New Hampshire Motor Speedway Magic Mile Notebook: Coca-Cola 600

PRESS RELEASE: New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Kevin Harvick wins last  year's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (Photo: Getty Images)

Kevin Harvick wins last year’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (Photo: Getty Images)

** NEW HAMPSHIRE NEWS**

Kahne Set to Spend a Day at Fire Academy on May 28
As a former July race winner (2012), Kasey Kahne will participate in a New Hampshire Motor Speedway Victory Tour on Wednesday, May 28, six weeks before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns for the Camping World RV Sales 301. Kahne’s day will begin at the New Hampshire Fire Academy giving him the opportunity to walk a day in the life of a firefighter. Kahne will participate in training activities and spend time with NH and Massachusetts firefighters before visiting with an exclusive group of fans. An RSVP for this event would be appreciated by May 27.

Hendrick, Ganassi to Test at NHMS on June 3-4
A six-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion. The current series’ points leader. The winner of this year’s Daytona 500. And the favorite to win this year’s Rookie of the Year. All four and more will visit the Granite State early to be on-track at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on June 3 and 4, for the Hendrick Motorsports and Ganassi Racing test session in preparation for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 on July 13. Media availability is TBA.

$10K Prize Awarded at NH Superintendent Race June 17
The third annual Race to Benefit Education will be run on June 17 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. This event will include school superintendents from throughout New Hampshire, who will put their driving skills to test behind the wheel of a school bus. The winner of this unique “learning experience” will be awarded with a check for $10,000 to be used towards an educational program of choice within his or her school district. Running alongside the Race to Benefit Education is the “School Program,” which is offering elementary, middle and high school students an opportunity to attend the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 and/or SYLVANIA 300 for free. The “School Program” runs through the end of this school year. Kids get a voucher for one free ticket, and adult ticket prices start at just $25. The discounted ticket price is available for the Camping World RV Sales 301 on Sunday, July 13, and the SYLVANIA 300 on Sunday, Sept. 21.

$100,000 to be Won at NHMS in “D4C” Race on July 12
NASCAR is launching its annual “Dash 4 Cash” competition, giving one talented driver a shot at winning $1 million this summer … and fans can get a big cut of the prize money right here in New Hampshire. The first pile of cash will be given out at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12 following the New England 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race. Fans who sign up at NASCAR.com will get the chance to compete for four Nationwide driver’s spots at Daytona’s July race to qualify for the “Dash 4 Cash.” Those four will then travel to NHMS and the fastest driver will speed off with $100,000.

‘Anthem Girl’ Faces Biggest Crowd at NHMS on July 13
Janine Stange, also known as “The National Anthem Girl” will stand before a crowd of nearly 100,000 fans on July 13 at the at the Camping World RV Sales 301 and sing “The Star Spangled Banner” as part of a 50-state tour to celebrate our nation’s patriotic song. Stange will perform before her largest crowd at New Hampshire Motor Speedway as stop No. 41 on her tour. She will sing a salute to our nation in every state by September 14, the official bicentennial of the national anthem, famously penned by Francis Scott Key.

**NATIONAL STORYLINES**

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Next Race: Coca-Cola 600
The Place: Charlotte Motor Speedway
The Date: Sunday, May 25
The Time: 6 p.m.
TV: FOX, 5:30 p.m.
Radio: PRN, Sirius XM Ch. 90
Distance: 600 miles (400 laps)

This race last year
Winner: Kevin Harvick
Pole Sitter: Denny Hamlin
Margin of Victory: 1.490 seconds
Lead Changes: 24 among 12 drivers
Most Laps Led: Kasey Kahne 161 of 400
Top-Five: Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano.

Surprise Winners, Glimpses Of Future Greatness
While perhaps not as inherently unpredictable as a restrictor-plate race, the Coca-Cola 600 nonetheless has a legitimate wild-card reputation. Six times since its 1960 inception, the 600 has provided a driver with his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win. On the other hand, the race is seldom won by people you could call longshots, at least not in hindsight. More often than not, big names prevail, although there have been several times with those names just weren’t big yet. Of those six breakthrough wins mentioned, four were by drivers who would go on to win NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships. Here’s that complete short list:

· 1961: David Pearson (He turned out to be fairly good, winning three NASCAR Sprint Cup championships and being inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame)

· 1994: Jeff Gordon (Went on to win four championships)

· 1995: Bobby Labonte (The 2000 champion)

· 2000: Matt Kenseth (The 2003 champion)

· 2007: Casey Mears (Wild-card factor; only career win)

· 2009: David Reutimann (Wild-card, part II, one of two career wins)

Overall in the 54-year history of the Coca-Cola 600, series champions – past present or future – have won 28 times. And of the 26 times “non-champions” who have won, we’re still looking at a stellar lineup that includes many of NASCAR’s all-time greats such as Fred Lorenzen, Jim Paschal, Marvin Panch, Donnie Allison, Buddy Baker, Neil Bonnett, Davey Allison and Mark Martin.

Johnson Circles 600 As Drought Quencher
Unless Jimmie Johnson breaks a long-standing tie atop the Charlotte wins this Sunday – and nabs the potential Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup spot that goes with it – this first third of Johnson’s season will be a dirty dozen, indeed. Johnson’s season-opening stretch of 0-for-11 isn’t unprecedented. But it’s close. Only once in his prolific career has Johnson needed 12 races to capture his first victory – way back in 2003, his sophomore season. Otherwise, he wins early – and often. Johnson took the pole on Thursday night for Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600.

Busch Latest Driver To Try Indy-Charlotte Doubleheader
On Sunday, for the ninth time, a driver will attempt to race both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day. Kurt Busch is the latest to sign up for this most daring of double-duty, driving at Indy for Andretti Autosport. Green flag is at noon (ET) for open-wheel’s biggest race. Later Sunday afternoon he’ll jet down to Charlotte to jump into his No. 41 Haas Automation Made in America Chevrolet for the 6 p.m. (ET) start of NASCAR’s longest race. The eight previous double-dips have been divided up by only three drivers – John Andretti (1994), Robby Gordon (1997, 2000, ’02, ’03, ’04) and Tony Stewart (’99 and ’01). Stewart has the best result – by far – in the books, having finished sixth at Indy and third at Charlotte in 2001, in the process becoming the only driver to complete all 1,100 miles between the two races. Busch qualified 10th for the Indianapolis 500, but crashed in a Monday practice session and will be forced to a back-up car.

McMurray Gunning For Charlotte Sweep
It’s a short – and stellar – list. And Jamie McMurray, winner of Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, yearns to join it. Only seven drivers have swept Charlotte “Speedweeks,” winning both the all-star race and the Coca-Cola 600: Darrell Waltrip (1985), Davey Allison (1991), Dale Earnhardt (1993), Jeff Gordon (1997), Jimmie Johnson (2003), Kasey Kahne (2008) and Kurt Busch (2010). Five of those drivers have won one or more NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships. McMurray, a big stage driver, already has won the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400. His first career win came in the October Charlotte race, in his second career start. His last two points paying wins came in the Chase race at Talladega Superspeedway and the fall 500-mile race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. McMurray has even won the Sprint Showdown at CMS. The only Charlotte race McMurray is missing at this point in his career is the Coca-Cola 600. McMurray’s best finish in the Coca-Cola 600 came 2010, with a second place finish. He has three top-10 finishes in the Coca-Cola 600, in 11 starts. McMurray’s average finish in the race is an 18.2.

Dillon Looking To End 600’s Rookie Hazing
Matt Kenseth stands alone on one very short list in Coca-Cola 600 lore. It’s the one titled “Rookie Winners In The Coca-Cola 600.” Only Kenseth’s name exists on that list, after his surprise first win in 2000. Many rookies have tried to conquer NASCAR’s longest race before and since, and all have come up short. Could this be the year that changes? Though unlikely, there’s a chance. Austin Dillon, who returns the No. 3 to the Coca-Cola 600 this weekend, could do it. This’ll be his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start at Charlotte, but he has enjoyed some success in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series there. Last October, he scored a runner-up finish in the Nationwide Series race. The No. 3, by the way, has won five times in the 600-mile race at Charlotte – three times with Dale Earnhardt driving, and one each with David Pearson and Buddy Baker.

 

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