New Hampshire Motor Speedway Magic Mile Notebook – Auto Club 400

PRESS RELEASE 

**LOCAL TIDBITS

Sprint Cup Series LogoGappens to Speak at Leadership Forum
The Rivier University President’s Circle will host a Leadership Forum onWednesday, March 26, featuring a presentation by Jerry Gappens, executive vice president and general manager of New Hampshire Motor Speedway. “Racing to Success,” a discussion of the strategic and operational planning of the speedway, will talk about the broad impact of sports marketing on the New England economy.

Trucks Return to Magic Mile
Anchored by its two traditional NASCAR Sprint Cup weekends, New Hampshire Motor Speedway will welcome the return of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in September. Absent from the Magic Mile since 2011, the UNOH 175 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event will run on Saturday, Sept. 20, the day before the OSRAM SYLVANIA 300 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship event on Sunday, Sept. 21. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series full-time driver Kyle Busch won the last three Truck Series races at the Magic Mile from 2009-11.

Border War: Northern, Southern Mods Invade Magic Mile
The debut of a new, all-star shootout event for NASCAR National and Southern Whelen Modified Series will create one of the biggest and most diverse pole days on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule on Friday, July 11 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Long known as the Super Bowl venue for the exciting NASCAR Whelen Modified Series, the Magic Mile will be the stage for the inaugural $25,000 shootout event. The special event will feature 20-24 cars, representing previous winners and champions from the national and southern touring series along with the 2013 Sunoco Rookies of the Year for both tours. The 30-minute race will pay $4,000 to win and $800 to start in the $1,000-lap shootout.

Win On Sunday, Sell on Monday: Toyota Renews with NHMS
If there’s a company that knows how to “win on Sunday and sell on Monday” at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, it’s Toyota. Speedway officials recently announced that it has renewed its relationship with the popular manufacturer, retaining Toyota as the speedway’s “official vehicle” through 2016. Toyota has been the speedway’s partner since 2011, and has enjoyed tremendous success both on the track and throughout the Boston region marketplace. Drivers have piloted Toyota Camrys into victory lane in three straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races dating back to 2012, while the manufacturer continues to be a leader in American automotive production, maintaining 10 manufacturing plants throughout the United States.

Global Appeal
New Hampshire Motor Speedway ticket officials have sold tickets across the globe for both NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekends in 2014. Fans in Canada, Austria, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Hungry and New Zealand have all purchased tickets for either/both the Camping World RV Sales 301 (July 10-13) or the OSRAM SYLVANIA 300 (Sept. 18-21). The Magic Mile has also sold tickets to all 50 states in North America.

**NATIONAL STORYLINES

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will make its one and only stop at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., this weekend:

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Next Race: Auto Club 400
The Place: Auto Club Speedway
The Date: Sunday, March 23
The Time: 3 p.m.
TV: FOX, 2:30 p.m.
Distance: 400 miles (200 laps)

Key stats from last week at Bristol Motor Speedway

Winner: Carl Edwards

Margin of Victory: Under caution

Cautions: 12 for 95 laps

Lead Changes: 20 among 12 drivers

Most Laps Led: Matt Kenseth 165 of 503

Top 16 Driver Points:

(1) B. Keselowski 163; (2) D. Earnhardt Jr. 153; (3) C. Edwards 152; (4) J. Gordon 152; (5) J. Johnson 143; (6) J. Logano 141; (7) D. Hamlin 140; (8) M. Kenseth 138;(9) R. Newman 125;(10) R. Stenhouse Jr. 122; (11) K. Kahne 120; (12) G. Biffle 118; (13) A. Dillon 117; (14) Kyle Busch 111; (15) M. Ambrose 108; (16) J. McMurray 100

Victories:

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (1)

Kevin Harvick (1)

Brad Keselowski (1)
Carl Edwards (1)

This race last year
Winner: Kyle Busch
Pole Sitter: Denny Hamlin
Margin of Victory: Under caution
Lead Changes: 17 among 8 drivers
Most Laps Led: Kyle Busch 125 of 200
Top-Five: Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Joey Logano, Carl Edwards and Kurt Busch.

Edwards Makes It 4-for-4; Is Johnson Next?
It’s win-and-you’re-in … and with his victory at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sundaynight, Carl Edwards more than likely locked himself into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. But, with a bevy of different winners so far this season, there’s a key phrase in the above sentence: “more than likely.” If there are more than 15 winners in the first 26 races, all bets are off – a race winner could be left out of the Chase. But again, it’s unlikely. Last year, there were five different winners to start the season – and the regular season still ended with “only” 13 different winners in the first 26 races. The record is 10 different winners to start a season, in 2000. In other words, if you have won a race, rest easy. You’re likely going to make the Chase Grid come lap 400 at Richmond in September. So, if there’s another new winner, who’s the best guess this weekend? It all starts with Jimmie Johnson. Johnson, an El Cajon, Calif., native, has won a record five races at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Johnson also has the most top fives (12), most top 10s (14), most laps led (851), top driver rating (119.6) and best average start (9.6) and finish (5.7). He’s good there. The six-time champion has finished in the top 10 in 10 of the last 11 races; his worst finish during that stretch was a 12th last season.

‘Smoke’  Billows After Bristol Top-Five
To start the season, the Twitter hashtag celebrating Tony Stewart’s return to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition was #StandWithSmoke. And soon, fans may be standing with him in Victory Lane. After scraping off some rust in the first three races of the season – he finished 35th, 16th and 33rd – Stewart blistered through the field at the end of Sunday’s race at Bristol to finish fourth. Now, after missing 15 races last year because of a broken leg, we may see Stewart win a race – maybe as soon as Sunday at Auto Club Speedway. Stewart has won two of the last three races at Auto Club Speedway. Over the last six ACS races, he finished in the top 10 four times.

Bouncing Back: Earnhardt Eyes Auto Club To Get On Track
Something, Bristol provided a speed bump in an otherwise dreamlike season for Dale Earnhardt Jr. But there’s always another race. In Sunday’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway, Earnhardt will try to rebound from his first finish outside the top two (he finished 24th at Bristol). In 21 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at the two-mile speedway, his best finish is a pair of second-place showings. His first runner-up showing came in September 2006 with the second one coming last March. In 2012, he finished third.

2014 Sunoco Rookie Of The Year Battle Heats Up
Kyle Larson and Austin Dillon completed their first 500-lap race at Bristol Motor Speedway, finishing 10th and 11th, respectively; with Larson taking Sunoco Rookie Of The Race honors for the second time this year. Though Dillon leads the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings, his lead is shrinking. He currently holds a six-point lead over Larson, down from eight after Las Vegas – his largest cushion of the season. Larson’s strong performance at Bristol put the rest of the field on high alert – though it’s his first season, he’s for real. Larson contended for the win in final 100 laps at Bristol, scoring a driver rating (104.5) that ranked fourth best. Can he back up this strong performance in his home state of California? Auto Club Speedway has been a site for big name first-time winners in the past. California native Jimmie Johnson scored his first Sprint Cup win as a ROY contender in his first start at Auto Club Speedway in 2002. Kyle Busch won his first NSCS Coors Light Pole Award and his first NSCS race at Auto Club Speedway as a ROY contender in 2005. None of this year’s ROY contenders have started a NSCS race at Auto Club Speedway. Dillon, Larson and Parker Kligerman are the only rookie contenders to post top-10 finishes at Auto Club Speedway in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Larson, a native of Elk Grove, Calif., posted a sixth-place finish in his only NNS start at what he considers to be his home track. Dillon finished fifth in each of his two NNS starts at Auto Club Speedway.

No Sophomore Slump For Stenhouse
During the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. managed to post one top five, three top 10s, and a highest finish of third. Through four races of the 2014 season Stenhouse Jr. has already posted one top five, two top 10s, and a highest finish of second. This year’s stats for Stenhouse seem are more comparable to his stats in the NASCAR Nationwide Series than any of his stats from last year’s rookie season. So what’s different this year about the No.17 Roush-Fenway Ford? Crew chief Mike Kelley. Stenhouse and Kelley enjoyed the success of two NASCAR Nationwide Series championships and eight NNS wins from 2011 to 2012. During this past off-season Stenhouse and Kelley requested to work together once again, this time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The duo knew this request would bring added attention, and added pressure. So far it has paid off.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Etc.
– Nine California natives are on the entry list for the  Auto Club 400: Johnson (El Cajon), Jeff Gordon (Vallejo), AJ Allmendinger (Los Gatos), Larson (Elk Grove), Casey Mears (Bakersfield), David Gilliland (Riverside), Cole Whitt (Alpine), Kevin Harvick (Bakersfield), Josh Wise (Riverside).
– Last year’s Auto Club Speedway winner Kyle Busch needs 67 laps led this weekend at Auto Club – a feat he’s accomplished five times at the two-mile track – to become the 15th driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series to log 10,000 laps led.
– Travis Kvapil will attempt to reach two milestones in one: 250 NASCAR Sprint Cup starts and 400 NASCAR national series starts.
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