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Stewart, Newman confident heading into Loudon

July 13, 2012, Joe Menzer, NASCAR.com

The Stewart-Haas cars were a familiar sight up front last year at Loudon, and they expect more of the same. (Getty Images)

LOUDON, N.H. -- Stewart, Newman confident in their return to comfortable New Hampshire

Get the pot of water boiling and put a huge lobster on hold for a Stewart-Haas Racing driver.

Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman each were presented with one last year after eating up New Hampshire Motor Speedway. And after a Friday of practice and qualifying at the 1.058-mile race track, the Stewart-Haas Racing teammates are looking like they'll be in contention to receive the race winner's spoils from track officials again in this Sunday's LENOX Industrial Tools 301.

"I think just a little bit of our past, a little bit of us as far as the way we drive race cars, is what helps us here."

--RYAN NEWMAN

"We're decent, I think," said Stewart, the owner-driver of the No. 14 Chevrolet. "We were pretty good here for both races last year, so I'm pretty excited about coming back here."

Stewart won the most recent Sprint Cup race at the venue last fall, and in the spring of 2011 he finished second while Newman won. For their careers, the numbers are impressive: three wins apiece at the track and 1,900 laps led between them.

The only two tracks where Stewart has led more laps are Bristol and Martinsville, short tracks half the size of New Hampshire. And Newman has led more laps at only one other venue -- Dover, the only other track where he also has three career victories. Last year he led not only the one-two finish for Stewart-Haas, but the one-two start after Newman claimed the pole.

"It was awesome for us here last year," Newman said. "It was a time when Stewart was struggling a little bit, too, so to have the one-two start and one-two finish, that was awesome. Then for him to back it up -- for us to win the spring race, and him to win the fall race -- it was an amazing place for us here, for Stewart-Haas, this race track here in Loudon. We'll try to do it again. There is no reason that we can't."

They won't start one-two this time around. Newman qualified sixth and Stewart 10th on Friday, respectively. But they were fast in practice -- and with Stewart coming off a win last Saturday night at Daytona, they likely will be a pair to watch for on Sunday.

Asked why he thinks the SHR teams are so good at New Hampshire, Stewart said: "I wish I knew, but it seems like where we were last year it's continuing on so far -- even though it sounds like we've got a little bit of a different tire. I'm pretty happy with it. I mean the car right off the first lap felt like it had really good balance to it. We've just got to keep working with it and see if we can keep making it better all weekend."

Newman said he thought he had a better idea about why he and his boss are tough to contend with at New Hampshire.

"I think our cars are good, there's no doubt," Newman said. "I think the Hendrick engines [are strong], and everything's clicking. I like the track because I think you have to feel the tires and be on the edge.

"I was thinking about it last week. I think it kind of reminds us of our old IRP [Indianapolis Raceway Park] days. This kind of drives like that kind of race track where your car is on top of the race track, and you get everything that you can. There is nothing to really make it go any faster. It's not like you're pushing the car on the banking to make it grip better. There's none of that really to speak of here. I think just a little bit of our past, a little bit of us as far as the way we drive race cars, is what helps us here."

Stewart was so excited about this weekend's possibilities that he didn't even seem too concerned about the six-point penalty his team was assessed for a cooling-hose violation that was discovered during post-qualifying inspection last week at Daytona. In addition, crew chief Steve Addington was fined $25,000 and both Addington and car chief Jeff Meendering were placed on probation until Aug. 22.

"It was a mistake on our team's part and we deserve the penalty for it," Stewart said. "Luckily it was in qualifying, so it wasn't something that made us win the race. We didn't win the race because of that. Like I said, it was just a mistake on our part and we've just got to make sure we don't overlook that again."

Watch Stewart-Haas Racing's 2012 season highlights below: