Anthony Ballantoni

Mid-Pack Attack

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Lenox Industrial Tools 301

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Track history: New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the first superspeedway started in the U.S. since 1969, broke ground on August 13, 1989 and was ready for racing the next year. It is a 1.058-mile asphalt oval with 12-degree banking in the turns. The 1,500-foot frontstretch and backstretch are banked two degrees. The seating for 55,000 fans in the grandstands on opening day has been increased to its current 95,000 capacity.

The NASCAR Nationwide Series held its first race, the Budweiser 300, on July 15, 1990. Tommy Ellis drove the No. 99 Goo Goo Clusters Buick to the victory in that event. For the next three years, the Nationwide Series was joined by CART and IRL at the Loudon track. The speedway hosted its first NASCAR Cup race in July 1993.

In the mid-to-late 1990's, several improvements were made at the facility. A 1.6 mile road course was added for motorcycles and sports cars. Four helipads, an expanded Corporate Hospitality area, VIP suites, an additional 52 bay garage and more grandstands were built. More parking and a five-lane access road were constructed.

July 11, 1993: After driving the No. 6 Valvoline Ford to a 126.871 mph qualifying lap, Mark Martin started on the pole for the first Loudon NASCAR Cup race, the Slick 50 300. He led 29 of the 300 laps and finished 2nd. Rusty Wallace started the No. 2 Miller Genuine Draft Pontiac 33rd in the lineup, got to the front to lead 106 laps and earned the victory. This race marked the Cup Series debuts for Jeff Burton and Joe Nemechek.

June 27, 2010: Juan Pablo Montoya scored his second consecutive Loudon pole to lead the field for the 2010 Lenox Industrial Tools 301. He led 66 laps before Jeff Gordon (No. 24) and Montoya started rubbing on each other for 4th place (lap 248). His No. 42 suffered some damage and on lap 282, he and Reed Sorenson got together sending Montoya hard into the wall (placed 34th). Kasey Kahne led the most laps (110 of 301) before the No. 9's engine expired (he placed 36th). Jimmie Johnson (No. 48) made a last lap pass on Tony Stewart's No. 14 to pick up his 2nd consecutive win (he won at Sonoma the week before) and 5th 2010 Cup victory.

September 19, 2010: Clint Bowyer won the Sylvania 300 from a 2nd place start. It was the No. 33 Chevrolet driver's 1st victory in 2010 and his 2nd at Loudon. Drivers leading 2 or more laps: No. 7-Robby Gordon (2 laps, finished 26th), Pole-sitter No. 12-Brad Keselowski (2, finished 18th), 24-Jeff Gordon (2, 6th), 99-Carl Edwards (4, 11th), 1-Jamie McMurray (12, 3rd), 14-Tony Stewart (100, 24th) and winner Bowyer let the most (177 of 300).

Fantasy games won't allow you to pick all track favorites so Mid-Pack Attack is here to help. A mid-packer may not win the race but has as good a shot at a top 15 finish as track favorites Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson. There were 46 cars on the preliminary entry list for this weekend's Cup race. Here are our picks for Sunday's Lenox Industrial Tools 301 in Loudon, New Hampshire.

Mid-Pack picks

The flat 1-miler in Loudon, NH is where it all began for Jeff Burton. He made his first career Cup start here in the inaugural 1993 race and is one of four drivers who have been in all 32 races at NHMS. Since then he racked up the most track records – most wins (4), most laps led by a race winner (All 300 – Sept. 2000), least laps led by a race winner (2 –July 1999) and the track race record (Time 2:42:35, Speed 117.134 mph - July 1997). Burton, consistent with his "closing" style, has an average start of 19.9 coupled with a 13.5 finishing average at Loudon. His last three finishes here were 16th, 12th and 15th. You could say Burton is a good choice for a top 15 at New Hampshire.

Martin Truex Jr. has won races at Loudon in every division except Sprint Cup.
Truex said: "My plan is to cross that off this weekend especially since I've had a legitimate shot at winning the Cup race several times." He picked up a win here in the 2005 Nationwide Series race. He also scored 2 wins, 3 poles and 6 top tens in 10 starts at NHMS in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East earlier in his career. In Cup competition at NHMS, he has 3 top-five and 4 top-10 finishes. His average start is 13th and average finish is 16th. We don't think he's going to check off a Cup win at NHMS but he might be looking at a top 15 on Sunday.

At age 19, Joey Logano became the youngest race winner in NASCAR history right here at Loudon in June 2009. Yeah, we know, he was in the right place at the right time when the rains came ending the race 27 laps short but the day before he started the Nationwide Series race on the pole and finished 2nd. He also finished 4th in his second NNS start here in 2010. At the venue the New Englander (Middletown, CT) considers his home track, he entered two K&N Pro Series East races, started on the pole in one, 6th in the other and won both races.
Look for the No. 20 Toyota near the front on Sunday.

Mark Martin is ranked 2nd on NASCAR Statistics "Closers" list for improving an average of 3.1 positions in the last 10 percent of the most recent 12 New Hampshire races. Martin's finishes in 2010 at the New England track were nothing to brag about (21st and 29th) but prior to last season he scored 8 straight top 15's including the September 2009 victory. We're counting on his return to finishes in the top 15 range this weekend. If you still have a slot open, round out your fantasy roster with the wily veteran this week.


Tony Ballantoni runs the NASCAR coverage at RotoWorld.com.
Email :Anthony Ballantoni



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