Sylvania 300 News and Notes

Sylvania 300 News and Notes

NASCAR NNCS - THE CHASE BEGINS

Below is a look at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 12, going into the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway on Sept. 16. This weekend marks the first race in the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.

1 – Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet) The File: • 31 years old from El Cajon, Calif., 28 career wins • Six wins, 14 top fives, 16 top 10s • Average finish of 13.0 • Led 15 of 26 races for 966 laps New Hampshire International Speedway Outlook: • Two wins, three top fives, six top 10s • Average finish of 11.1 • Finished fifth in July • Led four of 11 races for 85 laps Season-to-Date Loop Data Highlight: • Series-high 672 Fastest Laps Run

2 – Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) The File: • 36 years old, Vallejo, Calif., 79 career wins • Four wins, 15 top fives, 21 top 10s this year • Six poles • Average finish of 8.2 this season • Led 18 of 26 races for 1,033 laps New Hampshire International Speedway Outlook: • Three wins, 11 top fives, 14 top 10s; three poles • Average finish of 12.0 • Finished second at NHIS in July • Led 17 of 25 races for 1,141 laps Season-to-Date Loop Data Highlight: • Series-best Average Running Position of 8.6

3 – Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet) The File: • 36 years old from Columbus, Ind., 32 career wins • Three wins, nine top fives, 18 top 10s • Average finish of 12.3 • Led 17 of 26 races for 890 laps New Hampshire International Speedway Outlook: • Two wins, nine top fives, 10 top 10s • Average finish of 13.4 • Finished 12th in July • Led eight of 17 races for 764 laps Season-to-Date Loop Data Highlight: • 547 Fastest Laps Run, second-most

4 – Carl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot Ford) The File: • 28 years old from Columbia, Mo., six career wins • Two wins, seven top fives, 11 top 10s • Average finish of 13.3 • Led 10 of 26 races for 333 laps New Hampshire International Speedway Outlook: • One top five • Average finish of 14.0 • Finished 13th in July • Led one of six races for two laps Season-to-Date Loop Data Highlight: • 5,506 Laps in the Top 15, sixth-most

5 – Kurt Busch (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge) The File: • 29 years old from Las Vegas, Nev., 17 career wins • Two wins, five top fives, 10 top 10s • Average finish of 15.0 • Led 15 of 26 races for 651 laps New Hampshire International Speedway Outlook: • Two wins, four top fives, five top 10s • Average finish of 16.6 • Finished 21st in July • Led five of 13 races for 288 laps Season-to-Date Loop Data Highlight: • 1,414 Quality Passes, second-most

6 – Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet) The File: • 26 years old, Chesterfield, Va., three career wins • One win, 10 top fives, 15 top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 12.3 • Led 13 of 26 races for 738 laps New Hampshire International Speedway Outlook: • One win, two top fives, three top 10s • Average finish of 3.7 • Won at NHIS in July • Led all three of his NHIS races for 51 laps Season-to-Date Loop Data Highlight: • 395 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most

7 – Martin Truex Jr. (No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) The File: • 27 years old from Mayetta, N.J., one career win • One win, five top fives, 10 top 10s • Average finish of 15.7 • Led 10 of 26 races for 350 laps New Hampshire International Speedway Outlook: • One top five • Average finish of 14.3 • Finished third in July • Led one of three races for 46 laps Season-to-Date Loop Data Highlight: • Series-high 2,369 Green Flag Passes

8 – Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Ford) The File: • 35 years old from Cambridge, Wis., 15 career wins • One win, eight top fives, 16 top 10s • Average finish of 12.1 • Led 14 of 26 races for 288 laps New Hampshire International Speedway Outlook: • Five top fives, 10 top 10s • Average finish of 10.7 • Finished ninth in July • Led five of 15 races for 88 laps Season-to-Date Loop Data Highlight: • Series-high 7,084 laps run on the lead lap

9 – Kyle Busch
(No. 5 Kellogg’s/CARQUEST Chevrolet) The File: • 22 years old from Las Vegas, Nev., four career wins • One win, six top fives, 14 top 10s • Average finish of 13.9 • Led 13 of 26 races for 274 laps New Hampshire International Speedway Outlook: • One win, two top fives • Average finish of 16.2 • Finished 11th July • Led two of five races for 155 laps Season-to-Date Loop Data Highlight: • Fifth-fastest average Green Flag Speed

10 – Jeff Burton (No. 31 AT&T Mobility Chevrolet) The File: • 40 years old from South Boston, Va., 19 career wins • One win, seven top fives, 12 top 10s • Average finish of 13.4 • Led six of 26 races for 28 laps New Hampshire International Speedway Outlook: • Four wins, seven top fives, 12 top 10s • Average finish of 13.0 • Finished seventh in July • Led 10 of 25 races for 694 laps Season-to-Date Loop Data Highlight: • 1,340 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green flag conditions), fourth-most

11 – Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet) The File: • 31 years old from Bakersfield, Calif., 11 career victories • One win, four top fives, 11 top 10s • Average finish of 15.5 this season • Led nine of 26 races for 251 laps New Hampshire International Speedway Outlook: • One win, three top fives, eight top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 12.3 • Finished eighth in July • Led seven of 13 for 264 laps Season-to-Date Loop Data Highlight: • Third-best Closer – 40 positions improved over the last 10% of races

12 – Clint Bowyer (No. 07 Jack Daniel’s Chevrolet) The File: • 28 years old from Emporia, Kan. • Two top fives, 12 top 10s; one pole • Average finish of 14.8 • Led nine of 26 races for 84 laps New Hampshire International Speedway Outlook: • Average finish of 29.3 • Finished 37th in July • Led one of three races for 23 laps Season-to-Date Loop Data Highlight: • Eighth-best Closer – 33 positions improved over the last 10% of races

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NASCAR Chase
By Micah Roberts
VegasInsider.com

And now the playoffs begin! We have separated all the pretenders from the contenders, cleaned up the crumbs off the dinner table, and sent the homely girls packing at the pageant. Though the drivers who don’t rank in the top 12 are still allowed to run the final 10 races, the spotlight will be among what actually looks to be the best 12 teams in the Cup Series this season. Dale Earnhardt Jr missed the Chase for the Championship this season only because he’s not part of one of the 12 best teams.

There are all kinds of stats and data you can go through to figure who is going to win the Chase. It’s important to be fair and un-biased when deciphering through all the trends. Don’t sell yourself short on a driver that may have a legitimate shot at winning like Tony Stewart because you happen to be a devout Lowe’s home improvement shopper. So let’s take a look at some questions you may ask yourself.

What teams are hot? Who is that is coming in full throttle with a running head start as the green flag for the Chase begins?

At this juncture, 2 wins in a row by Jimmie Johnson would qualify pretty well as the correct answer. This guy is in cruise control and looks to get a jump on going back to back as Champion. Johnson also has a nice edge because he starts the 10 race run with a 20 point lead due to his 6 wins on the season. Of the 8 tracks that the teams have run on already this season that they’ll run in the next 10 races, Johnson has two wins and an average finish of 9½.

What driver rates the best of all 12 Chase drivers on the 8 tracks in the chase that have already been run on this season?
This may come as a surprise to many, but the correct answer is Matt Kenseth. He doesn’t have a win in any of the 8 tracks this season, but he does have great consistent runs. He’s had four top 5 finishes and no finish worse than 14th on any of the 8 tracks. His average finish on the 8 tracks is 7½. Not bad for a driver listed as high as 12 to 1 to win it all.

What driver has no chance of winning the title based on his past results at Chase tracks this season?
As much as we love Kyle Busch in Las Vegas, he’s just got too much going against him in this 10 race stretch. First off, in the 8 races he ran already in which he’ll face over the next 3 months, finished 30th or worse in 4 of those. His best finish was a 4th at Martinsville. The 3 sister tracks with similar banking and configurations of Charlotte, Atlanta, and Texas were the cruelest to Kyle. Just as we say to expect those who do well on the 3 tracks combined to do so again, we say that those who do poorly will do so again. Oh yeah, one more thing. Kyle’s lame duck status with Hendrick while the company’s poster boys, and supposed teammates, are vying for championships will not help him get the best equipment in the shop.

Will the Car of Tomorrow have a major role in the Chase?
The COT will race in 5 of the races. In four of those races the car has already raced. Talladega ran the car of yesterday in the earlier race this season. Interestingly enough, as my favorite of all time, Vin Scully says, Denny Hamlin happened to be the best combined in those 4 COT races. Hamlin won at New Hampshire, finished 3rd at Martinsville and Phoenix, and then settled for 4th at Dover. It’s fair to assume that Hamlin will have a nice edge in those races. As far as the other races, only Kenseth has a better average finish on the 8 combined tracks where Hamlin has come with an impressive 8.6 average.

Will the NASCAR Playoffs ever be as exciting as the other major sports?

Never! NASCAR has its big event and that is the Daytona 500. NASCAR has a long season that begins in February and runs through November. Just like baseball, football sort of steals some of the thunder from both the fans and media. I like the way NASCAR has tweaked the format of the Chase each year in an attempt to make it the best it could possibly be. If I had to rank the major sports playoffs, I’d go baseball, NFL, College hoops, the Champions League Soccer, and then Hockey. College Football doesn’t have a playoff, or it would have made it. And no, I didn’t forget the WNBA or NBA; both leagues just aren’t that “fantastic”. The Bass Pro Shops fishing championships have long past the NBA in my rankings.

Race #1 of the Chase: New Hampshire
We have already had a really good look at Loudon with Denny Hamlin winning. Jeff Gordon was great in the race with a 2nd as was the DEI duo of Junior and martin Truex Jr. The only thing that has changed is that both Dodge and Ford have gotten much better in the COT races. Kasey Kahne, Kurt Busch, and Ruyan Newman have led the Dodge charge while Foerd has been led by Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth. Last week, their Roush teammate, David Ragan came out of nowhere to have a great top 5 finish at Richmond.

Many of the top cars we saw last week at Richmond will do well this week. We hate sounding like a broken record on the matter, but New Hampshire, Phoenix, and Richmond all tie nicely together in regards to set-ups. Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart looked great last week, but we’re stubborn and believe Hamlin had the car to beat even though he may not have in reality. I like the sweep trend at New Hampshire. Johnson did it in 2003, Kurt Busch did it in 2004, and Tony Stewart should have in 2005. Hamlin has never finished worse than 6th on this track.

Top 5 Finish Position:

1)       #11 Denny Hamlin (6/1)
2)       #20 Tony Stewart (8/1)
3)       #48 Jimmie Johnson (5/1)
4)       #8 Dale Earnhardt Jr (15/1)
5)       #5 Kyle Busch (10/1)                 

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Re: Sylvania 300 News and Notes

NASCAR - SYLVANIA 300 - Odds to Win

Jeff Gordon 9-2

Jimmie Johnson 5-1

Tony Stewart 7-1

Denny Hamlin 6-1

Matt Kenseth 18-1

Kyle Busch 8-1

Kurt Busch 12-1

Carl Edwards 10-1

Martin Truex Jr 12-1

Kevin Harvick 12-1

Jeff Burton 25-1

Dale Earnhardt Jr 12-1

Regan Smith 100-1

Ryan Newman 30-1

Clint Bowyer 30-1

Casey Mears 50-1

Greg Biffle 50-1

Jamie McMurray 75-1

Juan Pablo Montoya 100-1

Kasey Kahne 30-1

Reed Sorenson 100-1

Paul Menard 100-1

Bobby Labonte 100-1

David Stremme 100-1

Elliott Sadler 100-1

Robby Gordon 100-1

Dave Blaney 100-1

JJ Yeley 100-1

Jeff Green 100-1

Kenny Wallace 100-1

Bill Elliott 100-1

David Gilliland 100-1

David Ragan 100-1

Field (Any Other Driver) 50-1

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Said to Drive for GEM at NHIS
RacingOne.com

Gillett Evernham Motorsports announced that Boris Said will be behind the wheel of a fourth NEXTEL Cup entry this weekend at New Hampshire International Speedway.

Said will be running the No. 98 Valvoline/Stanley Tools Avenger in what would be his first Cup start on an intermediate track since 2005.

Gillett Evernham Motorsports has built a successful relationship with Said in the Busch Series over the past two seasons resulting in a pole, a second-place finish, two top fives and 31 laps led in nine starts.

The No. 10 Avenger of Scott Riggs will be running its Stanley Tools primary paint scheme at New Hampshire as Gillett Evernham Motorsports’ three full-time teams including, No. 19-Elliott Sadler and No. 9-Kasey Kahne, will remain unchanged.

“Fielding the No. 98 Valvoline/Stanley Tools Dodge Avenger at New Hampshire this weekend is the start of some additional research and development Gillett Evernham Motorsports will be doing with the COT heading into the 2008 season,” Ray Evernham said. “This is also an excellent opportunity to get Boris (Said) some seat time at a Nextel Cup race considering all he has done for our Busch and road course programs over the last two seasons.”

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Who's Hot / Who's Not in the Chase: Richmond Edition

Now that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. watch is over, the focus over the last ten races of the year will be on the twelve drivers making a run for the Nextel Cup Championship. With his second straight victory, Jimmie Johnson put the competition on notice that they will have to take on the No. 48 team in order to take the trophy that they earned last season. But with six of the Chase drivers finishing in the Top 10 at Richmond, many others are proving to be up to the challenge of trying to take down the top seed.

So, who left Richmond riding high and ready for battle, and which drivers walked away wishing they had a little more time to prepare? Read this week’s Who’s Hot and Who’s Not in the Chase for the Championship to find out.

Hot

Jimmie Johnson: After a summertime slump that saw him go 15 races without a win, Johnson has flipped the switch and heads into the Chase as the top seeded driver with six wins on the year. Of course, that total includes back-to-back victories at Fontana and Richmond, giving him solid momentum heading into New Hampshire next week. The change for the better came for the No. 48 driver after he posted two straight DNF’s at Chicago and Indy, dropping to ninth in the standings while watching both the team and his confidence plummet. But then, Chad Knaus returned from a six-week suspension, and the team’s been on a roll ever since, scoring four Top 5s in the last five races to put themselves back on the map. This hot pace will be hard to keep up as the Chase battle brews anew, but the No. 48 team is serving notice that they will be a force to be reckoned with as they go for two championships in a row.

Kurt Busch: The last time the series visited Loudon, Busch was 15th in the standings and seemed to be a longshot to make the Chase; but wow, what a difference two months can make. In those nine starts since the race in July, Busch hasn’t finished lower than 11th, scoring two wins in the process; that torrid pace gave him the fifth spot in the standings heading into the playoffs. It’s obvious that the No. 2 crew has a new attitude about them after the arrival of new crew chief Pat Tryson, and the results are showing up on the track. Car of now or Car of Tomorrow, short or intermediate track, this team is getting the job done – and Busch rolls into the Chase with a serious shot of stealing the title for Dodge.

Tony Stewart: While Johnson was suffering from the summertime blues, Stewart got his usual summer hot streak underway, leaving no doubt about if he was going to be back in the Chase this year. In the last six races, Stewart has racked up five Top 10 finishes, with his “worst” run being a 13th at Fontana, where the team struggled to find the handling on the car until late in the race. Since then, the temperatures may be falling with Fall around the corner, but Smoke’s performance is not. Remember, this team has been in the midst of the title fight before, and after missing the Chase last year, you know they are going to do everything possible to keep this roll going all the way to the trophy at Homestead.

Warm

Denny Hamlin: In the last six races, Hamlin has put up some very impressive stats; four Top 10 finishes and one DNF. It’s pretty obvious why the Top 10s are important; Top 10s lead to Top 5s, which lead to wins, which lead to longterm gains. But the DNF? What is so impressive about that particular stat is the fact that his blown engine at Bristol marked only his second career DNF. It’s that kind of consistency that has allowed Hamlin to make the Chase in his first two seasons in Nextel Cup. He has just one win this season, which came at Loudon nine races ago, but consistent Top 5s and Top 10s without the big disasters could prove key to his Chase success.

Carl Edwards: Have you ever seen a happier driver sitting in the garage with a blown motor during a race than Edwards Saturday night? Of course, why wouldn’t he be smiling? He led 15 laps of the race at Richmond before the engine let go, and he heads into the Chase on a roll with four Top 10s in the last five races, his longest streak all season. With wins at Bristol and Michigan, Edwards has shown he can get the job done on a variety of tracks this season. He’ll have plenty of competition in the Chase from the bowtie brigade, however; but, if one of the blue oval drivers is going to steal the title, it very well could be Edwards, as he looks to make up for last year’s disappointment of not making the Chase.

Jeff Gordon: After leading the standings since week five, Gordon relinquished the top spot to his teammate Jimmie Johnson following the seeding of the 12 drivers in the Chase. While twenty points isn’t a huge deficit to overcome, Gordon really shouldn’t have been in this position in the first place, however. He gave up a win at Watkins Glen, which would have tied him with Johnson for the lead at the time, and he’s looked a little more inconsistent from that point on. But with his spot in the Chase a foregone conclusion for several weeks now, Gordon and his team seemed to go into experimental mode. On the bright side, when it got down to crunch time at Richmond, and the final ten bonus points were on the line, Gordon put in a solid Top 5 finish. Now we just have to watch if the Gordon of old comes back, or if those poor finishes were due to more than a little bit of in-race testing.

Martin Truex, Jr.: As DEI’s lone representative in the Chase, plenty of questions surround Truex heading into the final ten races of the year. Will the first-time pressure get to him and, more importantly, will the engine gremlins that wrecked havoc on Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s season land at his door? So far, neither has had an impact as the Chase approached. In the six races leading up to the playoffs, Truex has scored three Top 10s and five Top 15s. Returning to the site of his first career win at Dover next week should bode well for the No. 1 team, but entering the Chase at New Hampshire, the team is performing pretty well to begin with.

Kyle Busch: Busch enters the Chase on a down note after posting his worst career finish at Richmond, a track he normally excels at. But looking at his recent results overall, it’s not a case of all doom and gloom for the No. 5 team. In the last six races, Busch has three Top 10 finishes and no finish worse than 20th (Richmond). His one win at Bristol was good enough to give him the ninth seed in the Chase, and with just one DNF this season, his team has run consistently and up front all year. But now that the pressure is on to beat his Hendrick teammates, we will see how well Busch can perform when the big prize is on the line.

Cool

Clint Bowyer: Bowyer has the unenviable position of being the only driver in the Top 12 without a win…but believe me, it’s not for a lack of trying. Several times this year, Bowyer has put himself in position to rack up that first win, only to come up just short. Heading into Loudon, he has just two Top 10s in the last six races, a possible cause of concern for the Jack Daniel’s team. And while he doesn’t have a win like the other drivers, he is one of just two men in the Chase field that does not have a DNF to his credit this year. But that doesn’t mean very much considering the lackluster series of performances they are on right now.

Matt Kenseth: While Kenseth isn’t running what you would normally consider poorly, he is certainly running worse than his competitors in the Chase. Since the Pocono race in July, Kenseth has just two Top 10 finishes, leading just a solitary lap in one of the last four events. Kenseth’s M.O is quiet, consistent Top 10 and Top 5 finishes, something he has enjoyed over the last six races. The first trip to Loudon kicked off a string of four straight Top 10s for the No. 17 team, and there’s no reason that can’t happen again. But this team is going to have to get off to a hot start in the Chase, because they aren’t the type of team that will usually reel off a string of wins to make up lost ground.

Cold

Jeff Burton and Kevin Harvick: If there are two drivers heading into the Chase on the cold side, it’s RCR teammates Burton and Harvick. In the last six races, each driver has just one Top 10 finish to hang their hats on; clearly, that’s not very Chase-like. Luckily, Harvick’s came right when he needed it, shining at Richmond Saturday night in order to claim the final spot in the Chase. Burton’s struggles, meanwhile, were early and often last week at Fontana, which helped him secure his position on the Top 12. Both drivers have been running in the Top 15 or 20 over the last month, and that’s just not going to get it done as the season comes to a close if they want to bring the hardware back to RCR.

This weekend, the Chase kicks off at New Hampshire International Speedway. Will someone find themselves behind the eight ball early with a poor finish the first race out? Can Jimmie Johnson make it three wins in a row, capturing momentum he’d been looking for all season long? Or will Denny Hamlin sweep Loudon – and the safety barriers – this year? And perhaps most importantly…an Jeff Gordon prove to us that he was just fooling around the last month and kick it back into high gear? We’ll just have to wait and see until next week to find out Who’s Hot and Who’s Not in the Chase for the Nextel Cup.

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Re: Sylvania 300 News and Notes

New Hampshire Data
By Micah Roberts
VegasInsider.com 

Sylvania 300

Race #: 27 of 36 (9-16-07)

Track Size: 1.058 miles

Race Length: 317.4 miles (300 laps)

NASCAR Loop System Driver Rating at New Hampshire (Top 3 loop choices have been stout all season long)

Tony Stewart 116.9

Denny Hamlin 109.5

Jeff Gordon 106.4

Kevin Harvick 104.4

Ryan Newman 101.9

Dale Earnhardt Jr. 101.3

Jeff Burton 99.8

Brian Vickers 99.0

Kyle Busch 94.6

Jimmie Johnson 93.0

Note: Driver Rating compiled from 2005-2007 races (5 total) at New Hampshire.

Qualifying/Race Data

2006 pole winner: Kevin Harvick (132.282 mph, 28.793 seconds)

2006 race winner: Kevin Harvick, 102.195 mph, 9-17-06)

Track qualifying record: Ryan Newman (133.357 mph, 28.561 secs., 9-12-03)

Track race record: Jeff Burton (117.134 mph, 7-13-97)

Estimated Pit Window: 70-78 laps, based on fuel mileage

Top Drivers to do well at New Hampshire based on their past there

Note: All driver statistics that follow are from New Hampshire International Speedway. The Loop Data statistics – Driver Rating, Average Running Position, etc. – in this release, however, cover the last five races at New Hampshire. NASCAR’s scoring loops began collecting data for statistical purposes in 2005.

Kyle Busch (No. 5 Kellogg’s/CARQUEST Chevrolet)

• One win, two top fives

• Average finish of 16.2

• Average Running Position of 13.6, 11th-best

• Driver Rating of 94.6, ninth-best

• 86 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most

• 973 Laps in the Top 15, eighth-most

Jeff Burton (No. 31 AT&T Mobility Chevrolet)

• Four wins, seven top fives, 12 top 10s

• Average finish of 13.0

• Driver Rating of 99.8, seventh-best

• Average Running Position of 10.7, fifth-best

• Eighth-fastest Green Flag Speed

• 1,208 Laps in the Top 15, second-most

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet)

• Four top fives, seven top 10s

• Average finish of 17.6

• Average Running Position of 12.7, eighth-best

• Driver Rating of 101.3, sixth-best

• 73 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most

• 218 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most

• Second-fastest Green Flag Speed

• 1,142 Laps in the Top 15, fifth-most

• 149 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), third-most

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet)

• Three wins, 11 top fives, 14 top 10s; three poles

• Average finish of 12.0

• Series-best Average Running Position of 7.4

• Driver Rating of 106.4, third-best

• 122 Fastest Laps Run, second-most

• Third-fastest Green Flag Speed

• Series-high 1,321 Laps in the Top 15

• 151 Quality Passes, second-most

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet)

• One win, two top fives, three top 10s

• Average finish of 3.7

• Average Running Position of 8.8, second-best

• Driver Rating of 109.5, second-best

• Fifth-fastest Green Flag Speed

• 88.5% of his laps in the top 15 (804 total), second-highest percentage of any driver

• 115 Quality Passes for an average of 38 per race, best average per race of any driver

Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet)

• One win, three top fives, eight top 10s; one pole

• Average finish of 12.3

• Average Running Position of 10.2, third-best

• Driver Rating of 104.4, fourth-best

• 91 Fastest Laps Run, third-most

• Sixth-fastest Green Flag Speed

• 1,138 Laps in the Top 15, sixth-most

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet)

• Two wins, three top fives, six top 10s

• Average finish of 11.1

• Average Running Position of 13.9, 12th-best

• Driver Rating of 93.0, 10th-best

• 32 Fastest Laps Run, 14th-best

• 1,133 Laps in the Top 15, seventh-best

• 148 Quality Passes, fourth-most

Ryan Newman (No. 12 Alltel Dodge)

• Two wins, five top fives, eight top 10s

• Average finish of 11.3

• Driver Rating of 101.9, fifth-best

• Average Running Position of 13.5, 10th-best

• 85 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most

• Seventh-fastest Green Flag Speed

• 1,151 Laps in the Top 15, fourth-most

Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet)

• Two wins, nine top fives, 10 top 10s

• Average finish of 13.4

• Series-best Driver Rating of 116.9

• Average Running Position of 10.8, sixth-best

• Series-high 173 Fastest Laps Run

• Fastest Green Flag Speed

• 1,200 Laps in the Top 15, third-most

• Series-high 160 Quality Passes

ODDS & ENDS at New Hampshire International Speedway

History

• Groundbreaking for the New Hampshire International Speedway was August 13, 1989. The official opening was June 5, 1990 with the first race being a NASCAR Busch Series race on July 15, 1990.

• The first Cup race was held on July 11, 1993.

• The first year of two-a-year races at New Hampshire was 1997.

• All Cup races at New Hampshire have been scheduled for 300 laps.

Notebook

• There have been 25 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races since the track opened in 1993.

• Mark Martin won the first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Bud Pole at New Hampshire in July 1993.

• Rusty Wallace won the first Cup race at New Hampshire.

• There have been 13 different Bud Pole winners, led by Ryan Newman (four). Qualifying has been canceled three times.

• Sixteen different drivers have posted victories, led by Jeff Burton (four).

• Jack Roush and Rick Hendrick have each won three races at New Hampshire, more than any other car owners.

• Thirteen of 25 races at New Hampshire have been won from the top-10 starting positions, including three from the pole.

• The farthest back a race winner started was 38th by Jeff Burton in 1999.

• There has been one green-white-checkered finish at New Hampshire: July 2006 (308 laps).

• Jeff Burton led all 300 laps raced in the 2000 fall race, only the third time in the modern era that a driver has led all of the laps in a race.

• Ken Schrader is the only driver to sweep both poles (1997).

• There have been six different races winners in the last six races at New Hampshire. Five of those winners are Chase drivers.

• The driver that led the most laps has won the race at New Hampshire in 11 of the 25 races, including both races in 2006.

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NASCAR Betting - Field Set For Cup Chase
By D.S. Williamson

The field is set for the Nextel Cup Chase after Jimmie Johnson won his second race in a row last Saturday night. BetUS match-up NASCAR betting odds should get very interesting as all twelve drivers within the chase look to race smart instead of trying to win every race. That makes betting on NASCAR extremely challenging but well worth it if you find the right match-up.

Here is a run-down of each driver from number 1 to number 12 and their match-up potential for betting profit.

1. Jimmie Johnson – He is hot. Flat-out on fire. If you bet against Jimmie make sure it’s with the right match-up which you likely will not get from now until the end of the Chase. No reason why Jimmie shouldn’t rack up his second straight Nextel Cup.

2. Jeff Gordon – If Jimmie falters, then his teammate could very well pick-up the pieces. Only one of two other drivers in the Chase who could take down Johnson. Depending on the match-up, Gordon could be an excellent bet, that is, if you don’t mind giving up more than normal juice. Still, Gordon is safe and sometimes a safe bet is better than a risky bet.

3. Tony Stewart – Another safe bet in match-up wagering. Doubt you will get the odds that were posted last Saturday, T. Stewart + 110 versus Denny Hamlin, but you might get something close. Against any driver, including Johnson, getting odds on Stewart is a good bet as Stewart has more heart than anyone in the Chase. The man will never quit. The second driver who can take down Johnson.

4. Carl Edwards – Could surprise at a price in match-up betting. Has been driving well lately, but doesn’t have the car, usually, that the top three do. Still, if you get good odds, he could make some noise.

5. Kurt Busch – Like Edwards, the elder Busch has been driving well. His car is another matter as it just isn’t firing the way it was earlier in the year. A few times the past few weeks Busch has had a chance to make money for NASCAR bettors in match-ups, with odds, but has failed to do so.

6. Denny Hamlin – When he’s in a great car, he drives as good as anybody, but what kind of car is he going to show up in? A tough wager no matter who he faces as he isn’t consistent enough to make noise in the Chase. Young Denny needs seasoning before becoming great in the Nextel Cup Series.

7. Martin Truex, Jr. – A tough driver who, under the right circumstances, could make astute NASCAR bettors a lot of money, but you have to pay attention to all the little details going up to the race. Can definitely fall apart on you and makes mistakes that causes him a number of places in his races. A good driver, but not great.

8. Matt Kenseth – Tough to recommend in any match-up as he usually doesn’t get the best match-up possible. Facing the likes of Johnson, Gordon, and Stewart means that Kenseth has to drive as well as they do in match-up betting. That usually doesn’t happen.

9. Kyle Busch – Won’t recommend at all as Kurt’s little brother tends to get hot-headed and make ridiculous mistakes out on the track. Unless you get terrific odds in match-up betting, maybe +200 or so, can’t recommend at all.

10. Jeff Burton – Everything has to line up well for Burton in match-up wagering before laying down money. That means great match-up NASCAR betting odds, terrific starting position, and good feeling. Usually, that never occurs.

11. Kevin Harvick – Now, here is a terrific driver with a better than decent car who could get great odds in match-up betting. Outside the top three, believe it or not, Harvick might be the best wager as he has proven to fight through adversity before and never, ever, quits on his car, his crew, or himself. Pay attention to the match-up wagers involving this driver.

12. Clint Bowyer – Rarely makes any noise and can’t recommend in any match-up situation as there doesn’t appear to be much going for him. Could get crushed by any of the eleven drivers ahead of him.

That’s the line-up for the Nextel Cup Chase! Always pay attention to history as well as reading the quotes from the drivers going up to the race in order to figure out how each driver’s car is doing. Match-up wagering on NASCAR is an art that requires an astute sports handicapping knowledge not found in other types of wagering. Keep that in mind as you place your wagers.

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Hornish to attempt Nextel Cup debut at NHIS
SCENEDAILY.COM

Penske Racing officials say Sam Hornish Jr. will drive the team's No. 06 Nextel Cup Dodge this weekend at New Hampshire International Speedway, the first of several Cup races he'll attempt this season.

Although his 2008 Cup plans have not been determined, Hornish will attempt to qualify for no more than seven events this year, including the five remaining car of tomorrow races with crew chief Roy McCauley leading the team.

Hornish, 28, is a veteran open-wheel competitor, having won three IndyCar championships and the 2006 Indianapolis 500.

This marks Hornish's first attempt in a NASCAR race at New Hampshire.

"I'm excited about my first Cup race but there is definitely a lot of pressure," Hornish said. "At this point, qualifying on Friday is our mainconcern. Hopefully we'll get it in. The COT cars are pretty good, but they'll be even better if I make it in."

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Boris Said to Drive Fourth Gillett Evernham Motorsports Entry At New Hampshire

Statesville, NC (AHN) - Veteran road-racer Boris Said will pilot a fourth Gillett Evernham Motorsports entry in this weekend's NASCAR Nextel Cup race at New Hampshire International Speedway.

Said, who has made 29 Cup starts and scored seven top-10 finishes, will try to qualify the No. 98 Dodge in what would be his first Nextel Cup start on an intermediate track since 2005.

"Fielding the No. 98 Valvoline/Stanley Tools Dodge Avenger at New Hampshire this weekend is the start of some additional research and development Gillett Evernham Motorsports will be doing with the COT heading into the 2008 season," said majority owner Ray Evernham. "This is also an excellent opportunity to get Boris (Said) some seat time at a Nextel Cup race considering all he has done for our Busch and road course programs over the last two seasons."

Said, who has driven for both Brian Simo and the Wood Brothers this season, has won a pole, a second-place finish, two top fives and led 31 laps in nine Busch starts for Evernham the last two seasons.

The California resident will have to qualify his entry on time, but if he makes the race he'll have three Gillett Evernham Motorsports teammates in Scott Riggs, Elliott Sadler and Kasey Kahne.

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Sylvania 300 PreQ    
       
We have finally reached the point in the season in which the top 12 drivers will compete for the championship. NASCAR officials changed things up a bit in the Chase for the Championship format this season making wins more valuable. This allowed Jimmie Johnson, who scored a series best six wins through the first 26 races, to assume the No. 1 spot in the point standings to start the “playoffs”. Johnson is looking pretty good right now and with the trip to New Hampshire International Speedway could be looking even better when the race is over. Johnson is the top driver on the PreQ due to his top 10 speedway average finish as well as posting five top 5s in the last six races including back-to-back wins. Johnson started off the Chase poorly last season when he finished a woeful 39th in this race. Expect him to run much better this time around as Johnson looks to repeat as champion.

Another driver that has a good chance to take home the championship this season is Tony Stewart. Like Johnson, Stewart has had a problem or two at New Hampshire as he finished in the 37th position in the first race at the track in the 2006 season although he has bounced back to finish 2nd in this race last season. Stewart has been to victory lane in New Hampshire twice in his career while averaging a 12th place finish in the last four races here. He has done even better in the last nine races posting three wins and seven top 10s. Expect Stewart to be beating on Johnson’s door at the end of the day.

Yet another Chase participant is in the top 5 on the PreQ forecast for the Sylvania 300 as Jeff Burton ranks 5th on the chart. He has not been running that great as of late with just one top 10 in the last six races but he does like New Hampshire. Burton is averaging a 7th place finish in the last four races here thanks to three consecutive 7th place finishes to go with a 9th place run. Burton has three wins since 1998 at NHIS and getting number four this weekend would do wonders for him as he attempts to capture his first career championship. The #31 AT&T Chevrolet will be a factor in this race as well as in the Chase.

The lone driver that failed to win a race this season yet make the Chase is Clint Bowyer. Many expect Bowyer to get a win before the season is over but that is unlikely to occur this weekend. He is not a big fan of NHIS with just a 29th place average finish in three career starts. Bowyer has never finished in the top 20 in any of those starts while averaging a 20th place finish on the speedways in 12 career starts. Bowyer does have the skills to be a Chase participant but he is not expected to be a contender for the championship and a porous run this weekend could essentially eliminate him already. Don’t look for much out of the #07 Jack Daniels Chevrolet.

Kasey Kahne was never a contender for a spot in the Chase this season after leading the series in wins one year ago. He never found his groove early in the season and has struggled until recently as he has recorded three straight top 10 finishes. Kahne, however, has had all sorts of problems at New Hampshire in his recent seasons averaging a 22nd place finish in the last four races. He does have four top 10s at the track in seven career starts but has posted three finishes outside the top 15 out of the last four. Kahne is still a bit of an enigma this season and we would recommend staying away from him for the remainder of the year.

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RacingOne Power Rankings
RacingOne.com

Jimmie Johnson leads this week's edition of the RacingOne Power Rankings as the series heads to New Hampshire International Speedway for the Sylvania 300 - the first race in The Chase for the NEXTEL Cup.

RacingOne ranks drivers based on last week's performance, current points ranking and who's been hot as of late.

1. Jimmie Johnson: The Chase competitors better look out because Johnson has momentum on his side. He is starting off the Chase this year on a much better note than 2006 when he went on to win the title. His back-to-back victories at California and Richmond will give him the points lead heading into Loudon.

Stat Fact: Johnson has led 379 laps in Car of Tomorrow competition.

New Hampshire Outlook: Johnson's worst finish (39th) at NHIS came in this event last year. He finished fifth in July.

2. Kurt Busch: After missing The Chase one year ago it's now Busch's turn to give Penske a shot at the title.

Stat Fact: Busch is riding a streak of nine consecutive top-11 finishes on the season.

New Hampshire Outlook: Busch has yet to post a top-10 finish in three starts at NHIS with Penske Racing.

3. Tony Stewart: Stewart's drive for a possible last NEXTEL Cup championship with Chevrolet starts on Sunday.

Stat Fact: Stewart has completed the most quality passes (passing a car running in the top 15 while under a green flag) at New Hampshire in the last five races with 160.

New Hampshire Outlook: Stewart has one win and two runner-up finishes in his last five starts at NHIS.

4. Jeff Gordon: Gordon will begin the "Drive for Five" this weekend by making his 500th career NEXTEL Cup Start.

Stat Fact: Gordon enjoys a two-race lead over Tony Stewart (7-5) in the overall Wix Filters lap leader standings.

New Hampshire Outlook: Gordon has finished third and second, respectively in his last two starts at NHIS.

5. Denny Hamlin: Hamlin better watch out because he'll be in New Hampshire, which means Kevin Harvck might be planning to place another lobster in his motor coach toilet.

Stat Fact: Hamlin still leads all drivers with 629 laps led with the Car of Tomorrow.

New Hampshire Outlook: Hamlin has a stellar 3.7 average finish in three starts at NHIS.

6. Martin Truex Jr.: Truex Jr. can officially now take the title as the lead driver at Dale Earnhardt Inc.

Stat Fact: Truex has led 263 laps with the Car of Tomorrow.

New Hampshire Outlook: Truex Jr. is coming off his first top 10 at NHIS after leading 46 laps en route to a third-place finish.

7. Kyle Busch: Busch is probably still scratching his head on what went wrong at Richmond.

Stat Fact: Busch has spent 5,180 laps in the top 15 in 2007.

New Hampshire Outlook: Busch has two top 10s at in five starts at NHIS, which includes a win in the 2006 July race.

8. Kevin Harvick: Harvick might want to consider selling the sponsorship of the No. 29's splitter to John Deere after his run through the grass at Richmond. Who would of thought that a little grass could throw some drama in there, at least for a little bit.

Stat Fact: Harvick has a 15.7 average finish in 2007.

New Hampshire Outlook: Harvick won this event last year and has finished in the top 10 in his last four starts at NHIS.

9. Carl Edwards: Edwards probably thought for a second at Richmond that he was driving for Dale Earnhardt Inc. when the No. 99’s engine went kaboom.

Stat Fact: Edwards' 42nd-place finish at Richmond equaled his worst of the season.

New Hampshire Outlook: Edwards has an average finish of 14.0 in six starts at NHIS.

10. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: The bad news is Earnhardt Jr. is not in The Chase. The good news is Elvis won’t be on his car this weekend. Just like his engines as of late, the King is dead.

Stat Fact: Earnhardt Jr. led 64 laps at New Hampshire in July.

New Hampshire Outlook: Earnhardt Jr. has finished in the top 10 in four of his last six races at NHIS.

11. Bobby Labonte: Labonte made his 500th career start at Richmond and continues to have good runs since crew chief Doug Randolph joined the Cheerios Team.

Stat Fact: Labonte has an 11.0 average finish in his last four races.

New Hampshire Outlook: Labonte has yet to post a top-10 finish in three starts at NHIS with Petty Enterprises.

12. Matt Kenseth: Kenseth says Roush still needs to get a little better with the COT. Well they better hurry, The Chase starts Sunday.

Stat Fact: Kenseth has led 35 laps with the Car of Tomorrow.

New Hampshire Outlook: Kenseth has finished 10th or better in nine of his last 10 starts at NHIS.

13. Clint Bowyer: Bowyer has to be sick of being reminded that he's the only driver in The Chase without a victory. Maybe that will change this weekend.

Stat Fact: Bowyer led 23 laps in his first NEXTEL Cup start at New Hampshire in 2006, which is the only time he has led at the track.

New Hampshire Outlook: Loudon is Bowyer's worst non-restrictor plate track on the circuit based on finishing average.

14. Ryan Newman: You won't see Newman at an Atlanta Falcons game soon. Over the weekend at Richmond, Krissie Newman was seen wearing a t-shirt that said the words, "We're Not the Animals: Neuter Vick."

Stat Fact: Newman is the best performing Dodge in Car of Tomorrow competition with a 14.9 average finish.

New Hampshire Outlook: Newman leads all drivers with four poles at New Hampshire. He also has two wins in the September event.

15. David Ragan:
Just when we were getting used to seeing Ragan spin multiple times on a short track he goes out and captures his career-best NEXTEL Cup finish.

Stat Fact: Ragan has only led one lap in 2007.

New Hampshire Outlook: Ragan finished 15th in his first career NEXTEL Cup start at NHIS in July.

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NASCAR - Nextel Cup - Sylvania 300 Preview
The Sports Network

Date: Sunday, September 16th

Start Time: 2 p.m. (et)

Site: New Hampshire International Speedway, Loudon, New Hampshire

Track: 1.058-mile oval speedway

Laps: 300

Miles: 317.4

Year: 11th

On TV: ABC 

Race record: 112.078 m.p.h. (Jeff Gordon, 1998)

Qualifying record: 133.357 m.p.h. (Ryan Newman, 2003)

2006 Finish

Defending champion: Kevin Harvick

Runner up: Tony Stewart

Pole winner: Kevin Harvick (132.282 m.p.h.)

Top 10:

1. Kevin Harvick (Start: 1)

2. Tony Stewart (32)

3. Jeff Gordon (2)

4. Denny Hamlin (5)

5. Brian Vickers (12)

6. Elliott Sadler (14)

7. Jeff Burton (22)

8. J.J. Yeley (36)

9. Dave Blaney (21)

10. Matt Kenseth (25)

Average speed: 102.195 m.p.h.

Time of race: 3 hours, 6 minutes, 21 seconds

Margin of victory: 0.777 second

Caution flags: 10 for 47 laps

Lead changes: 17 among 10 drivers

Notes

The first race in the "Chase for the Nextel Cup" gets underway this weekend in New Hampshire, as the top-12 drivers battle it out for the coveted top prize, the 2007 Nextel Cup Series Champion. There are many story lines heading into the "Chase," such as defending series champion Jimmie Johnson being the top seed, four-time series winner Jeff Gordon seeded second and two first-time participants in the Chase, Martin Truex Jr and Clint Bowyer seeking to upend the favorites.

Last year, Kevin Harvick captured the first race of the Chase, as he outdueled Tony Stewart by less than a second for his fourth win in 2006 and the ninth of his Nextel Cup career. Harvick, who's victory total now stands at 10, dominated the race, leading seven times for a race-high 196 laps after starting on the pole. Harvick reclaimed the lead on lap 217 of the 300-lap race from Dave Blaney and held on for victory. Stewart made the biggest move of the race after starting 32nd on the grid.

Ryan Newman made a late-race pass and captured the 2005 Sylvania 300 at the New Hampshire International Speedway, in the first round of the 10-race "Chase for the Nextel Cup." The No.12 Penske Racing Dodge crossed the finish line 0.292 seconds ahead of pole sitter Tony Stewart, as he recorded his 12th career Nextel Cup title. Newman led three times for a total of 66 laps, while Stewart led for a race-high 173 laps, including the first 74. Stewart held the lead as late as lap 298, however Newman passed on lap 299 and held on for his first win of 2005. With his win that year, Newman joined Jeff Gordon as the only two-time winners of this race. Newman captured the checkered flag in 2002, while Gordon won this race the first two years of its existence.

Four of the top-five seeds have won series championships, including Gordon (1995, '97-98, 2001); Tony Stewart (2002, 05); Kurt Busch (2004); and Johnson (2006). Stewart and Kurt Busch both return to the Chase field following a year's absence in 2006.

THIS AND THAT FROM NASCAR: Kurt Busch won the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire in 2004 and used that victory as a springboard to garner that season's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup championship. Busch swept both of the New Hampshire races that year. Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth are the only two drivers that have qualified for the Chase all four years. Johnson won the 2006 title. Kenseth is a former series champion (2003) and his best finish in the Chase format is second in 2006. Johnson has been in the top 12 for 24 straight weeks this season, while Gordon has led 17 races on the year, most of any driver. Tony Stewart won three races in the Chase last year, despite not being in the Chase field. The 2002 and 2005 series champion posted Chase wins at Kansas, Atlanta and Texas a year ago. Johnson and Stewart have led the most laps on the year - 863 of a possible 6,999 laps. Carl Edwards is back in the Chase after missing it last year. Edwards has come on strong the second half of this season, winning at Michigan (June 17) and Bristol (Aug. 25). Edwards' best finish in the series championship is third in 2005. Eight of the 12 Chase drivers have won at New Hampshire and seven of the top 12 are in the top 10 of the Driver Rating standings at New Hampshire. Jeff Burton leads all active drivers with four wins at New Hampshire. Currently the 10th seed in the Chase, Burton has one victory (Texas), seven top fives, and 12 top 10s in 2007.

The second event in the 2007 Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup is the Dodge Dealers 400 in Delaware on September 23rd. Jeff Burton will defend his title, while Jeff Gordon was the 2006 pole sitter.

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New Hampshire – A Vital Stop On The Way To The NASCAR Nextel Cup

Statistically speaking, when the checkered flag waves at New Hampshire International Speedway late Sunday afternoon, the championship outlook should look as tight as it does now.

Only 60 points separate 12th place from first, and figuring how well practically all the Chase drivers perform at New Hampshire, not much should change.

Not surprisingly, the best shine at New Hampshire – a vital stop on the way to the championship. In each key Loop Data statistic, Chase drivers dominate. Below are the race bests at New Hampshire since 2005. Each category is peppered with Chase competitors.

Driver Rating

Driver Date DR

1. Tony Stewart 7/05 149.2

2. Kevin Harvick 9/06 148.9

3. Tony Stewart 9/05 143.0

4. Kyle Busch 7/06 141.1

5. Ryan Newman 9/05 133.3

Average Running Position

Driver Date ARP

1. Kevin Harvick 9/06 1.5

2. Tony Stewart 7/05 2.2

3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 7/07 2.7

4. Kyle Busch 7/06 2.9

5. Tony Stewart 9/05 2.9

Fastest Laps Run

Driver Date FLR

1. Tony Stewart 7/05 80

2. Tony Stewart 9/05 71

3. Kevin Harvick 9/06 63

4. Ryan Newman 9/05 56

5. Kyle Busch 7/06 54

Quality Passes*

Driver Date QP

1. Ryan Newman 7/07 50

2. Tony Stewart 7/07 48

3. Kyle Busch 7/07 47

3. Denny Hamlin 7/06 47

3. Jimmie Johnson 7/06 47

* – Quality Passes are passes of cars in the top 15 under green.

Not surprisingly, every name bolded – Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin – has won at least one race at NHIS (Stewart and Johnson have won two).

The same holds true in combined efforts as well. In every key Loop Data statistic, a Chase driver holds the top spot and is followed by other drivers competing for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup championship. See below:

Driver Rating

Driver DR

1. Tony Stewart 116.9

2. Denny Hamlin 109.5

3. Jeff Gordon 106.4

4. Kevin Harvick 104.4

5. Ryan Newman 101.9

Average Running Position

Driver ARP

1. Jeff Gordon 7.4

2. Denny Hamlin 8.8

3. Kevin Harvick 10.2

4. Brian Vickers 10.3

5. Jeff Burton 10.7

Laps in the Top 15

Driver LT15

1. Jeff Gordon 1,321

2. Jeff Burton 1,208

3. Tony Stewart 1,200

4. Ryan Newman 1,151

5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 1,142

Fastest Laps Run

Driver FLR

1. Tony Stewart 173

2. Jeff Gordon 122

3. Kevin Harvick 91

4. Kyle Busch 86

5. Ryan Newman 85

But of the Chase drivers, Denny Hamlin has been the most consistent in his brief NHIS tenure. Hamlin, with a win there in July, is looking for the Loudon sweep. In three NHIS races, he has never finished worse than sixth, had a Driver Rating below 105.8 or an Average Running Position of under 8.7. Below are some of his numbers over his three races.

Denny Hamlin at New Hampshire

Date Finish ARP DR LT15

7/06 6 8.8 107.8 250 of 308

9/06 4 8.7 105.8 298 of 300

7/07 1 9.0 114.9 256 of 300

ARP: Avg. Running Position; DR: Driver Rating; LT15: Laps in the Top 15

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Fantasy Picks 'N' Pans : New Hampshire Edition

And then there were twelve. Now that the field for the Chase has been decided, all the questions of who will make it in and who will fall out have been answered. But plenty of questions still remain ahead, especially for fantasy team owners. Normally there are a few drivers who make the Chase that fall on hard times early, while other drivers who were left out of the Chase realize they have nothing to lose and lay it all on the line. To take your fantasy team to the next level in the next ten races, you need to be able to separate the contenders from the pretenders. So which drivers will help you gain championship glory and which ones will leave you coasting until the end of the season? Read this week’s Fantasy Picks ‘N’ Pans to find out.

Cami’s Race Rewind:


One week after winning at Richmond to solidify his position in the Chase, Kevin Harvick got a jump on the competition by dominating last year’s Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway. After winning the pole and leading almost every practice session, Harvick continued his strong performance on Sunday, leading 196 of 300 laps on way to his fourth victory of the season. Tony Stewart, who narrowly missed making the Chase, put in a strong performance coming from 32nd place to finish runner-up to Harvick. Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin and Brian Vickers rounded out the Top 5. While Harvick gained the series point lead for the first time in his career, other Chasers didn’t fare as well. Jimmie Johnson had early engine troubles and then was caught up in a chain reaction wreck on lap 80. The No. 48 team took the car to the garage and made repairs to get him back out on the track, but the result was a 39th place finish. His Hendrick teammate Kyle Busch had troubles from the opening lap when he made contact with Jeff Green, finishing the day 38th. On the non-Chase side of things, Dave Blaney enjoyed his second straight Top 10 finish, with his ninth place run.

Mike’s Keys to the Race:

Loudon is a tough track that is very hard on brakes and on engines. It is virtually flat with 12 degree banking in the turns and two degree banking on the straights. Add in the Car of Tomorrow and the teams really have to worry about cooling the breaks and making the car turn at the end of the straights. As more teams get a handle on the CoT, you’ll see the racing get more and more intense as the gap between the haves and have nots gets smaller. Expect to see the usual crowd of Hendrick and Gibbs drivers near the front, but don’t count out the Roush brigade either. After Carl Edwards ran so strong at Bristol, and was looking very good before the engine let go last weekend, he very well may make some noise at Loudon.

Mike’s Picks:

Crank ‘em up:


Matt Kenseth is the Energizer Bunny of Cup racing. He just keeps going and going and going. He isn’t the flashiest driver, he isn’t the loudest driver, but if you need a top 10 to save your life, he is hard to pick against. Expect Kenseth to start the Chase off right this year at the track where he has a 10.7 average finish and nine of his last 10 races have been top 10 finishes. Count on Kenseth to score some solid points this weekend with another top five finish.

Jeff Gordon has to be feeling a little bit ill right about now. He is walking away with the points coming into Richmond, even with a 100 point penalty this year, and now he isn’t even leading the point standings. The boys on the No. 24 have to be ready to lay the smack down this weekend. Not to mention that Gordon has won at the track before, and has finished third and second in the last two races respectively. The four time champ will be a solid contender all day on Sunday and should be near the front at the end of the day.

Sit ‘em down:

Jamie McMurray continues to struggle along in the middle of the pack, or more like the end of the pack, since his win at Daytona in July. Instead of propelling the team to new heights or a string of good finishes, it has killed their momentum and drug them back to where they were used to running. Don’t look for anything more from McMurray this weekend. Its just not his year, again.

Casey Mears has been looking stronger in some races this year, obviously including his win at Charlotte, but he still hasn’t risen to the level of the other drivers in the Hendrick stable. Add to that the fact that he has an average finish of 23.2 at Loudon, because that is where he usually finishes there and not because of a bad race or two, and you can’t expect much from him this weekend. It is best to sit Mears for the weekend and bring him back when the series gets back to a mile and a half track where he has been running better.

Roll the Dice:

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been running strong for weeks now, and just continues to be bitten by engine woes. Richmond was the latest power plant to expire and resulted in a sixth DNF for the season. Earnhardt was fourth at Loudon in the Spring and has a slightly better than average finishing average of 17.6. Now that the team is ready to go for broke, it is going to be even more of a dice roll whether Junior comes home checkers or wreckers. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many other drivers with averages above Junior who aren’t in the Chase, so you have to keep going with him.

Cami’s Picks:

Crank ‘em up:


Last year Denny Hamlin got off to a strong start in the Chase with a runner-up finish at Loudon, something he could easily duplicate this year. Hamlin is heading into the Chase fresh off his first Top 10 in three races and it doesn’t hurt that Loudon is a track that he has excelled at in the past. In three starts at the New Hampshire short track, Hamlin has three Top 10s, including a win earlier this season. The No. 20 team is normally very strong in the CoT races, adding that to his already impressive record at Loudon should equal big success for Hamlin this weekend.

At Richmond last week, everyone was waiting to see Kevin Harvick fall apart and slide right out of the Chase. In fact, just the opposite happened. Harvick scored a seventh place finish, his first Top 10 since finishing seventh at the Brickyard, and heads into the Chase with a bit more confidence. And if he remembers his dominating performance here last year, he should gain even more confidence as he goes for his first Cup championship. Racing the CoT at NHIS back in July, Harvick posted a solid eighth place finish. Look for him to put in a similar performance on Sunday.

Sit ‘em down:

Normally there is one or two drivers who slip up early in the Chase and looking at his record at New Hampshire, Clint Bowyer might be the Chase’s first victim. In three starts, Bowyer hasn’t finished than 24th at Loudon and was 37th here in July. Granted, the team was running near the Top 15 during the race before an accident on pit road ruined any chance at a good finish. He may turn in a better finish this time around, but making his first Chase start at a track he hasn’t run well at in the past could be a recipe for a poor finish this weekend.

Not that his other finishes have been much to write home about this year, but CoT races haven’t treated Reed Sorenson very well this season. In 11 CoT starts, his average finish is 27.7 with a high of 15th in two events. Obviously this team has fallen off since they got off to a promising start to the season and things don’t seem to be turning around. Since finishing fifth at Indy six races ago, he has five finishes of 21st or worse; including a 32nd place run last weekend at Richmond. Picking Sorenson wouldn’t put your fantasy on target for a good week.

Roll the Dice:

Every once in a while I really like to go out on a limb with my roll the dice picks and this might qualify for one of those weeks. But I would look for another good performance from Johnny Sauter this weekend. The CNC Haas teams have run their best at CoT races and Sauter proved that last weekend with a fifth place finish last weekend at Richmond. The No. 70 was a solid 14th in the July race at NHIS, so if you’re looking for a good sleeper pick…take a second look in Sauter’s direction.

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Matt McLaughlin's Driver Handicaps : New Hampshire Edition

Editor’s Note : Managing Editor Tom Bowles filled in with previews for drivers listed outside the Chase for the Championship.

Jimmie Johnson – The top seed in the Chase with six wins, Johnson won both NHIS Cup races in 2003 and is averaging an eleventh place finish here after eleven starts.

Jeff Gordon – Gordon has won three times at New Hampshire. He’s also finished second here three times, including his runner-up result here this summer – ironic, considering Gordon comes into the event having dropped from first to second in points. After 25 Cup races at NHIS, Gordon is averaging a twelfth place finish.

Tony Stewart – In the last five NHIS Cup races, Stewart has won once and finished second twice. He also won here back in 2000.

Carl Edwards – Edwards finished second here in 2006, but that was his only Top 10 result in the six NHIS Cup races he’s run.

Kurt Busch – Busch swept both races at NHIS in 2004, his championship season – but since then, he’s got just one Top 5 finish, with nothing better than 19th to show for his last four starts at the track.

Denny Hamlin – Hamlin won here this summer and finished fourth and sixth in last year’s two Cup NHIS events. Thus, after three starts Hamlin is averaging better than a fourth place finish.

Matt Kenseth – Kenseth has Top 10 finishes in ten of the fifteen Cup races he’s run here.

Jeff Burton – Burton has earned four of his nineteen career Cup victories right here in New Hampshire. In a statistical quirk Burton has finished seventh in the last three Cup races here.

Kyle Busch
– Busch won here last summer, but finished 38th at NHIS in the fall. He’s averaging a sixteenth place finish at the track after five career starts.

Martin Truex, Jr. – Truex had a pair of lackluster runs here last year, but did finish third in this year’s previous NHIS race.

Kevin Harvick – The defending champ of this race, Harvick knows how to get around the one-mile oval; he has a total of eight Top 10s in thirteen career starts at the track.

Clint Bowyer – In three Cup starts at NHIS, Bowyer has yet to post a finish better than 24th. Not the way to start the playoffs off right!

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – Junior comes into New Hampshire having led 64 laps in the Spring race, coming home seventh to give him seven career Top 10s in sixteen starts at the track.

Ryan Newman – With eight career Top 10s in eleven NHIS starts, this has been proven to be one of Newman’s better tracks. It’s also the sight of his last win; Newman took the checkered flag first at this Fall race here two years ago.

Greg Biffle – In his last two starts on this one-mile oval, Biffle’s average finish is a mediocre 22.5.

Casey Mears – In nine career starts at this track, Mears has yet to post anything better than a 16th place finish.

Bobby Labonte – Labonte has nine career Top 10 finishes in 25 NHIS starts, but just one of those has been recorded here since 2003.

Jamie McMurray – In his last five races, the average finish for McMurray at New Hampshire is an awful 26th place. Not exactly a shining moment in his career…

J.J. Yeley – This is one of Yeley’s better career tracks; he holds an average finish here of 19th place after four starts at the Speedway.

Juan Pablo Montoya – Montoya was 19th in his first Cup start on the NHIS oval back in July.

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Driver Handicaps: New Hampshire
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This weekend the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series heads to New Hampshire International Speedway for the Sylvania 300 - the 12th Car of Tomorrow event of the 2007 season. To help you make your Dale Jr. Reality Cup Racing fantasy picks, RacingOne brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for the 300-lap event.

Who's Hot at New Hampshire

Denny Hamlin won the event at New Hampshire in July and has led 629 laps with the Car of Tomorrow.
Jeff Gordon is the leader in top fives (11) and laps led (1,141).
Jeff Burton leads all drivers with four victories.
Kevin Harvick has one win and a 4.7 average finish in the last three races.
Two-time winner Ryan Newman has the most poles (4) among all drivers.
Jimmie Johnson has finished inside the top 15 in 10 of his 11 starts.
Tony Stewart has one win and two runner-up finishes in his last five starts.

Keep an Eye On at New Hampshire

Carl Edwards has led the most laps (244) among the Ford drivers with the COT.
Kyle Busch, who has one New Hampshire win, tested the COT at Milwaukee earlier this month.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Martin Truex Jr. led a combined 110 laps en route to top five finishes at New Hampshire in July.
Matt Kenseth has finished in the top 10 in nine of his last 10 starts at New Hampshire.
Haas CNC Racing has had some good runs on the 1-mile flat ovals with the COT.
Kurt Busch is currently riding a streak of four consecutive top 10s on the season.

COT Performers

Jeff Gordon leads all drivers in starting average (8.4) and finishing average (5.5) among the drivers that have competed in all 11 Car of Tomorrow races. Gordon's teammate Jimmie Johnson leads all drivers with three wins. Denny Hamlin has dominated the competition by winning one race (New Hampshire), leading an impressive 629 laps and posting an average finish of 8.3. Among drivers with three or more starts - Carl Edwards (Ford), Ryan Newman (Dodge) and Brian Vickers (Toyota) hold the best average finish among their manufacturers at 12.9, 14.9 and 28.4, respectively. David Gilliland has the worst average finish among all the drivers that have made every COT start at 32.3

Qualifying Tidbits

Dave Blaney is the latest pole winner at New Hampshire International Speedway. His pole speed of 129.437 mph was the first with a Car of Tomorrow at NHIS and first for Toyota overall. Last year in this event, Kevin Harvick became the third person to win from the pole at New Hampshire. Ryan Newman has won four of the last eight poles when qualifying has been contested at NHIS with his last coming in the 2006 July race. Newman's 2003 lap of 133.357 mph still stands as the track record. Jeff Gordon, who leads the 2007 Bud Pole standings, saw his last of three pole at NHIS come in 2001. Qualifying has been cancelled three times over the last 12 races due to weather. In the 25 races at NHIS, 13 have been won from within a top-10 starting position. Jeff Burton won from the furthest stating position in the July event in 1999 when he started 38th

Top 20 Driver Notes - Based on Current Standings

1. Jimmie Johnson (Points: 5060): Last September at New Hampshire International Speedway, Johnson experienced engine problems early and then got caught in a chain reaction accident on lap 80 and ended up in the wall. The team made repairs to the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet, but Johnson was credited with a 39th-place in the end, marking his first finish outside the top 15 in 11 starts. Although Johnson has yet to win a pole at NHIS, his starting average of 11.1 ranks No. 2 among all active drivers with two or more starts. Johnson, who swept both NHIS races in 2003, will pilot a new car (chassis No. 461) in Sunday's Sylvania 300.

2. Jeff Gordon (Points Behind: - 20): This weekend at New Hampshire International Speedway, Gordon will be making his 500th career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series start. He is the leader among active drivers in top fives (11) and laps led (1,141) at NHIS. Gordon's last of three victories at NHIS came from the pole on August 30, 1998. His worst finish in the last 10 Loudon races came in the 2005 July race when he suffered a late race problem when his brakes gave out less than 15 laps from the checkered flag. After running in the top 10 most of the day, Gordon was credited with a 25th-place finish. Gordon, who has the best average finish among all drivers in the 11 Car of Tomorrow races, led 37 en route to a second-place finish in July.

3. Tony Stewart (Points Behind: - 30): In 17 starts at New Hampshire International Speedway, Stewart has two wins (most recently in the 2005 July event), nine top five and 10 top-10 finishes. Stewart, who has led in eight races for 764 laps, led a combined total of 388 laps in the two races he won. His worst finish in the last five races came in the 2006 July event when he finished 37th after a tangle with pole-sitter Ryan Newman early in the race. Stewart, who ranks third in Car of Tomorrow laps led with 454, will be driving the same chassis (No. 161) that finished seventh at Martinsville in April.

4. Carl Edwards (Points Behind: - 40): Edwards scored his only top-10 finish at New Hampshire International Speedway in the July event last year, finishing second. He could be looking at his second top 10 based on his Car of Tomorrow statistics. In the 11 COT races so far, Edwards has the best average finish among the Ford drivers, at 12.9, and has led 244 laps. He will also be racing the same car (chassis No. RK-453) that finished 13th after a pit road mishap. Edwards also won the Busch in the 2006 July race after leading 58 laps. Along with two runner-up finishes in the Busch Series, Edwards also finished second to Jimmy Spencer in his first Craftsman Truck Series race at NHIS in 2003.

5. Kurt Busch (Points Behind: - 40): In 2004 Busch swept both races at New Hampshire International Speedway after leading a combined 265 laps. The following year he finished second in the July race for his fifth top 10 in 13 starts at the track. Since then, Busch has posted an average finish of 28.3, including respective finishes of 38th, 19th and 21st in his first three track starts with Penske Racing. Busch will debut chassis PSC-524 in Sunday's Sylvania 300.

6. Denny Hamlin (Points Behind: - 50): Hamlin leads all drivers with a 3.7 average finish at New Hampshire International Speedway. Hamlin won his first Car of Tomorrow race of 2007 at NHIS in July after leading 46 laps. His laps led in the event contributed to his series leading total of 629 with the COT. This weekend Hamlin will return in his New Hampshire winning car (chassis No. 162) in the Sylvania 300. This will be the third start for the car and it also had a successful outing at Martinsville where it led 125 laps en route to a third-place finish.

7. Martin Truex Jr. (Points Behind: - 50): Truex Jr's best finish in three starts at New Hampshire International Speedway came this past July. He led 46 laps before finishing third to mark his first top 10 at the track.

8. Matt Kenseth (Points Behind: - 50): Kenseth holds the best average finish (10.9) among all drivers that have made more than three starts at New Hampshire International Speedway. His finishing average is bolstered by 10 consecutive finishes of 14th or better. Kenseth, who has led 88 laps at NHIS, will return in the same car (chassis No. RK-451) that finished ninth at Loudon in July.

9. Kyle Busch (Points Behind: - 50): Busch won the 2006 July race at New Hampshire International Speedway after leading 107 laps from the fourth starting position. It marked his second top-10 finish in five starts at the track. Busch's finishing average is hindered by two finishes of 27th and 38th in the fall race after coming together with two separate drivers in each incident. In 2005, Busch tangled with Kasey Kahne on the race track and then in 2006 he made contact with Jeff Green on the opening lap, cutting a tire that damaged his Kellogg's Chevrolet. This weekend Busch will be driving a new chassis (No. 464) that was tested at Milwaukee earlier this month.

10. Jeff Burton (Points Behind: - 50): On no other track has Jeff Burton scored more victories than New Hampshire International Speedway. He has claimed four victories at the "Magic Mile", one each year beginning in 1997. His last win there was on September 17, 2000, and he started second and went on to lead all 300 laps of the race. In his third win at the track, Burton won from the furthest back of any NHIS winner after he started 38th and led for only two laps. The track is sentimental as well for one other reason, as it was the site of his NEXTEL Cup debut at this event in 1993. He has started in every race at the track since, with a total of seven top fives, 12 top 10s and has led a total of 694 laps in 10 races. This weekend he will shoot for his fifth consecutive top 10 at NHIS driving a brand new car (chassis No. 204).

11. Kevin Harvick (Points Behind: - 50): This weekend Harvick will be seeking his fifth consecutive top-10 finish at New Hampshire International Speedway. Last September, he captured his seventh of eight top 10s with his first win in 12 starts at the track. He led 196 of his track total 264 laps in that event. On Sunday Harvick will be driving the same car (chassis No. 190) that finished seventh last weekend at Richmond.

12. Clint Bowyer (Points Behind: - 60): New Hampshire International Speedway is Bowyer's worst non-restrictor plate track on the schedule based on his finishing average of 29.3. He will look to change that stat by driving the same car (chassis No. 212) that finished 12th last weekend at Richmond.

13. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Points Behind: - 895): Earnhardt Jr. picked up his best finish since 2004 at New Hampshire International Speedway with a fourth-place finish in July. The finished marked his seventh top 10 in 16 starts and it came after leading a race-high 64 laps. In the 2006 July event, Earnhardt Jr. posted his third DNF (finished 43rd) at NHIS after losing an engine. He started 25th in that race and spent 80 laps in the top 15 before the problem struck, and the result ended a streak of three consecutive top 10s.

14. Ryan Newman (Points Behind: - 959): New Hampshire International Speedway is the site of Newman's first career NEXTEL Cup victory. The win came after he won his first of his series leading four poles at the "Magic Mile" in the 2002 fall event. His second victory came again in the fall race, in 2005, after leading 66 laps from the 13th starting position. Newman has led in all but one of his 11 Loudon starts for a total of 518 laps. In September 2004, Newman lost the engine in the Alltel Dodge while leading, relegating him to a 33rd-place finish, his only DNF at NHIS. This weekend, Newman will debut a new car (chassis No. PRS-509) that was tested at Lowe's Motor Speedway in May.

15. Greg Biffle (Points Behind: - 1129): Biffle has four top-10 finishes and five finishes of 27th or worse, including two DNFs, in 10 starts at New Hampshire International Speedway. Biffle turned his New Hampshire record around with three consecutive top fives up until the last two races when he finished 14th and 31st, respectively. This weekend Biffle will be driving a new car (chassis No. RK-476) that was tested at Milwaukee.

16. Casey Mears (Points Behind: - 1151): Mears finished 23rd in his first start with Hendrick Motorsports in July at New Hampshire International Speedway. He will be racing the same car (chassis No. 440) in Sunday's race that competed on the road courses this season. Mears has yet to crack the top 10 in nine career starts at NHIS, with the first eight coming with Chip Ganassi Racing.

17. Bobby Labonte (Points Behind: - 1193): Labonte has started in every race at New Hampshire International Speedway posting nine top 10s - his last (third) coming in the July event in 2005. His best finish at NHIS was a second-place result on September 17, 2000, after he started on the pole for the only time at the track. Labonte has led 62 laps in eight races, with the last time in the 2001 fall event. In three starts at the track with Petty Enterprises. Labonte has posted an average finish of 27.0.

18. Jamie McMurray (Points Behind: - 1314): The Car of Tomorrow helped McMurray lower his finishing average from 31.0 to 26.0 in his three races at New Hampshire International Speedway with Roush Fenway Racing. His previous six starts came with Chip Ganassi Racing, where he posted three top-10 finishes. In the 2005 July event, McMurray posted his second DNF after crashing out of the race early. The incident, which was brought on by Matt Kenseth, relegated McMurray to a 40th-place finish. This weekend McMurray will race a new car (chassis No. RK-462) that was tested at Richmond in April.

19. J.J. Yeley (Points Behind: - 1343): Yeley had a successful rookie season at New Hampshire International Speedway in 2006 posting respective finishes of 12th and eighth. He finished 22nd in July at NHIS, which is near his 11-race COT finishing average of 21.2. Yeley, who will also race in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and USAC Silver Crown races this weekend, will be driving a new car (No. 186) in the Sylvania 300.

20. Juan Pablo Montoya (Points Behind: - 1370): Montoya will make his second start at New Hampshire International Speedway driving the same car (chassis No. 735) that posted a combined average finish of 24.5 in its starts at Martinsville and Phoenix this year.

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A Flat-Out Chase

The flat tracks are not for everyone, especially when the short variety is run in the Car of Tomorrow (COT). The NASCAR Nextel Cup Series drivers have been racing in the new ride for 11 events now, three of which were on the short, flat tracks of Phoenix International Raceway, Martinsville Speedway, and the first race at New Hampshire in July. However, some teams are still working on getting the handle of the COT, especially on the smaller tracks.

There have only been four drivers who have swept the top-10 on the short, flat tracks this year. These are Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth. When it comes to the COT, everyone has taken at least one wrong turn in the new ride.

What fantasy owners will want to note is that while Hendrick Motorsports still has the top two drivers in the COT, there are several teams that have caught up to them. That will make for some interesting picks for this week's rosters.

Favorites
This week, everything is about the Chase. The favorites are not just the drivers in the playoffs who have been good on the flat tracks for their careers, but the ones who have mastered these speedways in the COT. That helps narrow the field from several strong candidates to a select few.

Denny Hamlin had a 22nd at the big flat track of Indianapolis Motor Speedway last month, snapping an 11-race top-10 streak on those tracks. Then he made up for it with a third at Pocono Raceway and got him back into form. Things are looking even better for him this weekend as his last victory came at New Hampshire, which gives him a worst of third on the short flat tracks in the COT. Moreover, he has not been lower than fourth on those speedways in a year.

Jimmie Johnson has screamed into the top spot in the Chase with his two wins in the last two races. What makes him an even more decisive pick for Sunday are his results on the small low-banked speedways this year. In the three races on the shorter flat tracks in 2007, he has a win at Martinsville, a fourth at Phoenix and a fifth at Loudon just two months ago.

Now that he's settled his issues with Fate, Jeff Gordon is once more a good value. After suffering through his first slump of the season—three straight finishes of 19th or worse—he scored a fourth at Richmond International Raceway. The best part is that he not only finished well, but he ran at the head of the pack all night. It is hard to say if he has gotten over the hump. However, New Hampshire is a great place for him to regain his momentum. He has been second and third in the last two events there, and dating back to this race last year, he's swept the top five in six attempts.

Sleepers
Ryan Newman has not won in two years. The good thing about this weekend is that the last time he got a win was in the 2005 Sylvania 300. He has been good in the COT so far this year, earning two top-fives, five top-10s and eight consecutive top-20s in his Avenger. Newman is a great flat track driver, which improves his odds even more this weekend.

Like Gordon, Kevin Harvick snapped a frustrating streak last week in time for the Chase. He should get off to another strong finish this year, after winning the first playoff race last fall on this same track. On the short, flat tracks Harvick was perfect in regards to top-10s last year, with an average finish of fourth in six events. He would be perfect so far in 2007 as well, if not for a freak fire in his COT at Martinsville back at the start of the season.

Avoidance Principal
Kyle Busch had a true momentum killer when he struggled at Richmond. He had never finished outside the top-five there before and to have struggled like he did must have taken a lot of wind out of his sails. Not that it was entirely surprising. After hammering down a win and four consecutive top-10s in the COT, he has had only three top-10s and no top-fives in the last seven events in the Impala and is a big part of the reason why the other teams are catching up to Hendrick Motorsports in this body style.

Clint Bowyer looked like he was a solid flat track driver when he grabbed a fifth at Phoenix in the spring of his rookie year. Since then, he has earned only one top-20 on the short, flat tracks. He has struggled on the flat tracks in the COT this year, having earned an 11th at Martinsville, a 22nd at Phoenix and a 37th at New Hampshire. He has just one top-10 in the last five races, and this is not the place for him to get the momentum back. Now that he is in the Chase, the emotional letdown will hurt his odds until he proves capable of overcoming the malaise.

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Sylvania 300 HOT! Sheet    
       
When considering setting your fantasy roster this weekend, picking one of the Chase contenders is the easy thing to do. So how about those going just for the win? One of the best bets is at the top of our sheet, Kasey Kahne. The former Chaser had what was a forgettable season going through the first 23 races. He had only two top 10s in that timeframe, one coming at the Daytona 500 and the other in the night race at Daytona. However, things have turned back towards the positive in the last 3 events. He had the pole and finished 2nd at Bristol and then followed that up with back-to-back top 10s. Look for the momentum to continue this weekend.

As for those in the running for the title, you can’t go wrong with the man on top of the points report, Jimmie Johnson. His consecutive victories the last two weeks vaulted him to the top of the wins list (6) leaving him 20 points ahead going in to the Chase. Both victories came with very strong performances both at Richmond, where he had the pole, and at California where he had the outside pole. An unprecedented second straight championship looks to be on the horizon.

A man that will definitely have a say in that is Tony Stewart. As you can see on our chart below, he is one of the hottest commodities over the last 6 races with an average finish of exactly 6th place, and that span came right after his two straight wins at Chicago and Indianapolis. More recently he drove through the field at Bristol and went from 23rd to 4th. Last week he ran up front the entire race and wound up 2nd. He is a 2-time winner at New Hampshire and we won’t be surprised if he makes a 3rd trip to victory lane on Sunday.

At the other end of the spectrum this week is Jamie McMurray. The #26 team has struggled to find the handle on consistency this season. At times they’ve looked really good, like when they had the pole at Infineon and then two races later they won at Daytona. But ever since then it’s been a hard fight as they’ve finished on the lead lap only twice in the last 8 races. They’re coming off of an accident that sent them home with a DNF for the 3rd time this year. Last year in this race he was scored 2 laps down at the end. We can’t recommend the risk of taking him.

Also winding up prone to accident several times this season has been Juan Pablo Montoya. As our sheet shows the highly touted rookie has an average finish of about 30th over the last 3 races. At Bristol he quickly faded from an outside pole starting position all the way back to 17th. The following week the team ended up being scored 3 laps behind the leaders in 33rd. Then came the wreck that took him out just over halfway through the night race at Richmond. His inexperience has really shown for most of the season and until he shakes the rookie blues, we’d stay away.

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NASCAR NNCS (LOUDON) - IN THE LOOP

Cream Rises At NHIS

Statistically speaking, when the checkered flag waves at New Hampshire International Speedway late Sunday afternoon, the championship outlook should look as tight as it does now.

Only 60 points separate 12th place from first, and figuring how well practically all the Chase drivers perform at New Hampshire, not much should change.

Not surprisingly, the best shine at New Hampshire – a vital stop on the way to the championship. In each key Loop Data statistic, Chase drivers dominate. Below are the race bests at New Hampshire since 2005. Each category is peppered with Chase competitors (Chase drivers in bold):

Driver Rating Driver Date DR 1. Tony Stewart 7/05 149.2 2. Kevin Harvick 9/06 148.9 3. Tony Stewart 9/05 143.0 4. Kyle Busch 7/06 141.1 5. Ryan Newman 9/05 133.3

Average Running Position Driver Date ARP 1. Kevin Harvick 9/06 1.5 2. Tony Stewart 7/05 2.2 3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 7/07 2.7 4. Kyle Busch 7/06 2.9 5. Tony Stewart 9/05 2.9

Fastest Laps Run Driver Date FLR 1. Tony Stewart 7/05 80 2. Tony Stewart 9/05 71 3. Kevin Harvick 9/06 63 4. Ryan Newman 9/05 56 5. Kyle Busch 7/06 54

Quality Passes* Driver Date QP 1. Ryan Newman 7/07 50 2. Tony Stewart 7/07 48 3. Kyle Busch 7/07 47 3. Denny Hamlin 7/06 47 3. Jimmie Johnson 7/06 47

* – Quality Passes are passes of cars in the top 15 under green.

Not surprisingly, every name bolded – Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin – has won at least one race at NHIS (Stewart and Johnson have won two).

The same holds true in combined efforts as well. In every key Loop Data statistic, a Chase driver holds the top spot and is followed by other drivers competing for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup championship. See below:

Driver Rating Driver DR 1. Tony Stewart 116.9 2. Denny Hamlin 109.5 3. Jeff Gordon 106.4 4. Kevin Harvick 104.4 5. Ryan Newman 101.9

Average Running Position Driver ARP 1. Jeff Gordon 7.4 2. Denny Hamlin 8.8 3. Kevin Harvick 10.2 4. Brian Vickers 10.3 5. Jeff Burton 10.7

Laps in the Top 15 Driver LT15 1. Jeff Gordon 1,321 2. Jeff Burton 1,208 3. Tony Stewart 1,200 4. Ryan Newman 1,151 5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 1,142

Fastest Laps Run Driver FLR 1. Tony Stewart 173 2. Jeff Gordon 122 3. Kevin Harvick 91 4. Kyle Busch 86 5. Ryan Newman 85

But of the Chase drivers, Denny Hamlin has been the most consistent in his brief NHIS tenure. Hamlin, with a win there in July, is looking for the Loudon sweep. In three NHIS races, he has never finished worse than sixth, had a Driver Rating below 105.8 or an Average Running Position of under 8.7. Below are some of his numbers over his three races.

Denny Hamlin at New Hampshire Date Finish ARP DR LT15 7/06 6 8.8 107.8 250 of 308 9/06 4 8.7 105.8 298 of 300 7/07 1 9.0 114.9 256 of 300 ARP: Avg. Running Position; DR: Driver Rating; LT15: Laps in the Top 15

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NASCAR Nextel Cup Series: Sylvania 300 Picks
by Christopher G. Shepard - 09/14/2007


Gamblers start your engines because the Chase for the Nextel Cup championship begins this Sunday at New Hampshire National Speedway as the Sylvania 300 at Loudon kicks off NASCAR's first of 10 weekend playoffs.

Nothing makes 317 miles of left turns more exciting than laying a few jellybeans on your favorite driver to win, finish the race in the top three places, or win in their Speed Row category. Luckily for us we have Sportsbook.com providing gamblers with an online betting experience where they can find action on all three "futures."

The field was finalized last weekend at Richmond for the 12-driver Chase and white-hot Jimmie Johnson will try to win consecutive titles for the first time since Jeff Gordon did it in 1997-1998. Johnson comes to New Hampshire on the heels of two consecutive wins at California and Richmond last weekend for his sixth series win this season.

Who will win the Sylvania 300?

Bad turns and all, whether you love it or hate it, Loudon is a great place to kick of the Chase and, with the amazing weather in New England, there is no better place on earth to be this Sunday.

Johnson in the Lowes 48 car is likely to face his toughest competition from his own Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon. Gordon has had an amazing season winning four races and finishing in the Top 10 in all but five races this year.

The two drivers I am vesting my v-chips in are Denny Hamlin (9/5) and Kurt Busch (7/2). These guys love Loudon. Both drivers do some of their best driving at Loudon and Busch has really owned NASCAR recently with five Top 10 finishes and two wins in the last seven races while Hamlin won here in July and is racing on one of his favorite tracks, which bodes well for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Speed Row Wagers

Another alternative to picking the winner of the race is to check into Speed Row betting. It's probably the easiest to follow since you'll end up following five racers rather than the entire field. In this future bet you are picking the driver that will finish highest in the race over the other four drivers in the Speed Row grouping.

Speed Row 1

Speed Row 1 features Dale Earnhardt Jr (11/2), who suffered from three blown motors in his last seven starts this year but can race easy now that he has been eliminated from the Chase. Two-time series champion Tony Stewart (13/4), returns to the Chase after missing last year and is favored to win. The last time Denny Hamlin (3/1) won a race was July 1 in New Hampshire while last year Jimmie Johnson (11/4) finished 39th at Loudon. Teammate Jeff Gordon (5/2) needs a good showing after blowing the lead with two laps to go on Aug. 12.

Pick! FedEX Freight Car and Denny Hamlin (3/1)

Speed Row 2

Carl Edwards is set at 3/1. Last year's champion, Kevin Harvick, is 7/2 while Kurt Busch is 7/2 and Kyle Busch is set at 11/4. Speed demon Martin Treux Jr. and heir apparent to DEI is set at 7/2. While there is no clear-cut way to gauge which driver will best the other, my initial lean is to the drivers in the Chase over the other guys. Get the joke? They're all in the chase. With a gun to my head I'd bet on the resurgent Kurt Busch who has the uncanny ability to win almost any race in which he starts. Especially at Loudon where he runs extremely well.

Pick! Lite Beer from Miller Car and Kurt Busch (7/2)

NASCAR - SYLVANIA 300 - Odds to Finish in the Top 3

Another offering from Sportsbook.com for the inaugural Chase race is the driver who will finish in the top three. Much like a horse race you don't have to be right about the winner you just have to predict if he will finish in the top three places.

There are your obvious choices of Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart, but those three are hardly worth the effort it takes to bet since the payoff is paltry at best. I like Kurt Busch at 7/2 since he has historically run well at Loudon and offers the most value on this "future" play.

Pick! Lite Beer from Miller Car and Kurt Busch

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