Avg Start: 11.9
    Avg Finish: 13.5

    In 13 starts at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway, Stewart has two wins (most recently in July), seven top-five and eight top-10 finishes. Stewart, who has led in six races for 563 laps, led a combined total of 388 laps in the two races he won. The team is bringing chassis No. 63 to Loudon this weekend. The car has been around the block with Tony, first seeing testing in 2003. Since its race debut that year at Martinsville, the car has raced six more times with its last trip ending up at Victory Lane at NHIS in July after leading 232 laps.

    Quotable: "New Hampshire is a tough track to pass on. You can be a couple of tenths faster than a guy, but it still takes you 20 laps to get by him."

    2. Greg Biffle
    Avg Start: 12.2
    Avg Finish: 24.7

    Biffle has two top-10 finishes and four finishes of 27th or worse, including two DNFs, in six starts at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway. In July, he notched his best finish of fifth. Biffle, who has yet to lead a lap at NHIS, will be driving chassis No. RK-229 in Sunday's Sylvania 300. This car started second and finished third last weekend at Richmond.

    Quotable: "New Hampshire hasn't been the best track for us but I think we're getting it figured out. We had a fifth place finish there in July and we're taking the same car this weekend that we ran in Richmond last weekend. It was a brand new car last weekend and it was the best car I've ever had at Richmond."

    3. Rusty Wallace
    Avg Start: 12.8
    Avg Finish: 13.3

    Wallace won the first race at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway on July 11, 1993. In that race he started 33rd and led 106 laps. Since then, Wallace has gone on to capture two poles, six top-five and 12 top-10 finishes at Loudon. Wallace will race chassis No. PRS-064 for the fifth time since its debut at Richmond in September 2003, where it finished fifth.

    Quotable: "We went into the history book as the very first NASCAR Cup winner at Loudon and it certainly would be great to end my career of racing there with another win."

    4. Jimmie Johnson
    Avg Start: 8.9
    Avg Finish: 8.7

    Johnson is one of two drivers that has swept both events at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway since the track started to hold two races in 1997. Johnson, who won both races in 2003, has led in three of his six career races at NHIS for a total of 73 laps. Last year, Johnson started second and finished 11th in both races. His 8.7 finishing average is the best among active drivers with seven or more starts. Johnson will be back in the same car (chassis No. 48354) that finished 13th at NHIS in July.

    Quotable: "We tested Milwaukee and felt really good about what we learned and feel like it will crossover and hopefully it will all go well."

    5. Kurt Busch
    Avg Start: 18.8
    Avg Finish: 11.4

    Busch swept both races last season at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway after leading a combined 265 laps. He started fifth, led six laps, and finished fifth in July. The finish was his fifth top 10 at NHIS. He will drive the same car (chassis No. 52) that has captured a win four times since 2002, including both 2004 NHIS races and Phoenix in April.

    Quotable: "We've found a set-up for our Sharpie Ford that works well in all the grooves here at Loudon. The set-up that we've had here will definitely help us run well, but you always have to be adapting and changing to keep up with the current track conditions."

    6. Mark Martin
    Avg Start: 14.5
    Avg Finish: 11.5

    Martin's last of 11 top-10 finishes at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway came in the second race in 2001, when he placed ninth. He has yet to win at Loudon, but got off to a good start in the first eleven races, finishing in the top five seven times and leading for a combined 364 laps. He will drive the same car (chassis RK-48) that his teammate Kurt Bush drove to victory last weekend at Richmond.

    Quotable: "I can't say enough about the effort of this team. Up to this point we've accomplished our goal of making the Chase. Now it's time to shift our focus to the last 10 races and going after that Championship."

    7. Jeremy Mayfield
    Avg Start: 18.7
    Avg Finish: 25.4

    Mayfield's best finish in 19 starts at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway is an eighth, which came in this event in 2000. That race is the only time Mayfield has led a lap (led for 10 laps) at the 1.058-mile track. He scored another top-10 finish (10th) in the July event last season. Mayfield will be racing chassis No. 120 in Sunday's New England 300. This car finished sixth last weekend at Richmond.

    Quotable: "It's great to be back in the Chase for the Championship. We won’t have any different strategy for the ten races."

    8. Carl Edwards
    Avg Start: 20.5
    Avg Finish: 16.0

    After clinching his spot in the "Chase" last weekend, Edwards became the first driver to enter the "Chase" in their first full season of NEXTEL Cup racing. He's raced two times at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway starting both times outside the top-20 and finishing both times outside of the top-10. His best finish of 12th at the track came in the July race. He finished second to Jimmy Spencer in his first Craftsman Truck Series race at NHIS in 2003. Edwards will race the Office Depot colors on chassis number RK-249, which was raced at Phoenix in the spring.

    Quotable: "I've learned a lot about New Hampshire over the last couple of races. It's flat and fast and I think I'm improving with every lap that I run there."

    9. Matt Kenseth
    Avg Start: 17.5
    Avg Finish: 11.4

    Kenseth will make his 12th start at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway this weekend in chassis RK-23, which has been raced this season at Phoenix, Loudon and Richmond. He has four top fives, seven top 10s, one pole and has led 85 laps at the track. His best finish of second at the track came in this event last year.

    Quotable: "I feel like the way our cars are running right now and the way this team is working together, we have a legitimate shot at the championship."

    10. Ryan Newman
    Avg Start: 5.7
    Avg Finish: 8.9

    New Hampshire Int'l Speedway is the site of Newman's first career NEXTEL Cup victory. The win, his only victory in seven NHIS starts, came after he won his first of three poles at the "Magic Mile." Newman has led in every NHIS race for a total of 433 laps, which is fourth among active drivers. Last September, Newman lost the engine in the Alltel Dodge while leading, relegating him to a 33rd-place finish, his only DNF and finish outside the top nine at NHIS. Newman is currently tied with Jeff Gordon with three poles at Loudon. He will race the same car (chassis: PRS-55) that finished third, 33rd and seventh, respectively, in the last three races at New Hampshire.

    Quotable: "We have a legitimate chance of winning our first championship. Kurt (Busch) proved last year that it's all about consistency, so that's what we're aiming for."

    11. Elliott Sadler
    Avg Start: 23.0
    Avg Finish: 20.3

    Last September, Sadler equaled his best finish (eighth) at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway. In that race he led for the second time in his career at the track when he held the No. 38 Ford out front for 20 laps. After scoring his best qualifying effort (third) in July, Sadler crashed into the third turn wall after contact from Mark Martin relegating him to a 39th-place finish and his second DNF at NHIS.

    12. Jeff Gordon
    Avg Start: 10.6
    Avg Finish: 12.6

    Gordon is the leader among active drivers in top-fives (nine), races led (13) and laps led (1,067) at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway. He is tied with Ryan Newman with three poles. His last of three victories came from the pole on August 30, 1998. In July, Gordon suffered a late race problem when his brakes gave out less than 15 laps from the checkered flag. After running in the top 10 most of the day, Gordon was credited with a 25th-place finish. Last year, Gordon finished second and seventh, respectively, and led 21 laps from the pole in the second event at NHIS.

    13. Jamie McMurray
    Avg Start: 11.6
    Avg Finish: 20.4

    McMurray is coming off his second DNF at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway after crashing out of the race early in July. The incident, which was brought on by Matt Kenseth, relegated McMurray to a 40th-place finish. Last season, McMurray finished in the top 10 in both races at NHIS for the first time in four career starts. His best finish came in this event after he brought home the No. 42 Dodge in fifth place. McMurray posted his best start (third) at the "Magic Mile" in the 2003 September race with a lap of 132.131 mph. He will drive chassis No. 407 for the first time in 2005 in Sunday's race.

    14. Kevin Harvick
    Avg Start: 16.1
    Avg Finish: 15.1

    Harvick captured his fourth top-10 finish last September at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway when he finished 10th. His best finish (second) came in this event in 2003 after leading 53 laps - his career high at the track. Harvick has led in five races at Loudon for a total of 67 laps. This weekend, Harvick will be behind the wheel of the same car (chassis No. 120) that won at Bristol Motor Speedway and won the pole at Richmond last weekend.

    15. Joe Nemechek
    Avg Start: 23.1
    Avg Finish: 22.6

    New Hampshire Int'l Speedway is the site of Nemechek's first NEXTEL Cup start (July 11, 1993) and win (September 19, 1999). Nemechek's 1999 win, which came with Felix Sabates, saw him lead 72 laps for the first of two races at NHIS. Last fall, he posted his fifth top 10 with a sixth-place finish.

    16. Dale Jarrett
    Avg Start: 15.3
    Avg Finish: 12.3

    Jarrett, the 2001 July winner at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway, currently leads all active drivers with 14 top-10 finishes at the 1.058-mile track. He has led in nine races at NHIS for a total of 303 laps, with the last time being in the 2002 July race. Jarrett will race chassis No. 37 for the second time this season. This car first saw action at California Speedway earlier this month where it finished 24th.

    17. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
    Avg Start: 16.7
    Avg Finish: 18.0

    Earnhardt Jr. has captured five top 10s, with a best of third last September, in 12 starts at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway. He has led in four races at NHIS for a total of 167 laps. His finishing average is 18.8. Earnhardt, who will be reunited with crew chief Tony Eury, Jr., will race chassis No. 39 in the Sylvania 300. This is the same car that finished ninth at NHIS in July.

    18. Brian Vickers
    Avg Start: 16.0
    Avg Finish: 22.3

    After winning the pole at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway in the July race, Vickers went on to lead 10 laps (first time at NHIS) en route to an 11th-place finish, his best effort in three starts at NHIS. He finished 34th and 22nd, respectively, in his first two starts in 2004. Vickers will be behind the wheel of the same car (chassis No. 309) that finished 35th at Martinsville in April.

    19. Kyle Busch
    Avg Start: 7.0
    Avg Finish: 4.0

    In July, Busch started seventh and finished fourth in his first NEXTEL Cup race at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway. He will run Saturday's Truck Series race at NHIS, which will be the 11th time this season he has been in multiple events in one weekend.

    20. Kasey Kahne
    Avg Start: 6.7
    Avg Finish: 6.0

    Kahne has finished in the top 10 in his three starts at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway. He led for the second time (18 laps) at NHIS in July, when he finished a best sixth. Kahne also scored another career best at NHIS this year when he qualified second. He will be driving the same car (chassis No. 61) that raced in both races at Richmond this season finishing first and eighth, respectively.

    21. Jeff Burton
    Avg Start: 20.7
    Avg Finish: 14.0

    On no other track has Jeff Burton scored more victories than New Hampshire Int'l Speedway. He has claimed four victories at the "Magic Mile", one each year beginning in 1997. His last win there was on September 17, 2000, where he started second and went on to lead all 300 laps of the race. In his third win at the track, Burton won from the furthest back of any NHIS winner after he started 38th and led for only two laps. The track is sentimental as well for one other reason, as it was the site of his NEXTEL Cup debut at this event in 1993. He has started in every race at the track since, with a total of seven top fives, eight top 10s and has led a total of 605 laps in eight races. The No. 31 RCR team is racing a brand new car (chassis No. 153) that was tested at The Milwaukee Mile.

    22. Michael Waltrip
    Avg Start: 19.1
    Avg Finish: 23.5

    Waltrip finished in the top 10 in both races at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway in 2004. His sixth-place finish in the July event last year is his best to date, and fourth top 10, in 21 races at NHIS. He has led in five races at Loudon, including a high 39 laps last September. He will be in the same car (chassis No. 21) that he finished 31st with last weekend at Richmond.

    23. Ricky Rudd
    Avg Start: 20.3
    Avg Finish: 15.9

    Rudd won the 1994 race at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway from the third position during a streak that saw him score five consecutive top-10 finishes at the track. He ended a streak of two consecutive DNFs - finishing 37th or worse in both races in 2004 - in July when he finished 23rd. His best finish at Loudon with the Wood Brothers came in the September race, when he finished second. It was also the last of four times Rudd has led a lap at NHIS. Overall, Rudd has seven top fives and 10 top 10s.

    24. Bobby Labonte
    Avg Start: 11.1
    Avg Finish: 13.2

    Labonte has started in every race at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway posting nine top 10s, his last (third) coming in the July event. His best finish at the "Magic Mile" was second on September 17, 2000, after he started on the pole for the only time at the track. Labonte has led 62 laps in eight races, with the last time in the 2001 fall event. The team is bringing chassis No. 84, which raced this year at NHIS and at Phoenix and Richmond where it finished eighth.

    36. Robby Gordon
    Points: 1603
    Avg Start: 26.9
    Avg Finish: 20.1

    Gordon is the third and final driver that has won their first NEXTEL Cup Series race at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway. The win came in Gordon's 62nd career race after he nudged Jeff Gordon out of the lead with 15 laps to go. It was his first of three top-10 finishes at NHIS.

    RacingOne Staff Picks:

    Pete Pistone: Tony Stewart
    Rick Benjamin: Kurt Busch
    Ron Lemasters: Greg Biffle
    Jeff Wackerlin: Ryan Newman

    Jeff (Greg Biffle-California, Kevin Harvick-Bristol, Jeff Gordon-Martinsville, Tony Stewart-Daytona)
    Rick (Jeff Gordon-Talladega, Greg Biffle-Michigan, Kurt Busch-Richmond)
    Ron (Tony Stewart-Infineon, Tony Stewart-Indianapolis, Tony Stewart-Watkins Glen)
    Pete Zip, Zero, Nada

    Sylvania 300
    New Hampshire Int'l Speedway

    TV: TNT, 12:30 p.m. (ET).
    Radio: MRN/XM Satellite.
    Race length: 300 Laps, 317 miles.

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