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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Slow start to Chase not a death sentence for title hopes

Below is each Chase champion’s points position after the first Chase race:
2004 Kurt Busch 2
2005 Tony Stewart 1
2006 Jimmie Johnson 9
2007 Jimmie Johnson 1
2008 Jimmie Johnson 2
2009 Jimmie Johnson 2
2010 Jimmie Johnson 7
2011 Tony Stewart 2

So Jeff Gordon and others who struggled after Week 1 of the Chase have a little hope. Jimmie came back twice from slow starts.

Weekend race facts:
The Race: Sylvania 300
The Place: New Hampshire Motor Speedway
The Date: Sunday, Sept. 23
The Time: 2 p.m. (ET)
TV: ESPN, 1 p.m. (ET)
Radio: PRN, Sirius XM Ch. 90
Distance: 317.4 miles (300 laps)

The Race: Kentucky 300
The Place: Kentucky Speedway
The Date: Saturday, Sept. 22
The Time: 4 p.m. (ET)
TV: ESPN, 3:30 p.m. (ET)
Radio: PRN, Sirius XM Ch. 90
Distance: 300 miles (200 laps)

The Race: Kentucky 201
The Place: Kentucky Speedway
The Date: Friday, Sept. 21
The Time: 7:30 p.m. (ET)
TV: SPEED, 7 p.m. (ET)
Radio: MRN, Sirius XM Ch. 90
Distance: 201 miles (134 laps)

Four drivers to watch in New Hampshire:
— Stewart has the top Driver Rating (112.0) and 14 top fives in 27 starts.
— Gordon leads in top fives (15) and top 10s (20) with a 109.3 Driver Rating.
— Johnson is third in Driver Rating (105.1) and second in average finish (9.9).
— Hamlin ranks fourth in Driver Rating (101.4) and boasts a best average finish of 8.5.

— Current Chase competitors have won four of the past five races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway: Kahne, Stewart, Bowyer (fall 2010) and Johnson (summer 2010).

NASCAR Sprint Cup notes
Brian Vickers makes his return to the series this weekend, hopping back into the No. 55 Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing primarily driven by Mark Martin. Vickers has three top fives in six starts this season, including a fourth at Bristol in his last start four races ago. … There will be a true home-track advantage for the No. 32 FAS Lane Racing Ford team on Sunday. Driver Mike Olsen and crew chief/owner Frank Stoddard, who grew up together in North Haverhill, N.H., will team up for the first time in NASCAR’s premier series this weekend at the Magic Mile. Olsen, who won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championships in 2001 and 2006, will make his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut. … Major milestones are on the horizon for two NASCAR mainstays, Joe Gibbs Racing and Chevrolet. JGR’s next victory will be No. 100 in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition. Chevrolet is two wins away from 700 NASCAR Sprint Cup victories. … Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s eight-place finish at Chicagoland on Sunday pushed his season total to 18 top 10s, his highest figure since 2004 (21). … Jamie McMurray’s last top-10 finish was at Pocono Raceway in June. His next top 10 will be No. 100. He has four top 10s in 19 starts at New Hampshire. … Juan Pablo Montoya needs 14 more laps led to reach 1,000 career NSCS laps led.

NASCAR Nationwide notes
Four drivers will pull double duty this weekend in the NSCS and NNS races: Sam Hornish Jr., Kurt Busch, Scott Riggs, and Joe Nemechek. Former series champion (’92) Nemechek is turning heads this year with his family owned race team NEMCO Motorsports. He currently sits ninth in the championship standings despite missing Road America. The Florida native goes to the Kentucky 300 fresh off four straight finishes of 16th or better. ... Three drivers will pull double duty in the NNS and NCWTS races at Kentucky: Brian Scott, James Buescher and Ryan Blaney. Blaney became the youngest winner in NCWTS history last weekend at Iowa. … Milestone Watch:  Stenhouse will attempt to make his 100th series start and Scott Lagasse Jr., who returns to the series in his family owned No. 8 car, will attempt his 50th series start. … Retired military working dog Sgt. Beyco, United States Marine Corps (USMC) MP H100, will accompany her handler, Vietnam War veteran Joe Sturm, to deliver the command to fire engines for the Kentucky 300. Sgt. Beyco earned eight medals, including the Combat Action Ribbon, during eight years of service that included a three-year tour in Iraq.

NASCAR Truck series notes
Dakoda Armstrong, who left ThorSport Racing after Atlanta, returns to the series in Turner Motorsports’ No. 4 Chevrolet. … Brian Scott makes his third start of the season in the Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 18 Toyota. … David Mayhew hopes to better an Iowa finish of 16th in BKR’s No. 19 RAM. … Max Gresham will make his second start of the season at the wheel of Eddie Sharp Racing’s No. 8 Chevrolet. The Griffin, Ga., driver finished 22nd in his last outing at Atlanta Motor Speedway. … Daytona winner John King will be back in the series this week driving the No. 5 Wauters Racing Ford.


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