New Hampshire Motor Speedway has been described as "Martinsville on Steroids." Both tracks share a paperclip shape and shallow banking. With the limited banking, teams will often play with the springs to get the car to handle properly. Like Martinsville, passing is difficult; the way to pass is to get inside someone on the straightaway and out-brake them at the turn. Lapped cars become a factor late in the race, as well, so track position is extremely important. Using tire strategy to gain track position is an option, as New Hampshire was recently resurfaced, and the track isn't too rough on tires.
Teams that can make their car handle well off of Turns 2 and 4 will have an advantage throughout the race. The engine power will help drive cars down the straightaways, but handling off the turn will allow that power to be put on the ground. Having the ability to make passes into turns one and three could make the difference in the LENOX Industrial Tools 301.
Location: Loudon, N.H.
Length: 1.058 miles
Banking: 12-degree straightaway; 1-degree banking
Table: Do not bench
Leading the pack
Ryan Newman | No. 12 Alltel Dodge | Penske South Racing
Newman's second engine failure of the year came in the LifeLock 400, giving him his second DNF of the season. He turned that disappointment around the following week at Infineon Raceway with a top-10 finish. At New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Newman has been fast. He has qualified on pole in four of his 12 career starts at the track. He also has two wins, five top-fives and nine top-10s. There is no doubt that Newman qualifies well at New Hampshire with an average start of 6.3. His average finish of 11.1 is good, as well. Newman is a solid option for any fantasy roster in the LENOX Industrial Tools 301.
Martin Truex Jr. | No. 01 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Chevrolet | Dale Earnhardt Inc.
Truex has earned two top-five finishes in his last two starts at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. His average finish in four starts at the track is 12th. So far this season Truex has just one top-five and four top-10s. He is 17th in points after 16 starts but also has two DNFs. Truex finished 21st at the other paperclip track, Martinsville Speedway, and that might be indicative of how the LENOX Industrial Tools 301 will go for him. He hasn't finished in the top 10 for the last three races but should still be given some consideration for your fantasy roster after finishing third and fifth, respectively, in his two runs at the track last season.
Greg Biffle | No. 16 3M Ford | Roush Fenway Racing
In 11 career starts at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Biffle has three top-fives, four top-10s and two DNFs. All three of Biffle's top-fives at New Hampshire have come in his last six starts, but in his last three starts he hasn't finished better than 13th. Biffle had been on a hot streak prior to the Pocono 500. Prior to that race he recorded three straight top-fives. His best finish since Pocono was 11th (in the Toyota/Save Mart 350) after briefly leading. Biffle has run very fast at a number of tracks this season but finished in 20th, a lap down, at Martinsville in the Goody's Cool Orange 500. Biffle might be a slight gamble at New Hampshire.
Clint Bowyer | No. 07 Jack Daniel's Chevrolet | Richard Childress Racing
Bowyer snapped his streak of bad results at the Toyota/Save Mart 350 when he finished fourth. Since his victory at the Crown Royal Presents the Dan Lowry 400, Bowyer had not finished in the top 10, a period of five races. Bowyer won his last start at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the 2007 Sylvania 300, leading 222 laps along the way. One could argue that Bowyer's win last season was unexpected given his previous New Hampshire results. Returning to a track where the team has had success, along with momentum from a top-five at the road course last week, might give Bowyer an extra edge in the LENOX Industrial Tools 301.
Kurt Busch | No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge | Penske South Racing
Busch has won twice at New Hampshire, the 2004 Siemens 300 and the '04 Sylvania 300. In total, he has four top-fives and five top-10s in 14 career starts at the track. So far this season Busch only has one top-five and two top-10s. His strong qualifying in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 only resulted in a 32nd-place finish. Busch is currently 22nd in Cup points and he needs to string together a few top-10 finishes in order to be in a position to make the Chase. Unfortunately, Busch hasn't finished better than 19th in his last five starts at New Hampshire. Busch will need to work closely with teammate Ryan Newman to find a fast setup in order to help him finish in the top 10.
Drivers to keep an eye on
Aric Almirola | No. 8 U.S. Army Chevrolet | Dale Earnhardt Inc.
Almirola has started just four races this season, and his last three starts were not good. His best finish of those was eighth in the Food City 500. Almirola's only starts at New Hampshire Motor Speedway came in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. In that series, he has three starts with a best finish of eighth in the 2005 Sylvania 200. His average finish at the track is only 23rd after two other poor results. The 2008 season is meant to be a learning year for Almirola with teammate Mark Martin providing feedback and keeping the car in the top 35 in points. This week may be a struggle for Almirola as he continues to learn the Cup series.
Brian Vickers | No. 83 Red Bull Toyota | Red Bull Racing
Vickers has not had the strongest career at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. In his seven career starts he has one pole and just one top-five finish. His average finish in those seven starts is 20.7. Given Vickers' lackluster performances at New Hampshire he may struggle for a top finish. His pace and results this season, though, have been very good. He has two top-fives in the last five races and has run near the front at most tracks this season. Pay attention to Vickers in the LENOX Industrial Tools 301; he may continue his strong performances and score another top-10.
Reed Sorenson | No. 41 Target Dodge | Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates
Sorenson has not garnered a top-10 finish since the Daytona 500, and his average finish in four career starts at New Hampshire is a dismal 20.3. His best finish at New Hampshire was in the 2007 Sylvania 300, finishing 14th. Sorenson has struggled this season and is desperate to turn his season around as quickly as possible. A chance to make the Chase is virtually gone, and now Sorenson needs a decent result to remain in the top 35 in owner points to be guaranteed a starting position in the next race. There is plenty of pressure to finish well on Sorenson and the team in the LENOX Industrial Tools 301.
Kasey Kahne | No. 9 Budweiser Dodge | Gillett Evernham Motorsports
The NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race was a turning point for Kahne's season. In the four races since, he has two wins and one other top-five finish. In his first five starts at New Hampshire, Kahne had one top-five and three other top-10 finishes. His average finish in his eight starts at the track is 15.6. His recent performances at the track haven't been great, though. He has only managed a best finish of 16th in his last three starts there. Infineon was also a disappointment for Kahne after starting from pole. He finished the race a disappointing 33rd. Kahne will be keen to have a strong finish at New Hampshire to stay within the top 12 in Cup points.
Bobby Labonte | No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge | Petty Enterprises
After five top-20 finishes in six races, Labonte has managed finishes lower than 30th in the last two races. Petty Enterprises' new team ownership will take time to make their mark and the 2008 season may be too soon for results. Labonte has just one top-20 finish in his last five New Hampshire starts but finished third in the 2005 New England 300. Labonte's average finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway is 15.5 in 26 career starts. He is 23rd in Cup points and realistically may not be looking to make the Chase at this point in the season, but he and the team need to continue turning in top-20 finishes to remain in the top 35 in owner points.