Anthony Ballantoni

Mid-Pack Attack

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Mid-Pack: Camping World RV 301

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Track history: New Hampshire International Speedway (original name), 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.

In early 2008, Speedway Motorsports, Inc. acquired the track and officially changed the name to New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Track Quick Facts (courtesy NASCAR Media):
Last five winners:
Denny Hamlin 9/23/12, Kasey Kahne 7/15/12, Tony Stewart 9/25/11, Ryan Newman 7/17/11 and Clint Bowyer 9/19/10.
First Cup start here (Active drivers): Jeff Burton 7/11/93, Joe Nemechek 7/11/93, Joey Logano 9/14/08, Kelly Bires 7/15/12 and Mike Olsen 9/23/12.
First Cup pole: Patrick Carpentier 6/29/08 and Brad Keselowski 9/19/10.
First Cup win: Joe Nemechek 9/19/99, Robby Gordon 11/23/01, Ryan Newman 9/15/02, Clint Bowyer 9/16/07 and Joey Logano 6/27/09.

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 second. 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.

July 15, 2012: Kasey Kahne won the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 from second in the lineup. It was the No. 5 Chevrolet driver’s second victory in 2012 and his first in 17 starts at Loudon. Drivers leading five or more laps: No. 24 Jeff Gordon 5 laps, finished sixth; Winner Kahne led 66 laps; Pole-sitter No. 18 Kyle Busch led 72 laps, finished 16th and No. 11 Denny Hamlin led the most laps (150 of 301) and finished second.

September 23, 2012: Denny Hamlin won the Sylvania 300, his 22nd victory in 251 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. This is the No. 11 Toyota driver's fifth victory and 14th top-10 finish in 2012. It is his second victory and 10th top-10 finish in 14 races at Loudon. Drivers leading five or more laps: No. 55 Brian Vickers five laps, finished ninth; Pole-sitter No. 24 Jeff Gordon seven laps, finished third; No. 14 Tony Stewart 38 laps, finished seventh; No. 18 Kyle Busch 48 laps, finished 28th and Race-winner Hamlin led the most laps (193 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 20 finish as track favorites Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski and Tony Stewart. There were 43 cars on the preliminary entry list for this weekend’s Cup race. Here are our picks for Sunday’s Camping World RV Sales 301 in Loudon, New Hampshire.

Mid-Pack picks

Brian Vickers' career statistics at Loudon are not impressive. In 15 Sprint Cup starts at the track he has a 20.3 average finish. But, since he started his part-time ride with Michael Waltrip Racing in 2012, he finished 15th and ninth at NHMS. He spent about 2/3 of the time running in the top 15 in those races. In 2013, aside from his wreck at Kentucky (credited with a 31st place), Vickers has been holding up his share in the No. 55 Toyota with good runs. He scored an eighth at Bristol, an 11th at Martinsville and a 13th at Sonoma. We think Vickers is a good choice for another 15th or better on Sunday.

As noted above in Track Facts, Jeff Burton made his Sprint Cup Series debut at Loudon on July 11, 1993. One of only four drivers entered this week who have started all 36 NSCS races at the track, he leads the series with four NHMS wins. During his most recent win (September 2000), Burton led all 300 laps. No driver has led 100% of the laps in a Cup race at any track since. That was over a dozen years ago, but the No. 31 Chevrolet SS driver's worst finish in the last seven races here was a 21st place last July. The other six resulted in a 16th place or better. You could say Burton has a decent shot at a top-20 on Sunday.

Our border-line "cheesy pick" of the week (he's 16th in the points) goes to Ryan Newman. In the last 10 races at the "Magic Mile", he had a few finishes south of 25th place but he also scored one win, two poles and six top-10 finishes. After the Dover race (five races ago) Newman was 20th in the points. He finished fifth at Pocono, 18th at Michigan, 15th at Sonoma, 14th at Kentucky and a 10th place last week in the Daytona night race. He's on a mission to claim a spot in the 12-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup. A repeat of his two 10th place finishes scored here in 2012 will bring the No. 39 Chevrolet SS driver a lot closer to that goal.

In his first five starts at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, AJ Allmendinger couldn't buy a good finish. His best was a 25th. The last four finishes were just the opposite; 10th, 10th, 12th and 21st. It looks like he figured out the flat track. AJ made only eight starts so far this season. Aside from getting caught up a Big One last week at Daytona and a mechanical problem at Pocono, he finished in the top-20 in five of the other six races. We're expecting him to bring the No. 51 Chevrolet SS home somewhere in that range this week as well.   

Tony Ballantoni runs the NASCAR coverage at
Email :Anthony Ballantoni

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