NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

Next Race: 5-hour ENERGY 301

The Place: New Hampshire Motor Speedway

The Date: Sunday, July 19

The Time: 1:30 p.m. (ET)

TV: NBCSN, 1 p.m. (ET)

Radio: PRN, SiriusXM Ch. 90

Distance: 318.46 miles (301 laps)

NASCAR XFINITY Series

Next Race: Lakes Region 200

The Place: New Hampshire Motor Speedway

The Date: Saturday, July 18

The Time: 4 p.m. (ET)

TV: NBCSN, 3:30 p.m. (ET)

Radio: PRN, SiriusXM Ch. 90

Distance: 211.6 miles (200 laps)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Next Race: 1-800-CAR-CASH Mud Summer Classic

The Place: Eldora Speedway

The Date: Wednesday July 22

The Time: 9 p.m. (ET)

TV: FOX Sports 1, 7 p.m. (ET)

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM Ch. 90

Distance: 75 miles (150 laps)

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES

Note: Saturday Night Live alum and comedy movie star Adam Sandler will play a vital role this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway – Grand Marshal. In honor of his NASCAR visit, we’ve peppered a number of Sandler puns and references throughout this notes package. See if you can find them all … any more brain busters?

Big Daddy: Busch Rolls To New Hampshire As NASCAR’s Hottest Driver

After missing the first 11 races of the season, Kyle Busch is beginning to hit his stride. He has won two of the last three races and is now 87 points out of the 30th in the driver points standings – the spot he needs in order to make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. At the current rate, Busch would need to average a finish of roughly 17th in the remaining eight regular season races to earn a top-30 spot.

Busch led a race-high 163 laps at Kentucky and passed Joey Logano with 19 laps remaining to visit Victory Lane for the second time in his career at the 1.5-mile track.

This weekend, the No. 18 Toyota driver heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for Sunday’s 5-hour ENERGY 301 (1:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN). Busch claims one win, seven top fives, 10 top 10s and two Coors Light Pole Awards at “The Magic Mile.”

Although he has only competed in seven races this season, Busch ranks tied for the second-most wins in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kurt Busch, all with two victories.

11 Different Drivers Have Won Last 11 Races At New Hampshire

If New Hampshire’s Victory Lane appeared in Zagat’s, it would read something like this: “A popular hot spot; champagne on ice; try the lobster; eclectic crowd … you’ll never see the same face twice.” Oh, hear that, Hank?

A different driver has won each of the last 11 races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway – the longest active streak at any track in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The last 11 winners at the one-mile track are Mark Martin (Fall 2009), Jimmie Johnson (Summer 2010), Clint Bowyer (Fall 2010), Ryan Newman (Summer 2011), Tony Stewart (Fall 2011), Kasey Kahne (Summer 2012), Denny Hamlin (Fall 2012), Brian Vickers (Summer 2013), Matt Kenseth (Fall 2013), Brad Keselowski (Summer 2014) and Joey Logano (Fall 2014).

The all-time record for different winners at a track is 13, set by New Hampshire (2008-2014) and Texas Motor Speedway (1998-2007).

Just Joe With It: JGR Drivers Master Kentucky-Specific Rules Package

Joe Gibbs definitely found his “Happy Place” on Saturday when the four drivers on his Joe Gibbs Racing team all place in the top five – the first time a team accomplished the feat since 2008.

Competing under a new track-specific aerodynamics rule package, JGR driver Kyle Busch won Saturday’s Quaker State 400 and was followed closely by his teammates Denny Hamlin (third), Carl Edwards (fourth) and Matt Kenseth (fifth).

The last team to place four drivers in the top five in a NSCS race was Roush Fenway Racing (August 2008 at Michigan). Coincidentally, Kenseth and Edwards were members of RFR then.

JGR has won the last two races at 1.5-mile tracks. Edwards won at Charlotte in May after gambling on fuel.

Gibbs is hoping he can remain in his Happy Place and that the price isn’t wrong on Sunday.

Lobster Tale: Team Penske Tries To Build On 2014 New Hampshire Reign

Team Penske heads up north to New Hampshire Motor Speedway, a track it swept last year with its driver tandem of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano. Keselowski took the checkered flag in last year’s summer race, while Logano won the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race there in the fall.

Logano and Keselowski will attempt to follow up on their strong showings at Kentucky where they finished second and sixth, respectively.

Logano has two victories, three top fives and five top 10s in 13 starts at the track that’s closest to his hometown of Middletown, Connecticut. The No. 22 Ford driver made his series debut at New Hampshire on Sept. 14, 2008, finishing 32nd. Logano is the youngest New Hampshire winner (06/28/2009 – 19 years, 1 month, 4 days).

Keselowski owns one win, four top fives, seven top 10s and three Coors Light Pole Awards at New Hampshire. He set the track qualifying record at the one-mile track last fall (140.598 mph). He is the only active driver to capture his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Award at New Hampshire (9/19/10).

Boston Three Party: 5 Drivers Tied For Active Lead With Three New Hampshire Wins

Five drivers rank tied for the active lead with three wins at New Hampshire: Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart. The five will try to tie Jeff Burton’s all-time record four victories at the track located 80 miles north of Boston.

Gordon (107.3) and Stewart (106.9) are first and second in driver rating at New Hampshire, while Jimmie Johnson (102.1) is fourth.

Johnson (2003) and Busch (2004) are the only drivers who have swept the track.

Newman holds the New Hampshire track record with seven Coors Light Pole Awards.

Larson Loves Loudon

At New Hampshire Motor Speedway, “you don’t mess with the Kyle Larson.” The driver of the red-hooded No. 42 Target Chevrolet finished third last July and second last September in his only two starts at “The Magic Mile.” Larson has not had a top-10 finish since placing eighth at Pocono more than a month ago. He has finished outside the top 30 the last two races. Larson needs a win in order to make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. He is 88 points below the cutoff line with a mere eight races left until NASCAR’s playoffs.

8 Crazy Nights (and a few day races) Left: Time Running Out For Chase Spot

Only eight races remain before the 16-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field is set.

Here’s what we know:

Kevin Harvick has checked off two of the three Chase criteria boxes. He has the multiple wins that guarantees a spot among the top 16 winners, and at Kentucky, he locked up a top 30 spot. All he needs to do now is start each of the remaining races in the regular season.

Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. can join Harvick this weekend in New Hampshire. Both Hendrick Motorsports drivers already have the multiple wins that guarantee them a spot among the top 16 winners (even if there’s a new winner in each of the remaining eight races). They can lock up a top 30 spot at New Hampshire this weekend.

Joey Logano could also join Harvick, but only with a victory.

With help in the form of poor finishes by drivers around the 30th place bubble, a victory for Martin Truex Jr. or Brad Keselowski would give either multiple wins and a possible top 30 place clinch.

NASCAR XFINITY SERIES

Lucky No. 7: Keselowski and Busch Big Favorites At New Hampshire

When it comes to picking who might win this weekend, history might be the best indicator because Kyle Busch (four) and Brad Keselowski (two) have combined to win the last six NASCAR XFINITY Series races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. This weekend the two standout drivers will try to make it seven-in-a-row at the 1.058-mile track in Saturday’s Lake Regions 200 (1:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Brad Keselowski’s last two starts at New Hampshire have led to back-to-back victories from the Coors Light Pole (2012, 2014). In total Keselowski has made six series starts at New Hampshire posting four poles, two wins, four top 10s and an average finish of 7.5.

Keselowski returns to the owner points-leading Team Penske No. 22 Ford this weekend after a notable performance at Kentucky where he captured his first win of 2015. Keselowski has made four XFINITY Series starts this season, posting one win (Kentucky), three top fives, four top 10s and an average finish of 4.0. His four series starts have reaped a driver rating of 118.6 and an average running position of 5.4.

Kyle Busch, though sidelined for 11 races due to injury, looks as if he hasn’t missed a beat this season. In three series starts in 2015, he has one win (Michigan), two top fives and an average finish of 10.0.

Busch is King when it comes to the NASCAR XFINITY Series and New Hampshire; he leads the series in wins at the 1.058-mile track with four victories – including three consecutive wins from 2009-11. In nine starts at NHMS, Busch has posted four wins (2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013 – his 2013 victory was from the pole), six top fives, two poles and an average finish of 8.7.

Consistency Continues To Float Buescher’s Standings Lead

For the seventh consecutive event, Roush Fenway Racing’s Chris Buescher has held on to the NASCAR XFINITY Series standings lead, shedding light on the source of his success – consistency.

Buescher, 22, has nurtured his standings lead to a healthy 36 points over second-place Chase Elliott and 46 points over third-place Ty Dillon. While many factors have contributed to Buescher’s early success this season, it is his ability to produce solid finishes week-in-and-week-out that has him pulling ahead of his competitors. Through 16 races he produced an average finish of 7.6 – the best among series championship contenders.

Buescher’s 2015 season has seen two wins (Iowa, Chicago), eight top fives (most among championship contenders) and 10 top 10s.

Its probable Buescher will continue his 2015 success at New Hampshire this weekend, since last season in his series debut at the 1.058-mile track, he started ninth and finished fifth.

Sunoco Rookie Update: Suarez Ties Wallace For Rookie Standings Lead

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Daniel Suarez has turned up the heat in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings by drawing even with Roush Fenway Racing’s Darrell Wallace Jr. for the lead (188 points each) following his fourth-place finish at Kentucky this past weekend.

Suarez has found his groove; in his last 10 series starts he has posted two top fives and five top 10s.

All of 2015 has been a learning experience for Suarez who in 16 NASCAR XFINITY Series starts has posted two top fives, six top 10s and one pole. His average finish this season is 14.6.

“We keep learning a lot. Every single weekend I feel like we learn a lot of new things,” Suarez said. “I think it’s great. I really feel more confident running up front and with these guys. Not just running with them, but learning from all these guys because I really feel like we are learning from the best drivers. We have to keep it up and hopefully one race we can make it happen with a win.”

Both Suarez and Wallace will be making their series debuts at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday, July 18 (NBCSN at 1:30 p.m. ET).

Sadler Continues Series Standings Ascent; Now Up To Fourth

Since the season opening race at Daytona, Roush Fenway Racing’s veteran driver Elliott Sadler, has methodically climbed from 12th to fourth in the standings in just 15 starts. Sadler is now 19 points behind third-place Ty Dillon and 65 points back from the standings leader Chris Buescher.

“The last month these guys (No. 1 RFR team) have really come around,” Sadler said. “I’m just really proud of all the work everybody in the shop is doing for Roush Fenway.”

At 40 years old, Sadler is the eldest of the drivers in the top five in the standings, but he has been using his experience to gain an edge this season. In 16 starts Sadler has posted three top fives, eight top 10s, and an average finish of 11.1.

As the series heads to New Hampshire, expect to see Sadler near the front in his 150th consecutive series career event. In two of this last three starts at New Hampshire, he has finished in the top 10. Sadler’s pre-race Driver Rating for the Lake Regions 200 at NHMS is 95.9 (third-best among XFINITY Series championship contenders).

NASCAR XFINITY SERIES Etc.:

Ben Rhodes Returns To JR Motorsports: Rhodes will look to make his third start of the season this weekend in the JR Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet at New Hampshire. In Rhodes’ previous two starts this season, he has posted one top 10 and an average finish of 14.0. This will be Rhodes’ NASCAR national series debut at New Hampshire.

Milestones:

Ø 300th NASCAR XFINITY Series Start - Kyle Busch will attempt to post his 300th NASCAR XFINITY Series career start this weekend. Busch is 20th on the all-time XFINITY Series starts list, seven behind Jeff Burton (306) in 19th-place.

Ø 150th NASCAR XFINITY Series Start - Denny Hamlin will attempt to post his 150th NASCAR XFINITY Series career start this weekend. Hamlin is 83rd on the all-time XFINITY Series starts list, two behind Trevor Bayne in 82nd-place.

Ø 50th NASCAR XFINITY Series Start - Chase Elliott will attempt to make his 50th NASCAR XFINITY Series career start this weekend. Elliott is tied with Dickie Linville and Ed Ferree for 219th on the all-time XFINITY Series starts list.

* 108 Top-Five Finishes (Sixth all-time) – Brad Keselowski can tie Tommy Houston for sixth on the all-time NASCAR XFINITY Series top-five finishes list this weekend. Keselowski is currently seventh with 107 top fives.

2015 Series Statistical Highlights: Through 16 races this season the NASCAR XFINITY Series has seen 79.53% of the competitors running at the finish of the race – the most since 2006 through 16 races (82.70%). … There has been an average number of leaders of 6.25 and an average of 11.5 lead changes per race this season. Through 16 races there have been nine different race winners and seven different pole winners. There have been five series standings lead changes among three drivers (Ryan Reed, Ty Dillon and Chris Buescher).

Sprint Cup Stars emblazon XFINITY Series Entry List: Each week a pack of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers will compete in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. This week is no different; four NSCS drivers are entered in the Lake Regions 200 – Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Austin Dillon and Kyle Busch.   back...
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