Driver Handicaps: New Hampshire

This weekend the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series heads to New Hampshire International Speedway for the Sylvania 300 - the 12th Car of Tomorrow event of the 2007 season. 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
Denny Hamlin won the event at New Hampshire in July and has led 629 laps with the Car of Tomorrow.
Jeff Gordon is the leader in top fives (11) and laps led (1,141).
Jeff Burton leads all drivers with four victories.
Kevin Harvick has one win and a 4.7 average finish in the last three races.
Two-time winner Ryan Newman has the most poles (4) among all drivers.
Jimmie Johnson has finished inside the top 15 in 10 of his 11 starts.
Tony Stewart has one win and two runner-up finishes in his last five starts.


Keep an Eye On at New Hampshire
Carl Edwards has led the most laps (244) among the Ford drivers with the COT.
Kyle Busch, who has one New Hampshire win, tested the COT at Milwaukee earlier this month.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Martin Truex Jr. led a combined 110 laps en route to top five finishes at New Hampshire in July.
Matt Kenseth has finished in the top 10 in nine of his last 10 starts at New Hampshire.
Haas CNC Racing has had some good runs on the 1-mile flat ovals with the COT.
Kurt Busch is currently riding a streak of four consecutive top 10s on the season.


COT Performers
Jeff Gordon leads all drivers in starting average (8.4) and finishing average (5.5) among the drivers that have competed in all 11 Car of Tomorrow races. Gordon's teammate Jimmie Johnson leads all drivers with three wins. Denny Hamlin has dominated the competition by winning one race (New Hampshire), leading an impressive 629 laps and posting an average finish of 8.3. Among drivers with three or more starts - Carl Edwards (Ford), Ryan Newman (Dodge) and Brian Vickers (Toyota) hold the best average finish among their manufacturers at 12.9, 14.9 and 28.4, respectively. David Gilliland has the worst average finish among all the drivers that have made every COT start at 32.3. COT Driver Averages | COT Lap Leaders


New Hampshire Rookie Report
Juan Pablo Montoya leads David Ragan by 14 points in the Raybestos Rookie standings heading into this weekend's Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway. Ragan scored one of his 11 top rookie honors this season at NHIS in July after finishing 15th. Montoya finished right behind in 15th. Both David Reutimann and Paul Menard finished 38th and 39th, respectively in Lenox Industrial Tools 300. AJ Allmendinger failed to qualify for the race. Rookie Standings


Qualifying Tidbits
Dave Blaney is the latest pole winner at New Hampshire International Speedway. His pole speed of 129.437 mph was the first with a Car of Tomorrow at NHIS and first for Toyota overall. Last year in this event, Kevin Harvick became the third person to win from the pole at New Hampshire. Ryan Newman has won four of the last eight poles when qualifying has been contested at NHIS with his last coming in the 2006 July race. Newman's 2003 lap of 133.357 mph still stands as the track record. Jeff Gordon, who leads the 2007 Bud Pole standings, saw his last of three pole at NHIS come in 2001. Qualifying has been cancelled three times over the last 12 races due to weather. In the 25 races at NHIS, 13 have been won from within a top-10 starting position. Jeff Burton won from the furthest stating position in the July event in 1999 when he started 38th. Past Pole Winners | Starting Positions of New Hampshire Winners


New Hampshire Loop Data Leaders (2005-2007)
*Fastest Early in a Run
*Fastest Late in a Run
Avg. Running Position
1. Tony Stewart
1. Brian Vickers
1. Jeff Gordon - 7.4
2. Jeff Gordon
2. Denny Hamlin
2. Denny Hamlin - 8.8
3. Brian Vickers
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
3. Kevin Harvick - 10.2
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
4. Jeff Burton
4. Brian Vickers - 10.3
5. Ryan Newman
5. Mark Martin
5. Jeff Burton - 10.7
Laps in Top 15
*Quality Passes
*Driver Rating
1. Jeff Gordon - 1321
1. Tony Stewart - 160
1. Tony Stewart - 116.9
2. Jeff Burton - 1208
2. Jeff Gordon - 151
2. Denny Hamlin - 109.5
3. Tony Stewart - 1200
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 149
3. Jeff Gordon - 106.4
4. Ryan Newman - 1151
4. Jimmie Johnson - 148
4. Kevin Harvick - 104.4
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 1142
5. Ryan Newman - 136
5. Ryan Newman - 101.9
*Fastest Early In a Run: Ranks each driver during the first 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
*Fastest Late In a Run: Ranks each driver during last 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
*Quality Passes: Passing a car running in the Top 15 while under a green flag.
*Driver Rating Formula combining the following categories: Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average, Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led, Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish. Maximum: 150 points per race.


Dale Jr. Reality Cup Tiebreakers
Last Five # of Lead Changes
Last Five # of Caution Laps
2007 - 20
2007 - 31
2006 - 21
2006 - 49
2006 - 17
2006 - 47
2005 - 14
2005 - 49
2005 - 18
2005 - 60
Average: 18.0
Average: 47.2


Staff Picks
Jeff Wackerlin: Johnny Sauter
Pete Pistone: Bobby Labonte
Rachael West: Jeff Gordon
Note:
Drivers can be selected only one time per season. Race points will be added up each week. This is the 24th race of the season for this section of the handicaps. Standings


Top 20 Driver Notes - Based on Current Standings
1. Jimmie Johnson (Points: 5060): Last September at New Hampshire International Speedway, Johnson experienced engine problems early and then got caught in a chain reaction accident on lap 80 and ended up in the wall. The team made repairs to the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet, but Johnson was credited with a 39th-place in the end, marking his first finish outside the top 15 in 11 starts. Although Johnson has yet to win a pole at NHIS, his starting average of 11.1 ranks No. 2 among all active drivers with two or more starts. Johnson, who swept both NHIS races in 2003, will pilot a new car (chassis No. 461) in Sunday's Sylvania 300.
2. Jeff Gordon (Points Behind: - 20): This weekend at New Hampshire International Speedway, Gordon will be making his 500th career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series start. He is the leader among active drivers in top fives (11) and laps led (1,141) at NHIS. Gordon's last of three victories at NHIS came from the pole on August 30, 1998. His worst finish in the last 10 Loudon races came in the 2005 July race when he 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. Gordon, who has the best average finish among all drivers in the 11 Car of Tomorrow races, led 37 en route to a second-place finish in July.
3. Tony Stewart (Points Behind: - 30): In 17 starts at New Hampshire International Speedway, Stewart has two wins (most recently in the 2005 July event), nine top five and 10 top-10 finishes. Stewart, who has led in eight races for 764 laps, led a combined total of 388 laps in the two races he won. His worst finish in the last five races came in the 2006 July event when he finished 37th after a tangle with pole-sitter Ryan Newman early in the race. Stewart, who ranks third in Car of Tomorrow laps led with 454, will be driving the same chassis (No. 161) that finished seventh at Martinsville in April.
4. Carl Edwards (Points Behind: - 40): Edwards scored his only top-10 finish at New Hampshire International Speedway in the July event last year, finishing second. He could be looking at his second top 10 based on his Car of Tomorrow statistics. In the 11 COT races so far, Edwards has the best average finish among the Ford drivers, at 12.9, and has led 244 laps. He will also be racing the same car (chassis No. RK-453) that finished 13th after a pit road mishap. Edwards also won the Busch in the 2006 July race after leading 58 laps. Along with two runner-up finishes in the Busch Series, Edwards also finished second to Jimmy Spencer in his first Craftsman Truck Series race at NHIS in 2003.
5. Kurt Busch (Points Behind: - 40): In 2004 Busch swept both races at New Hampshire International Speedway after leading a combined 265 laps. The following year he finished second in the July race for his fifth top 10 in 13 starts at the track. Since then, Busch has posted an average finish of 28.3, including respective finishes of 38th, 19th and 21st in his first three track starts with Penske Racing. Busch will debut chassis PSC-524 in Sunday's Sylvania 300.
6. Denny Hamlin (Points Behind: - 50): Hamlin leads all drivers with a 3.7 average finish at New Hampshire International Speedway. Hamlin won his first Car of Tomorrow race of 2007 at NHIS in July after leading 46 laps. His laps led in the event contributed to his series leading total of 629 with the COT. This weekend Hamlin will return in his New Hampshire winning car (chassis No. 162) in the Sylvania 300. This will be the third start for the car and it also had a successful outing at Martinsville where it led 125 laps en route to a third-place finish.
7. Martin Truex Jr. (Points Behind: - 50): Truex Jr's best finish in three starts at New Hampshire International Speedway came this past July. He led 46 laps before finishing third to mark his first top 10 at the track.
8. Matt Kenseth (Points Behind: - 50): Kenseth holds the best average finish (10.9) among all drivers that have made more than three starts at New Hampshire International Speedway. His finishing average is bolstered by 10 consecutive finishes of 14th or better. Kenseth, who has led 88 laps at NHIS, will return in the same car (chassis No. RK-451) that finished ninth at Loudon in July.
9. Kyle Busch (Points Behind: - 50): Busch won the 2006 July race at New Hampshire International Speedway after leading 107 laps from the fourth starting position. It marked his second top-10 finish in five starts at the track. Busch's finishing average is hindered by two finishes of 27th and 38th in the fall race after coming together with two separate drivers in each incident. In 2005, Busch tangled with Kasey Kahne on the race track and then in 2006 he made contact with Jeff Green on the opening lap, cutting a tire that damaged his Kellogg's Chevrolet. This weekend Busch will be driving a new chassis (No. 464) that was tested at Milwaukee earlier this month.
10. Jeff Burton (Points Behind: - 50): On no other track has Jeff Burton scored more victories than New Hampshire International 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, and 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, 12 top 10s and has led a total of 694 laps in 10 races. This weekend he will shoot for his fifth consecutive top 10 at NHIS driving a brand new car (chassis No. 204).
11. Kevin Harvick (Points Behind: - 50): This weekend Harvick will be seeking his fifth consecutive top-10 finish at New Hampshire International Speedway. Last September, he captured his seventh of eight top 10s with his first win in 12 starts at the track. He led 196 of his track total 264 laps in that event. On Sunday Harvick will be driving the same car (chassis No. 190) that finished seventh last weekend at Richmond.
12. Clint Bowyer (Points Behind: - 60): New Hampshire International Speedway is Bowyer's worst non-restrictor plate track on the schedule based on his finishing average of 29.3. He will look to change that stat by driving the same car (chassis No. 212) that finished 12th last weekend at Richmond.
13. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Points Behind: - 895): Earnhardt Jr. picked up his best finish since 2004 at New Hampshire International Speedway with a fourth-place finish in July. The finished marked his seventh top 10 in 16 starts and it came after leading a race-high 64 laps. In the 2006 July event, Earnhardt Jr. posted his third DNF (finished 43rd) at NHIS after losing an engine. He started 25th in that race and spent 80 laps in the top 15 before the problem struck, and the result ended a streak of three consecutive top 10s.
14. Ryan Newman (Points Behind: - 959): New Hampshire International Speedway is the site of Newman's first career NEXTEL Cup victory. The win came after he won his first of his series leading four poles at the "Magic Mile" in the 2002 fall event. His second victory came again in the fall race, in 2005, after leading 66 laps from the 13th starting position. Newman has led in all but one of his 11 Loudon starts for a total of 518 laps. In September 2004, Newman lost the engine in the Alltel Dodge while leading, relegating him to a 33rd-place finish, his only DNF at NHIS. This weekend, Newman will debut a new car (chassis No. PRS-509) that was tested at Lowe's Motor Speedway in May.
15. Greg Biffle (Points Behind: - 1129): Biffle has four top-10 finishes and five finishes of 27th or worse, including two DNFs, in 10 starts at New Hampshire International Speedway. Biffle turned his New Hampshire record around with three consecutive top fives up until the last two races when he finished 14th and 31st, respectively. This weekend Biffle will be driving a new car (chassis No. RK-476) that was tested at Milwaukee.
16. Casey Mears (Points Behind: - 1151): Mears finished 23rd in his first start with Hendrick Motorsports in July at New Hampshire International Speedway. He will be racing the same car (chassis No. 440) in Sunday's race that competed on the road courses this season. Mears has yet to crack the top 10 in nine career starts at NHIS, with the first eight coming with Chip Ganassi Racing.
17. Bobby Labonte (Points Behind: - 1193): Labonte has started in every race at New Hampshire International Speedway posting nine top 10s - his last (third) coming in the July event in 2005. His best finish at NHIS was a second-place result 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. In three starts at the track with Petty Enterprises. Labonte has posted an average finish of 27.0.
18. Jamie McMurray (Points Behind: - 1314): The Car of Tomorrow helped McMurray lower his finishing average from 31.0 to 26.0 in his three races at New Hampshire International Speedway with Roush Fenway Racing. His previous six starts came with Chip Ganassi Racing, where he posted three top-10 finishes. In the 2005 July event, McMurray posted his second DNF after crashing out of the race early. The incident, which was brought on by Matt Kenseth, relegated McMurray to a 40th-place finish. This weekend McMurray will race a new car (chassis No. RK-462) that was tested at Richmond in April.
19. J.J. Yeley (Points Behind: - 1343): Yeley had a successful rookie season at New Hampshire International Speedway in 2006 posting respective finishes of 12th and eighth. He finished 22nd in July at NHIS, which is near his 11-race COT finishing average of 21.2. Yeley, who will also race in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and USAC Silver Crown races this weekend, will be driving a new car (No. 186) in the Sylvania 300.
20. Juan Pablo Montoya (Points Behind: - 1370): Montoya will make his second start at New Hampshire International Speedway driving the same car (chassis No. 735) that posted a combined average finish of 24.5 in its starts at Martinsville and Phoenix this year.

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