Magic Mile Notebook – Food City 500
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.
Gappens to Speak at Leadership Forum
The Rivier University President’s Circle will host a Leadership Forum on Wednesday, 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.
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.
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.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will make the first of two stops this weekend at the “Cathedral,” Bristol Motor Speedway. The half-mile bowl has seen four different winners in its March race:
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Next Race: Food City 500
The Place: Bristol Motor Speedway
The Date: Sunday, March 16
The Time: 1 p.m.
TV: FOX, 12:30 p.m.
Radio: PRN, Sirius XM Ch. 90
Distance: 266.5 Miles (500 laps)
Key stats from last week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Winner: Brad Keselowski
Margin of Victory: 1.530 seconds
Cautions: 4 for 18 laps
Lead Changes: 21 among 10 drivers
Most Laps Led: Brad Keselowski 53 of 200
Top 16 Driver Points:
(1) D. Earnhardt Jr. 133; (2) B. Keselowski 132; (3) J. Johnson 117; (4) J. Logano 116; (5) J. Gordon 115; (6) C. Edwards 105; (7) M. Kenseth 105; (8) D. Hamlin 101; (9) R. Newman 97; (10) Kyle Busch 95; (11) J. McMurray 93; (12) G. Biffle 86; (13) A. Dillon # 84; (14) K. Harvick 83; (15) K. Kahne 83; (16) R. Stenhouse Jr. 80.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (1)
Kevin Harvick (1)
Brad Keselowski (1)
This race last year
Winner: Kasey Kahne
Pole Sitter: Kyle Busch
Margin of Victory: 1.700 seconds
Lead Changes: 17 among 10 drivers
Most Laps Led: Kasey Kahne 109 of 500
Top-Five: Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer
Deuces Wild: Brad K. Latest To Tame Bristol In The ‘2’
Brad Keselowski has won two of the last five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Bristol Motor Speedway, which should surprise absolutely no one. Even if it doesn’t seem immediately apparent, a closer look at statistical history shows he’s an heir to this slice of success. It’s all about the No. 2 – plus a trio of top-rung drivers who through the years have combined to give Team Penske a total of 10 victories at the historic .533-mile oval with three different manufacturers – Pontiac, Dodge and Ford. Rusty Wallace racked up seven BMS wins in the No. 2. And he had two other Bristol wins before that, driving for owner Raymond Beadle. Kurt Busch added an eighth Bristol win for Penske’s No. 2, that coming after four victories driving for Jack Roush. Keselowski brought the total to 10 with two straight trips to Bristol’s Victory Lane, winning the 2011 night race and then the 2012 spring event. He appears primed to bring home the 11th win, after winning this past Sunday At Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He comes in second in series points, merely one behind Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Earnhardt Earning Notice As Serious Chase Contender
Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads the series points for the third consecutive week. Never before has Earnhardt led the series points for three consecutive weeks. A Daytona 500 victory followed by runner-up efforts at Phoenix and Las Vegas has brought us to this milestone marker. It appears we have a contender to consider. Which brings us to this week – Sunday’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway, the half-mile cereal-bowl of an oval where Earnhardt has run consistently, if not spectacularly. He has 28 starts, with top-10 finishes in half of those; toss in an average finish of 11.5 and one victory, in the track’s 2004 summertime night race. Clearly, a comfort level exists for Earnhardt at Bristol.
JGR’s Milestone Men: Busch, Kenseth Aim For Chase Berth Something, anything, has to go Kyle Busch’s way one of these weekends. He’s led two of the first three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, eclipsed the 100 driver rating figure in all three, tallied fastest laps run in all three – and has only one top-10 finish to show for it. And barely –his ninth place run at Phoenix is his best thus far. Those frustrating finishes could end this weekend. Statistically, at Bristol, a strong Busch run usually culminates with a likewise strong finish. He has 15 wins there across NASCAR’s three national series – more than any other driver in national series history at Bristol. Five of those wins came in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the last coming in March of 2011. Busch is approaching a major series milestone, one that could come this Sunday at Bristol. With 140 laps led – something he’s done four times at Bristol – Busch will become the 15th driver in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history with 10,000 laps led.
Speaking of milestones – at Las Vegas last Sunday, Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth scored his 250th career top 10, becoming the 22nd driver to accomplish that feat. Kenseth has scored top 10s in two of the first three races. After a series-high seven victories last year, Kenseth could nab his first this season – as well as the likely Chase berth that comes with it – with another strong run at Bristol. He has three wins overall, the last coming in a thrilling end-of-race battle with Kasey Kahne last August. Kenseth has led laps in each of the last five Bristol races – combining for 414 laps led, the most of any driver during that span.
Bristol Could Be Good For What Ails Stewart-Haas Racing
Stewart-Haas Racing, a preseason powerhouse on paper, is struggling in real time, Kevin Harvick’s Phoenix victory notwithstanding. Harvick stands 14th in points. Tony Stewart is 27th. Kurt Busch is 28th. And Danica Patrick is 33rd. Harvick’s win is the only top-10 finish for the organization thus far. This past Sunday in Las Vegas, Patrick’s 21st-place finish was the best of the four. Hellooooo, Bristol, where SHR has some solid history, starting with Busch who in the past has won at BMS driving for both Roush Fenway Racing and Team Penske; from 2002-04 he won four out of six BMS races. Patrick will likely hit a milestone at Bristol, starting her 50th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. In three starts at Bristol, Patrick has an average finish of 27.7.
Dillon, Larson Head Sunoco Rookie Standings
Most predicted Austin Dillon and Kyle Larson to duke it out at the top of the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings. It took three weeks, but that’s exactly what is currently happening. Dillon has sat atop the rookie standings since the first race in Daytona. Alex Bowman and Cole Whitt swapped the second spot after Daytona and Phoenix, respectively. But after a second-consecutive top-20 finish, Larson climbed into second-place after Las Vegas. Dillon’s 16th-place finish and Larson’s 19th at Vegas marked the first time this season that two members of this year’s large – and talented – rookie class finished in the top 20 in the same race. This weekend at Bristol could be more of the same. Dillon finished in the top five of two of the last three Bristol race in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Larson, memorably, finished second in last year’s NNS spring Bristol race to go along with a fifth-place finish in the summer night race. Larson battled door-to-door with Kyle Busch in that runner-up finish.
Gas ’n go
– Milestone Watch: Michael McDowell, who will run the No. 95 Leavine Family Racing Ford this weekend at Bristol, will attempt to make his 150th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start.
– In Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, Jimmie Johnson will attempt to nab his 300th NASCAR national series top-10 finish. The breakdown of the first 299: 275 in the NSCS and 24 in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Johnson has started one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, but finished 34th (at Bristol in 2008).
– This Friday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. ET will mark the first edition of the new knock-out qualifying session at a short track. Team Penske drivers Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano have started on the front row in each of the last two races.