Driver Handicaps: New Hampshire

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This weekend the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series heads to New Hampshire International Speedway for the LENOX Industrial Tools 300. To help you make your Dale Jr. Reality Cup Racing fantasy picks, RacingOne brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for the 300-lap event.

Who's HOT at New Hampshire International Speedway
  • Ryan Newman has finished ninth or better, including two wins, in seven of the eight races he has competed in.
  • Jimmie Johnson has finished 15th or better in eight races. He also swept both races in 2003.
  • Jeff Burton leads all drivers with four victories.
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. has finished ninth or better in five of the last six races.
  • Jeff Gordon is the leader in top-fives (nine), races led (14) and laps led (1,067).
  • Kurt Busch swept both races in 2004 and finished second in this event last year.
  • Tony Stewart finished first and second, respectively, last season.

    Keep an Eye on at New Hampshire
  • Kyle Busch finished fourth in this event last year - his first Cup start at the track.
  • Jamie McMurray will have the race sponsor on his car, and will have the same chassis that won last year's September Richmond race.
  • Kasey Kahne has finished eighth or better in three of his four starts.
  • Greg Biffle is coming off his first and second top-five finishes at NHIS.
  • Matt Kenseth and Bobby Labonte, respectively, have the third and fourth best average finishes over the last 10 races.
  • Rookies Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. have had success in the Busch Series at NHIS.
  • Mark Martin posted his 12th top 10 last September.

    New Hampshire Rookie Report
    None of the Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidates have competed in a NEXTEL Cup Series race at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway. All have made at least one start in the Busch Series at NHIS with Martin Truex Jr. scoring the only win among the group. Denny Hamlin, who is strong on the flat tracks, finished third in his only start at the track in 2005. J.J. Yeley is the only other rookie that has posted a top 10, finishing sixth last season. Hamlin has led the most laps among the rookies at NHIS with 67. Truex does have some track time in the Cup Series at New Hampshire after relieving Dale Earnhardt Jr. in this event in 2004. Truex, Jr., who made his debut in the Cup Series in that race, suffered through a long day that included a trip into the outside wall on lap 141. The No. 8 car was credited with a 31st-place finish.

    Qualifying Tidbits
    Last season, Brian Vickers and Tony Stewart, repectively, won both poles at New Hampshire International Speedway giving Chevrolet a season sweep and their first track pole(s) since 2001. Ryan Newman, who has won three of the last five poles when qualifying has been contested, is the track record holder with a lap of 133.357 mph. Qualifying has been cancelled three times over the last 10 races due to weather. Rusty Wallace is the last to win a pole in a Ford, accomplishing the feat in 2000. In the 22 races at NHIS, 11 have been won from within a top-10 starting position. Jeff Burton won from the furthest stating position in this event in 1999 when he started 38th. Past Pole Winners

    New Hampshire Int'l Speedway Loop Data Stat Leaders (2005 Season)
  • Tony Stewart is the fastest driver early in a run during the first 25 percent of a green flag run at 127.207 mph (Must have completed 75% of scheduled laps). Ryan Newman, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch round out the top five.
  • Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman, respectively, hold an average running position of 2.6 and 6.9.
  • Kurt Busch is the fastest driver late in a run at 125.363 mph (Fastest speed during last 25 percent of standard green flag run. Must have completed 75% of scheduled laps). Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. round out the top five.
  • Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon, respectively, have completed 28 and 26.5 quality passes (Passing a car running in the Top 15 while under a green flag).
  • Tony Stewart has the best Driver Rating at 146.1.

    Dale Jr. Reality Cup Tiebreakers

    Last Five Number of Lead Changes
    2005-18
    2005-14
    2004-4
    2004-15
    2003-14

    Last Five Number of Caution Laps
    2005-60
    2005-49
    2004-62
    2004-30
    2003-63

    More Driver Notes (In Order of Points Standings)

    1. Jimmie Johnson (Points: 2651): 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 eight career races at NHIS for a total of 73 laps. Last year, Johnson finished 13th and eighth, respectively, in both races. His 8.6 finishing average is second best among active drivers.

    2. Matt Kenseth (Points Behind: -51): Kenseth has finished in the top 10 in his last seven starts at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway. The only other time Kenseth finished with a top 10 at NHIS came in 2001 - his fourth of 12 overall starts at the track. The last time Kenseth led a lap at Loudon came in the September 2003 race when he held the No. 17 up front for seven laps.

    3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Points Behind: -257): Earnhardt Jr. has captured six top 10s, with a best of third (September 2004), in 13 starts at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway. In five of the last six races at NHIS, Junior has finished ninth or better. He has led in five races at NHIS for a total of 175 laps. Last September, Earnhardt posted a fifth-place finish in his first race back with chief Tony Eury Jr.

    4. Jeff Burton (Points Behind: -324): 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, nine top 10s and has led a total of 605 laps in eight races. His best NHIS finish with Richard Childress Racing came last September when he placed ninth.

    5. Kasey Kahne (Points Behind: -348): Last September, Kahne posted his first DNF at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway, finishing 38th. The finish, which was caused when Kyle Busch made contact with Kahne on lap 49, ended a streak of three consecutive finishes of eighth or better at NHIS.

    6. Mark Martin (Points Behind: -360): Martin captured his first top 10 - 12th overall - in the last eight races at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway last September after finishing seventh. 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.

    7. Tony Stewart (Points Behind: -377): In 14 starts at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway, Stewart has two wins (most recently in this event last year), eight top-five and nine top-10 finishes. Stewart, who has led in seven races for 736 laps, led a combined total of 388 laps in the two races he won.

    8. Kyle Busch (Points Behind: -386): Last July, Busch started seventh and finished fourth in his first NEXTEL Cup race at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway. He went on to finish 27th in the fall.

    9. Kevin Harvick (Points Behind: -398): Harvick captured his fifth 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 six races at Loudon for a total of 68 laps.

    10. Jeff Gordon (Points Behind: -432): Gordon is the leader among active drivers in top-fives (nine), races led (14) 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 at NHIS came from the pole on August 30, 1998. Last 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. In 2004, Gordon finished second and seventh, respectively, and led 21 laps from the pole in the second event at NHIS.

    11. Greg Biffle (Points Behind: -479): Biffle has three top-10 finishes and four finishes of 27th or worse, including two DNFs, in seven starts at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway. Last season, he notched his best NHIS finishes of fifth and fourth, respectively. In his last race, Biffle led his first lap at Loudon.

    13. Kurt Busch (Points Behind: -564): In 2004 Busch swept both races at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway after leading a combined 265 laps. He started fifth, led six laps, and finished second in this event last year. The finish was his fifth top 10 at NHIS. This weekend will mark Busch's first start at New Hampshire with Penske Racing.

    14. Carl Edwards (Points Behind: -625): Edwards has raced three times at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway and has yet to post a top 10. His best finish of 12th at the track came in this event last year. He finished second to Jimmy Spencer in his first Craftsman Truck Series race at NHIS in 2003. This weekend Edwards will be pulling triple duty at NHIS running in the Cup, Busch and Whelen Modified races.

    17. Jamie McMurray (Points Behind: -730): Last year in this event, McMurray posted his second DNF at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway after crashing out of the race early. The incident, which was brought on by Matt Kenseth, relegated McMurray to a 40th-place finish. He then went on to post a 12th-place finish in September. In 2004, McMurray finished in the top 10 in both races at NHIS for the first time in four career starts. His best finish came in the September 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. Sunday will mark McMurray's first race at NHIS with Roush Racing.

    18. Ryan Newman (Points Behind: -736): New Hampshire Int'l Speedway is the site of Newman's first career NEXTEL Cup victory. The win, his second victory in seven NHIS starts, came after he won his first of three poles at the "Magic Mile." His second victory came in the last race after leading 66 laps from the 13th starting position. Newman has led in every NHIS race for a total of 499 laps, which is fourth among active drivers. In September 2004, 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.

    19. Elliott Sadler (Points Behind: -781): In September 2004, Sadler equaled his best finish (eighth) at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway. In that race he led for the second of three times 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 this event last year, 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.

    20. Brian Vickers (Points Behind: -794): After winning the pole at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway last July, Vickers went on to lead 10 laps (first time at NHIS) en route to an 11th-place finish, his best effort in four starts at NHIS. He finished 34th and 22nd, respectively, in his first two starts in 2004 along with a 13th last September.

    24. Dale Jarrett (Points Behind: -904): 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. Last year he finished 16th and 18th, respectively.

    25. Bobby Labonte (Points Behind: -970): Labonte has started in every race at New Hampshire Int'l Speedway posting nine top 10s, his last (third) coming in this event last year. 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. This weekend will mark his first New Hampshire race with Petty Enterprises.

    28. Robby Gordon (Points Behind: -1048): Gordon is the third and last 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.

    29. Joe Nemechek (Points Behind: -1077): 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. His fifth and last top 10 at NHIS came in September 2004 when he finished sixth.

    32. Jeremy Mayfield (Points Behind: -1172): Mayfield's best finish in 20 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 2004 July event.
    
            
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