Driver Handicaps: New Hampshire

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This weekend the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway for Sunday's Sylvania 300. To help you make your fantasy racing 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 leads all drivers with a 6.8 average finish.
• Tony Stewart has one win and three finishes of third or better in his last seven starts.
• Jeff Burton leads all drivers with four wins.
• Two-time winner Jimmie Johnson has finished in the top 10 in five of his last six starts.
• Martin Truex Jr. has finished in the top five in his last three starts.
• 2006 September winner Kevin Harvick has 10.0 average finish in his last four starts.

Keep an Eye on at New Hampshire
• Clint Bowyer will be driving the same car that won this event at NHMS last season.
• Series points leader Kyle Busch has one win and three top fives at NHMS.
• Matt Kenseth holds the fourth best average finish (10.5) at NHMS.
• Kurt Busch is coming off his third career win at NHMS after leading 10 laps up until rain called the race.
• Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be back in the same car that led 29 laps at NHMS in June before getting caught up in an accident entering pit road.

New Hampshire Rookie Report
Patrick Carpentier won the pole for his first start at NHMS in June but only led four laps and finished two laps off the pace in 31st when the race was called for rain. Regan Smith has made three Cup starts at NHMS, with a best coming this June when he finished 27th. Sam Hornish Jr. and Michael McDowell finished 39th and 42nd in their first starts at the track this June. Joey Logano will attempt to make his first Cup start at NHMS in the No. 96. Rookie Standings


Qualifying Tidbits
Patrick Carpentier stunned the Cup world when he took the pole for the June race in his first start there and 17th career Cup start. Ryan Newman leads all drivers in poles at the track with four and he and Jeff Gordon are the only repeat pole winners who are still active full-time drivers. Four New Hampshire races have been won from the pole, the most of any other spot at the track. Clint Bowyer most recently won from the pole at NHMS when he took his first career Cup victory last year in this event. Newman holds the qualifying record at the track of 133.357 mph set in qualifying for this event in 2003. Qualifying has been rained out twice in qualifying for the fall race, most recently in 2004. Past Pole Winners | Starting Positions of New Hampshire Winners

New Hampshire Loop Data Stat Leaders (2005-2008)
*Fastest Early in a Run
*Fastest Late in a Run
Avg. Running Position
1. Tony Stewart
1. Denny Hamlin
1. Jeff Gordon - 7.0
2. Jeff Gordon
2. Clint Bowyer
2. Tony Stewart - 9.2
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
3. Denny Hamlin - 9.7
4. Ryan Newman
4. Tony Stewart
4. Kevin Harvick - 9.8
5. Kyle Busch
5. Matt Kenseth
4. Jimmie Johnson - 11.9
Laps in Top 15
*Quality Passes
*Driver Rating
1. Jeff Gordon - 1855
1. Jeff Gordon - 219
1. Tony Stewart - 118.6
2. Tony Stewart - 1738
2. Jimmie Johnson - 217
2. Jeff Gordon - 108.7
3. Jimmie Johnson - 1681
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 215
3. Kevin Harvick - 104.3
4. Ryan Newman - 1618
4. Tony Stewart - 209
4. Denny Hamlin - 104.0
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 1599
5. Kurt Busch - 197
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 100.1

*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.


RacingOne Staff Picks
Jeff Wackerlin: Tony Stewart
Pete Pistone: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Rachael West: Tony Stewart
Kym Opalenik: Denny Hamlin

Top 20 Driver Notes - Based on Current Standings

1. Kyle Busch: Busch won the 2006 July race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway after leading 107 laps from the fourth starting position. It marked his second of three top-five finishes in seven starts at the track. Busch's finishing average (15.7) is hindered by two finishes of 27th and 38th in the 2005 and 2006 fall races after coming together with two separate drivers in each incident. Busch, who finished 25th in his first track start with Joe Gibbs Racing in June, has led 176 laps at the 1.058-mile track.

2. Carl Edwards: Edwards has recorded an average finish of 14.1 in eight starts at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. His best finish came in the 2006 July race when he took the checkered flag in second. Edwards has completed all but one of the laps he has attempted at the one-mile speedway. Despite that fact, his 2006 finish is his only top 10. This weekend Edwards will return in the same car that finished 17th in June at NHMS.

3. Jimmie Johnson: Johnson, who swept both races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2003, has finished in the top 10 in his last three starts. His only finish (39th) outside the top 15 came in this event in 2006 when Johnson's No. 48 experienced engine problems early, got caught in a chain reaction accident on lap 80, and ended up in the wall. Although Johnson has yet to win a pole at NHMS, his starting average of 9.4 ranks fourth among all active drivers. This weekend Johnson will be driving the same car (chassis No. 61) that won at Martinsville and Phoenix last fall.

4. Dale Earnhardt Jr: Earnhardt Jr. picked up his best finish since 2004 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the June event last year after he came home fourth. The finish marked his seventh top 10 in 18 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 NHMS 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. In June, Earnhardt made his New Hampshire debut with Hendrick Motorsports and led 29 laps before getting caught up in an accident entering pit road. He will return in that same car (chassis No. 490) that finished 24th in that event.

5. Clint Bowyer: Prior to this event last year, New Hampshire Motor Speedway was Bowyer's worst non-restrictor plate track on the schedule based on his finishing average of 29.3. He turned around his performance at the 1.058-mile speedway by dominating this race, leading 22 laps en route to his first career win. After finishing 22nd in June, Bowyer's New Hampshire average sits at 22.2. This weekend he will look for another victory when he climbs behind the wheel of chassis No. 212. This is the same car that won at NHMS and at Richmond this season.

6. Denny Hamlin: Defending race winner Hamlin leads all drivers with a 6.8 average finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. His win in the June race last season was one of four finishes of eighth or better. This weekend Hamlin will look to continue his success on the flat tracks by driving the same car (chassis No. 214) that raced at NHMS this season.

7. Jeff Burton: On no other track has Jeff Burton scored more victories than New Hampshire Motor 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 NHMS 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 Sprint Cup debut 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 Burton will be driving the same car (chassis No. 204) that raced finished 12th at NHMS in June. Burton has posted an average finish of 11.1 in his eight races at NHMS with Richard Childress Racing.

8. Tony Stewart: In 19 starts at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Stewart has two wins (most recently in the 2005 July event), 10 top-five and 11 top-10 finishes. Stewart, who has led in 10 races for 132 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. This weekend Stewart will pilot the same car (chassis No. 216) that led a race-high 132 laps and appeared to be on its way to a possible victory finish at NHMS in June until rain cut short the race when other teams gambled on fuel.

9. Greg Biffle: Biffle has four top-10 finishes and six finishes of 21st or worse, including two DNFs, in 12 starts at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Biffle turned his New Hampshire record around with three consecutive top fives up until the last four races when he finished 14th, 31st, 13th and 21st, respectively. This weekend Biffle will be driving the same car (chassis No. RK-608) that finished eighth at Indianapolis.

10. Jeff Gordon: Gordon is the leader among all drivers in top fives (12), top 10s (15) and laps led (1,141) at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. His last of three victories at NHMS came from the pole on August 30, 1998. Gordon's worst finish in the last 12 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 in that event. In the last four races at NHMS, Gordon has posted an average finish of 4.5.

11. Kevin Harvick: This weekend Harvick will be seeking his ninth top-10 finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Last September, he ended a streak of three consecutive finishes of eighth or better when he crossed the finish line in 17th. Harvick's only win at New Hampshire came in the 2006 September race when he led 196 laps from the pole. This weekend Harvick will return in the same car (chassis No. 251) that finished 14th at NHMS in June.

12. Matt Kenseth: Kenseth holds the fourth best average finish (10.5) at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. His finishing average is bolstered by finishes of 14th or better in 11 of the last 12 races. Kenseth, who has led 88 laps at NHMS, will return in the same car (chassis No. RK-606) that finished 18th at NHMS in June after the race was called for rain.

13. Kasey Kahne: This weekend will mark Kahne’s 10th career start at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. His worst non-DNF finishes at the track came the three Car of Tomorrow events in 25th, 20th and 30th place. Kahne's last top of four top 10s came in the June 2006 race.

14. David Ragan: Ragan has posted a 24.7 average finish in his three career starts at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He appeared to be on his way to a top-10 finish in June, but got caught up in an incident on that track that wasn’t his fault. This weekend Ragan will race the same car (chassis No. 467) that finished 11th at Martinsville.

15. Brian Vickers: Vickers finished 16th at new Hampshire Motor Speedway in June for his best finish in two starts with Team Red Bull. Prior to 2007, Vickers competed in six races with Hendrick Motorsports, capturing one top 10, a fifth-place finish in this event in 2006.

16. Ryan Newman: New Hampshire Motor Speedway is the site of Newman's first career Sprint 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 two of his 13 Loudon starts for a total of 520 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 NHMS. This weekend, Newman will race the same car (chassis No. PRS-525) that finished 10th at Auto Club Speedway in February.

17. Martin Truex Jr: Truex Jr. is coming off three consecutive top fives at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. His best finish in that span came in the 2007 June race when he led 46 laps en route to a third-place finish. In his most recent start, Truex finished fourth to give him an overall average of 10.4 in five starts.

18. Jamie McMurray: McMurray has competed in five races with Roush Fenway Racing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. His best finish with the team came in this event last year in 11th. In June, McMurray recorded his first DNF at NHMS with the team after a crash relegated him to a 41st-place finish. McMurray's previous six starts came with Chip Ganassi Racing, where he posted three top-10 finishes. This weekend McMurray will race the same car (chassis No. RK-572) that he raced at NHMS in June.

19. Kurt Busch: Busch is coming off his third career win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway after leading 10 laps up until rain called the race. The victory was his first top 10 in five starts with Penske Racing. In 2004, Busch swept both races at NHMS after leading a combined 265 laps. This weekend Busch will debut a new car (chassis No. 576) that is considered a “clone” of the “574 car” he won with at NHMS in June.

20. Bobby Labonte: Labonte will be making his sixth start at New Hampshire Motor Speedway with Petty Enterprises. In June, he scored his best start (second) and finish (10th) with the team. Prior to joining Petty, Labonte recorded nine top 10s with Joe Gibbs and Bill Davis Racing.

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