12 of the 16 drivers contending for the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup have wins at this weekend’s track, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, home of the Sylvania 300. The 1.058-mile oval, known as the “Magic Mile,” has hosted 39 races to date, and Chaser Jeff Gordon has raced in all of them. Gordon is one of four drivers in the Chase with three wins at the facility in Loudon, but there’s another driver not competing for the championship who also has three wins – and is looking for a breakout in a major way.
Jeff Gordon – Gordon sits second in Chase points after Chicagoland and now heads to a track where he’s found some success: three wins (though none since 1998), 22 top 10 finishes and four poles in 39 starts. He will definitely want to improve on his July finish, a disappointing 26th – which would be even more disappointing in a Chase run where finishing up front is a necessity.
Jimmie Johnson – Johnson, currently eighth in the Chase, has three wins and 17 top 10 finishes in 25 starts at NHMS, with his most recent win coming in June 2010. Like his teammate Gordon, he needs to improve greatly on his July finish, a 42nd-place run that ended in a wreck after just 11 laps on track.
Kurt Busch – Busch, sitting ninth in points, has three wins and 11 top 10 finishes in 278 starts at New Hampshire, his last win back in 2008. In July, Busch finished 17th; since then, Busch has picked up four top 10 finishes in the last eight races, including eighth last weekend at Chicagoland.
Ryan Newman – Newman is currently on the elimination end of the Chase, sitting 13th in points – but NHMS has been very good to him in the past. In addition to three wins, Newman, who finished fifth in the July race, has 16 top 10 finishes in 25 starts as well as seven poles – the most of any driver at the track; his most recent pole came in last year’s race. Newman’s also been rather impressive in Whelen Modified Tour races at the track: in 11 starts, he’s earned two wins, seven top 10s and four poles.
One to watch: Tony Stewart – Stewart could use a break, and NHMS is one of his better tracks on the circuit. Stewart also has three wins at the track, the last coming during his epic Chase assault in 2011. Earlier this year, Stewart finished seventh – one of just six top 10 finishes he’s earned this season. Stewart has won at least one in each of his first 15 seasons in the Cup Series – NHMS is as good a track as any to make a comeback on.
Keep up with the action this weekend at www.nascar.com.
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