Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - All three of NASCAR's national touring
series are in action this weekend, with Sprint Cup and Nationwide competing at
New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Camping World Truck running at Iowa Speedway.
Sprint Cup Series
Lenox Industrial Tools 301 - New Hampshire Motor Speedway - Loudon, NH
The battle for who will make this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup championship
has been heating up the past couple of weeks, much like the sweltering heat
wave throughout most of the country.
With eight races remaining in the regular season, just 14 points separate
fifth-place Tony Stewart from 10th-place Clint Bowyer. The two wild card spots
are very much up for grabs right now as well.
The top-10 drivers in points after the September 8 race at Richmond will
qualify for the Chase, and the wild cards will go to the non-top-10-ranked
competitors with the most wins, as long as they're ranked in the top 20 in
Two weeks ago, Bowyer was coming off of his first road course win at Sonoma,
CA and held the seventh spot in the point standings, but after finishing 16th
at Kentucky and then 29th at Daytona, the Michael Waltrip Racing driver is on
Fortunately, Bowyer is heading to one of his best racetracks in Sprint Cup
this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Bowyer, in his first season with
MWR, is the only repeat winner at this 1.058-mile track in the past nine
races. His first of six career wins so far came at New Hampshire in September
"The last couple of weekends have not been very good," Bowyer said. "Daytona
was kind of a disaster for us, but I'm looking forward to getting into New
Hampshire where I usually have a pretty good run."
New Hampshire is one of two tracks where he has won multiple times. Talladega
is the other.
"(New Hampshire) is just one of those tracks where I feel like we can win
again, but more importantly, we can get things steered back in the right
direction, like we had through the month of June," Bowyer said. "We had a lot
of solid runs right there, and that's what it takes, especially at this point
in the year. We had the win. If we can get ourselves another win, it would be
huge. But the biggest thing is don't do something stupid and knock ourselves
out of this Chase."
Stewart and ninth-place Brad Keselowski are in great shape to qualify for the
Chase, with each driver scoring three wins already for the season. Keselowski
won at Kentucky, and then Stewart claimed the victory at Daytona.
However, Stewart received a loss of six points as part of his team's penalty
for an illegal open vent hose discovered in his car during post-qualifying
inspection at Daytona.
Last year, Stewart was almost flawless at New Hampshire. He finished second to
teammate Ryan Newman in the July race and then won the fall event. Stewart's
win there last September was his second of five victories in last season's
Kevin Harvick is tied with Stewart in points (586), while Denny Hamlin and
Bowyer's teammate, Martin Truex Jr., are just two markers behind them.
Keselowski is only one point ahead of Bowyer.
Kyle Busch presently holds the first wild card spot. Busch is 12th in the
standings (-56 points behind Bowyer) and has one win (Richmond spring race).
Joey Logano occupies the final wild card position, based on his victory at
Pocono and 14th in points (-69 from 10th place).
Ryan Newman and Kasey Kahne sit third and fourth, respectively, in the wild
card standings. Newman, currently 15th in the rankings, won at Martinsville,
and Kahne, 16th, took the checkered flag at Charlotte.
Eleventh-place Carl Edwards and 13th-place Paul Menard have yet to win a race
this season. Edwards trails Bowyer by 31 points heading into New Hampshire.
Like Bowyer, Newman is glad New Hampshire is the next race on the schedule. He
has three wins there, including his first career Cup victory in the fall of
"I used to say New Hampshire was my least favorite racetrack, but it's far
from that now," Newman said. "It's still not my favorite racetrack, but I
really look forward to coming back there each year. New Hampshire has always
been a good place for me. I'm not 100 percent sure why. It's the place of my
first win, and when I hadn't won in a long while, 70-some races, I won again
there. Last July, we were able to qualify and finish 1-2 at Stewart-Haas. So,
I really look forward to it."
Forty-four teams are on the preliminary entry list for Sunday's Lenox
Industrial Tools 301.
F.W. Webb 200 - New Hampshire Motor Speedway - Loudon, NH
The "Dash 4 Cash" is back in the Nationwide Series this season, beginning with
Saturday's race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Elliott Sadler, rookie Austin Dillon, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Michael Annett
are those drivers eligible for the $100,000 bonus from Nationwide Insurance,
the title sponsor of NASCAR's second-tier series.
Sadler, Dillon and Stenhouse gained eligibility since they are currently the
top-three drivers in the point standings. A fourth member presently in the
top-10 in points qualifies as well. Michael Annett, sixth in the rankings,
earned the last spot for New Hampshire, based on his career-best finishes in
his past two starts -- fourth at Kentucky and third at Daytona.
The top-finisher of the four eligible drivers at New Hampshire will receive
the $100,000 cash award and will qualify for the bonus in the next round,
which is July 22 at Chicagoland Speedway. Indianapolis Motor Speedway (July
28) and Iowa Speedway (August 4) are rounds three and four.
If the same driver is the top-finisher in each of those four rounds, and is
the race winner at Iowa, that person's total winnings will reach $1 million.
Sadler comes to New Hampshire with an eight-point lead over Dillon, his
Richard Childress Racing teammate, and an 18-point advantage over Stenhouse,
the defending Nationwide champion.
"This is definitely a track that I feel we will have a strong run," Sadler
Dillon's team is hoping New Hampshire won't be the third straight race they
receive penalties for rules infractions. Dillon has been docked a total of 12
points for violations that occurred at Kentucky and Daytona. An illegal open
vent hose was discovered in his car during post-qualifying inspection at
Daytona. His Kentucky race-winning car was found to be too low during
inspection after the event.
Danny Stockman Jr., the crew chief for Dillon's No. 3 RCR team, and Robert
Strmiska, the car chief, have been suspended from NASCAR competition until
July 25 for violating their probation. They were placed on probation for
infractions that occurred in April at Richmond.
Dillon's lone Nationwide race at New Hampshire came in 2010 when he finished
25th. He placed second in last year's Camping World Truck Series race there.
Dillon captured the 2011 truck championship before graduating to Nationwide
full-time this season.
"We've run really well at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the past," Dillon
said. "Last year, we had a truck capable of winning. We ran behind or beside
Kyle Busch the whole race. We raced under him a few times. I learned a lot
from racing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Camping World Truck
Series, and hopefully we can use that experience to our advantage this
Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Brad Keselowski and Jamie McMurray are
those Sprint Cup Series regulars competing in this race.
Busch, the Nationwide race winner at New Hampshire the past three years, is
driving his own No. 54 Toyota in this event. His elder brother, Kurt, gave the
team its first Nationwide win at Richmond.
"Richmond worked out well for Kurt," Kyle Busch said. "We've put ourselves in
position to win a few more times, but we have to avoid catastrophe and limit
our mistakes in order to finish the deal. What (crew chief Mike) Beam and the
team have built so far has proven to be competitive. I know (the win) will
happen. It's just a matter of time."
Forty-three teams are on the preliminary entry list for the F.W. Webb 200.
Camping World Truck Series
American Ethanol 200 - Iowa Speedway - Newton, IA
While the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series compete at New Hampshire Motor
Speedway, the Camping World Truck Series races at Iowa Speedway this weekend.
No drivers are scheduled to do the New Hampshire/Iowa combo.
Timothy Peters comes to the "Hawkeye State" with a four-point lead over Justin
Lofton and rookie Ty Dillon, while James Buescher is nine points behind.
Buescher won the most recent truck race two weeks ago at Kentucky.
Peters, who drives the No. 17 Toyota for Red Horse Racing, has recorded seven
top-10 finishes in the first eight races this season. He finished 11th last
month at Texas. His average finishing position is 6.0.
"I think it's a team effort," Peters said. "We have taken what we have and
really made the best of it, going out to get the best finish that our Toyota
Tundra can give us. All the guys work hard, and I try to not mess up where
they are making gains. Our pit crew has also done a great job on pit road.
I've always been the type of racer not to jeopardize the equipment. We really
want to get those wins, and I think we will start soon."
Can Peters' maintain his momentum at Iowa?
He finished eighth in his first truck start at this 0.875-mile racetrack in
2009 but has placed 11th and 27th there the past two years.
"I really like Iowa Speedway," he said. "It's a short track with a mile and
half type speed. It's a unique racetrack. I'm always a fan of short tracks
when I go back. It's where I started racing and always provides a really good
Lofton finished 15th at Iowa in 2010 and 12th there last year.
Dillon will compete in a truck race at Iowa for the first time. He won last
year's ARCA Series event there.
"Iowa has always been a great track for me," Dillon said. "If I had to pick a
favorite race track, Iowa would win."
Dillon has finished no worse than 10th so far this year, while Buescher is the
only repeat winner. Buescher's first career truck victory came in April at
Matt Crafton won last year's Iowa truck race. Crafton is presently sixth in
the point standings (-42).
Thirty-nine teams are on the preliminary entry list for the American Ethanol
200. The series will compete at Iowa again on September 15.
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