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Sylvania 300 News and Notes

Re: Sylvania 300 News and Notes

Friday Practice: for the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway is over, the fastest:

#48-Johnson 129.410
#07-Bowyer 129.143
#2-Busch 128.928
#41-Sorenson 128.841
#12-Newman 128.710
slowest: #7-Gordon 125.707 & #37-Lepage 125.257
most laps run: #01-Smith, 51 laps
incidents: #99-Edwards wrecked in turn 3 an hour into the session and will have to go to a backup

Best average speed [all laps averaged]

(from's leaderboard service)
#00-Reutimann 127.602 [13th fastest lap], 17 laps
#22-Blaney 127.495 [14th], 21 laps run
#49-Andretti 126.960 [16th], 15 laps

Bad news for Edwards who had the car to beat in July and was the same car he brought for this race.


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Re: Sylvania 300 News and Notes

Bowyer edges Truex Jr. for pole in first Chase race
September 14th, 2007

Loudon, NH (Sports Network) - Clint Bowyer won the pole for the opening round of the 10-race "Chase for the Nextel Cup" at the New Hampshire International Speedway. The No.07 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet driver will start out front for Sunday's Sylvania 300 after posting a best lap of 29.206 seconds (130.412 m.p.h.) around the 1.058-mile oval.

It was his second pole victory of the season and second of his Cup career. He also won the pole at Darlington in May. Both poles were in races where the COT was used.

"I wasn't a big fan of these things (Car of Tomorrow) starting out, but I'm becoming a fan," said Bowyer. "Our track record is pretty good with this car and it's going to be a big part of the Chase."

Starting alongside Bowyer will be Martin Truex Jr., who put up a time of 29.241 seconds.

"The car was really, really good in race trim, better than the car we had before," said Truex Jr., who finished third in the July race at NHIS.

Kurt Busch (29.296) and series points leader and defending series champion Jimmie Johnson (29.344) will start in row two. All four drivers in the first two rows are "Chase" drivers.

There are 12 drivers in the "Chase" and all 12 could realistically be champion.

Johnson, who finished the regular season in fourth place, will begin the 10- race "Chase" with the most points by virtue of his series-leading six victories. The defending series champion started the season strong, slumped a bit in the summer, but has returned to form with two consecutive wins at California and Richmond. He appears ready in every phase of the game.

"It's a great feeling to be able to go into the Chase leading the points," said Johnson. "That's something you obviously want to do, not only from the points standpoint, but from a psychological standpoint it's a benefit for sure."

Johnson's Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon, the four-time series champion, will start with the second-most points - 20 less than the No.48 Chevrolet team. Gordon, starting 18th, has led the series for 21 of 26 weeks and his 21 top-10s are by far the best in Nextel Cup.

Two-time series champion Tony Stewart will start with 30 points fewer than Johnson, but that shouldn't matter if Stewart continues to run as he has for most of the summer and into the fall. The No.20 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet driver began the season with a 43rd-place finish in Daytona and didn't get his first win until July, but since that point he has been a force to be reckoned with. Since the race in Chicagoland, Stewart has earned three wins among seven top-10s in eight races. He will start sixth on the grid.

Carl Edwards (starting 11th) and Busch will begin the "Chase" 40 points behind Johnson, but both drivers have the ability and the teams behind them to win it all. Edwards and his No.99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford team have come on strong winning twice since mid-June. Busch was in danger of not making the "Chase" at all before the team came together in June. While others saw their chances melt away in the summer heat, Busch has not finished worse than 11th in a race in two months. Included in that streak are wins at Pocono and Michigan.

There are six drivers who will start 50 points behind the leader. Denny Hamlin (starting 14th), Truex Jr., 2003 Nextel Cup champion Matt Kenseth (30th), Kyle Busch (12th), Jeff Burton (23rd) and 2007 Daytona 500 winner Kevin Harvick (eighth). All six could win the title if things break their way. Hamlin, Stewart's teammate at JGR, has been the most consistent with one win, 10 top-fives and 15 top-10s.

Even Bowyer, the only driver in the "Chase" without a win, has the team, talent and speed to win it all. Bowyer will have two teammates in the "Chase" with him in Burton and Harvick which should help all three challenge for the championship.

The green flag is set to drop on Sunday at 2 p.m. (et).

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Re: Sylvania 300 News and Notes

Nextel Cup practice canceled because of rain

LOUDON, N.H. - The Chase likely will start as scheduled Sunday, but the teams will be a little less prepared.

Rain washed out both practice sessions Saturday at New Hampshire International Speedway, leaving the drivers to start the Sylvania 300 on Sunday with no track time since qualifying Friday afternoon.

The National Weather Service predicts sunny but cool temperatures Sunday with a high of 66 degrees and a low of 33.

The race is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. EDT

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Re: Sylvania 300 News and Notes

Green Flag: Sylvania 300

Chase contenders have dominated victory lane at New Hampshire International Speedway in the first race of the playoffs. For that matter, they have also been perfect at Dover International Speedway—the venue for next week's race—and with five of their number on the first three rows, there is a good chance the streak will continue.

The AOL game is setup to require you to take drivers in less powerful equipment from the bottom tiers, however, and that forces fantasy owners to look beyond the top 12. Tiers one and two are likely to be dominated by drivers competing for the Cup, but there are some strong values in three and four as well. The short, flat tracks of New Hampshire, Phoenix International Raceway and Martinsville Speedway are usually kind to dark horses.

Tier One
There are three drivers who have been perfect on the short, flat tracks this year and once you have identified them, there is no reason to look any further at this level. Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, and Jimmie Johnson each have a five- or six-race top-five streak to their credit, stretching back to this race last year.

Johnson finished 39th in last year's Sylvania 300, but that was after he sustained crash damage and it's hard to hold against him. He came back to win at Martinsville, Gordon won at Phoenix and Hamlin took the first New Hampshire race. Between them, these three drivers have an average finish of 2.4 on these three tracks in 2007, which literally means they have been each other's only competition.

As of the writing of this article, rain threatens to wash out Saturday's activities, or at least seriously curtail the practice sessions. If that happens, the Sylvania 300 with in effect become an impound race and fantasy owners are still stinging from the effect of last week's procedures on Kyle Busch. With stellar options open in the tier, that is enough to wave a red flag over the Young Gun.

Tier Two
Clint Bowyer is perhaps the most well-balanced driver in the garage. He never seems harried by his circumstances and is always upbeat no matter the circumstances. He is not worried that he failed to win a race during the regular season and is seeded last in the playoffs. He just wants the media to stop talking about it. The best way to do that is to go out and win the first championship race, and he's got enough momentum to do that.

Both of his teammates should also be considered this week. Jeff Burton was once the class of the field on the short, flat tracks, and even though the top-fives are coming with slightly less regularity, he has seven top-15s on these three courses in his last eight attempts.

Kevin Harvick won twice at Phoenix last year and took this edition of New Hampshire in the fall. If not for a freak fire in his Chevy at Martinsville in the spring, he would have a perfect top-10 record dating back to the start of last year on the short, flat tracks. He got his bad luck behind him last week at Richmond International Raceway and is a great value once more.

Last week, Greg Biffle complained he was racing with the donkeys when he was swept up in a crash that another driver started. Of course, he qualified badly enough to deserve to be amongst the braying herd and he hasn't earned an oval track top-five of his own since week five at Bristol Motor Speedway. For that matter, the top-10s haven't come with much regularity either.

Tier Three
The Gene Haas teammates Jeff Green and Johnny Sauter have been stout on the Car of Tomorrow (COT) tracks—particularly the flattened versions. Neither of them performed particularly well at Martinsville, but when both drivers recorded top-10s at Phoenix, it was time to stand up and take notice. At New Hampshire in July, Green earned a second consecutive sixth-place finish while Sauter finished 14th after recording a ninth at Phoenix. If those same setups work this week, these drivers will be the most pleasant surprise of the race again.

It's hard to know what Brian Vickers will do this week. On the one hand, he's been very strong when he makes races, but qualifying is something he's failed to do in every short, flat track event this year. Last year, in his Hendrick Motorsports ride, he was consistently 17th or better, but the Toyota does not behave like the Chevy and fantasy owners might be best served observing him this week instead of starting him.

Tier Four
There is a paucity of promise in Tier Four, but Paul Menard certainly put his best pedal extremity forward in qualification and its practice period. He held onto the provisional pole for while and then slipped back further in the pack, but since he is staying at Dale Earnhardt, Inc. (DEI) next year, he probably has one of the engines under his hood that has not been sabotaged by the wicked stepmother. At Phoenix this year, he finished 25th, which wouldn't be encouraging in any of the other tiers, but might get the job done here.

A.J. Allmendinger has been coming on lately. He seems to take qualifying by spells—making several races in a row and then failing to qualify for several. For the moment, however, he's not only making races, but running fairly strong. His last two races have been the most encouraging. Two weeks ago at California Speedway, he recorded a career-best 18th. Last week, his result wasn't quite as good, but he finished on the lead lap for the first time in his career and recorded a respectable 23rd.

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Re: Sylvania 300 News and Notes

Sylvania 300 PostQ    
With the Chase for the Championship under way this may be the biggest race of the season for the championship participants. A poor start to the final 10 events could essentially eliminate a driver from contention. Tony Stewart is looking good early as he ranks as the No. 1 driver on the PostQ forecast thanks in large part to his No. 1 ranking in the Driver Rating category. Stewart is only averaging an 11th place finish in the last five races at New Hampshire International Speedway but he has led an astounding 28% of the laps in those events. That is twice as many as the next nearest competitor although he does not have the finishes to show for it. Stewart is expected to be one of the few that will contend for the championship this season. Expect a solid performance from the #20 Home Depot Chevrolet crew.

Jimmie Johnson may still be the driver to beat this weekend as he looks to have one of the best cars at the track. Johnson dropped one spot from the PreQ forecast to the PostQ forecast as he ranks just 10th in the Driver Rating category. He looks to be much better than 10th this week as he posted the 4th quickest time in qualifying while running even better in the lone practice session ranking 2nd overall on the Speed chart. Johnson has three top 10s in the last four races at NHIS but look for a much better day out of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet this weekend.

The first of the non-Chase racers on the PostQ forecast is Ryan Newman. Newman has had his moments this season posting 10 top 10s on the year so far. It is still a far cry from how well he performed between the 2002-2005 seasons but Newman still has the ability to make it to victory lane. It has been exactly two years since he has been in victory lane as his last win came at this track in the 2005 season. Newman would love nothing more than to bring his #13 Alltel Dodge to victory lane under the auspices of the Chase. He should be a contender for the win even if he is not a contender for the title.

The one Chase participant that does not rank in the top 20 on the PostQ forecast is Matt Kenseth. Kenseth should be able to move into the top 20 – if not the top 20 – by the end of the day but the team looks like it is struggling some as the Chase begins. He is averaging just a 20th place finish over the last three races while qualifying just 30th at NHIS. He was even lower on the Speed chart ranking in the 38th position. That was slower than David Gilliland and Kenny Wallace. Kenseth may be in for a long day at NHIS and is a driver that gets the buyer beware label for the week.

At one point this season Jamie McMurray looked like he would be a participant in the Chase after posting his first win with his #26 Crown Royal Ford team at Daytona. Things quickly went downhill for McMurray, however, as he failed to finish in the top 25 in the next five races. Since that win McMurray has posted just one finish in the top 20 while dropping all the way to 18th in the point standings. Things do not look like they will get any better this weekend at NHIS as he qualified in the middle of the pack in the 22nd position and was one position lower on the Speed chart. McMurray does not necessarily like NHIS that much anyway averaging just a 21st place finish in nine career starts at the track. It would be a good move to stay away from him for the Sylvania 300.

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