Anthony Ballantoni

Mid-Pack Attack

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Loudon NH: Sylvania 300

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Track history: New HampshireMotor 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.

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 laps, 18th), No. 24-Jeff Gordon (2 laps, 6th), No. 99-Carl Edwards (4 laps, 11th), No. 1-Jamie McMurray (12 laps, 3rd), No. 14-Tony Stewart (100 laps, 24th) and winner Bowyer led the most (177 of 300).

July 17, 2011: Ryan Newman won the LENOX Industrial Tools 301 from the pole. It was the No. 39 Chevrolet driver’s 1st victory in 2011 and his 3rd at Loudon. Drivers leading 5 or more laps: No. 4-Kasey Kahne (5 laps, finished 6th), No. 20-Joey Logano (5 laps, 4th), No. 1-Jamie McMurray (6 laps, 31st), No. 24-Jeff Gordon (19 laps, 11th), No. 48-Jimmie Johnson (19 laps, 5th), No. 14-Tony Stewart (48 laps, 2nd), No. 22-Kurt Busch (66 laps, 10th) and winner Newman led the most (119 of 301).

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, Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart. There were 46 cars on the preliminary entry list for this weekend’s Cup race. Here are our picks for Sunday’s Sylvania 300 in Loudon, New Hampshire.

Mid-Pack picks

Martin Truex Jr. would like to add to the 'Truex Tradition'. Five times in NASCAR's major divisions, the Truex family has scored wins at Loudon. Truex won the 2000 and 2003 K&N Pro Series East races and the 2005 Nationwide Series race. Martin Truex Sr. won the 1994 East race and Martin Jr.’s younger brother Ryan repeated that feat in 2010. Truex Jr.'s average finish in 11 Cup starts is a 15th place. He ran as high as 3rd in the July 2011 race, had a 15th place average running position and finished 8th. We don't expect a continuation of the 'tradition' at NHMS from the No. 56 driver, but you never know.

Jeff Burton made his first career Cup start here in the inaugural 1993 race and is one of four drivers who have been in all 33 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 19.5 followed up by a 13.6 finishing average at Loudon. His last three finishes here were 12th, 15th and 16th. You could say Burton is a good choice for a top 15 at New Hampshire.

Even though Joey Logano does better at Loudon in the spring (finishes of 1st, 9th and 4th) as opposed to the fall races (32nd, 21st and 35th), we're taking a chance on him on Sunday. The New Englander (Middletown, CT) considers NHMS his home track. He entered two K&N Pro Series East races here, started on the pole in one, 6th in the other and won both races. In three starts in the Nationwide Series, he has one pole and finishes of 2nd, 4th and 29th. In the last one (July 2011), he was running 4th with about 10 to go and got caught up in a multi-car wreck. Logano led a few laps here in the July 2011 Sprint Cup race, ran an average 12th place during the race and brought home a 4th place. Give the No. 20 a look for a possible top 15 this week.

In nine career Cup starts at the Miracle Mile, David Reutimann has never led a lap but he also has never failed to finish a race (no DNF's) here. He has completed all of the laps run here since 2008 as well. His average start is 15th and his average finish is 17th. He has finished 15th or better in four of his last five Loudon starts (averaging an 11.4 finish). Beginning Sunday, crew chief Rodney Childers said: "We are going to take chances. We’re either going to be heroes or zeros - it’s all about winning at this point.” They're not worried about the point standings any more this season. We're going to take a chance on that attitude this week.



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



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