The NASCAR Cup Series heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 on Sunday (3 p.m ET, NBCSN/NBC Sports App, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
So yes, get your lobster rolls and Sam Adams ready to rock as we settle into the Magic Mile for the sport’s annual voyage up to New England.
On the heels of a runner-up performance last time out at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Kyle Busch will start from the pole Sunday, his first pole position since Phoenix Raceway in November 2019. Starting next to him on the front row will be his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Martin Truex Jr.
Chase Elliott will take the green flag from the third spot while last week’s winner Kurt Busch starts next to him in Row 2. Check out the full starting lineup here.
After being limited to just 12,000 fans in 2020, New Hampshire Motor Speedway will operate at full bore for its 2021 race weekend. Race-goers will have a new section to visit in Turn 4 called “Rock Point,” a bar and viewing area just outside the corner where nearly 10,000 seats were removed. There will also be more space in the main grandstands as spectators will have bar tops and cup holders in front of them at their seats.
Each guest is allowed to bring one soft-sided cooler with a maximum size of 14” x 14” x 14”. At the track, select stands will sell $3 Dasani waters and $5 Busch Lights. For more information, check out NHMS’s website.
NEW HAMPSHIRE’S NASCAR HISTORY
— New Hampshire Motor Speedway took shape at the former site of the Bryar Motorsports Park when Bob Bahre purchased the complex in 1989.
— The NASCAR Xfinity Series visited the track for the first time in 1990 before the Cup Series ventured north in 1993.
— NHMS is the largest sporting venue in New England at over 1,100 acres and seating capacity for 92,000 people.
— Speedway Motorsports purchased NHMS for $340 million in 2008, leading to numerous improvements including a 400% increase in usable infield space, enhanced safety fencing and an electronic scoreboard.
— Sunday’s race marks the 50th Cup Series contest at New Hampshire.
— Chevrolet has one win in the last 14 races at New Hampshire (Kevin Harvick, 2016).
Source: Racing Insights
New Hampshire Motor Speedway is 1.058 miles in length, so Cup teams will bring their high-horsepower, lower-downforce package to the Magic Mile this weekend.
With 750 HP under the hood, teams will also have shorter spoilers and front splitters to minimize the effects of downforce on the vehicles.
Goodyear will bring the same tire to New Hampshire as was used in last year’s events at the 1.058-mile asphalt oval. What’s important to note, though, is that this is the same tire used at Phoenix Raceway, where the Cup Series championship will be decided in November. Teams have also used these tires at Phoenix since the beginning of 2020.
“For Cup teams, they come back to Loudon on the same tire setup they’ve run there and at Phoenix for the past two seasons,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing. “That gives teams a chance to build a notebook on this setup and understand what works and where the edge of the envelope is.”
Because the track is so flat, teams utilize extremely low air pressures in their left-side tires to maximize grip and cornering. Goodyear warns teams heed the low minimum recommendation of 12 psi in those tires to avoid damaging the sidewalls and deflating a tire.
“Left-side pressures are important at Loudon as teams search for grip,” Stucker said. “Especially without practice, having raced on this setup before will help teams know that they need to respect our minimum recommended pressures.”
STORYLINES FROM THE GRANITE STATE
— Ford has won each of the last three races at New Hampshire, including Brad Keselowski’s 2020 victory.
— Kevin Harvick has won three of the last six races at the Magic Mile, and his crew chief Rodney Childers has four New Hampshire wins, leading all crew chiefs.
— Eleven of the last 12 race winners at New Hampshire are Cup Series champions, the lone exception being Denny Hamlin, who won in 2017.
— Toyota has dominated in laps led over the past seven races, leading 1,614 laps in the span opposed to 425 laps by Ford and 66 by Chevrolet.
— Martin Truex Jr. holds the record for most laps led at New Hampshire without a win, having led 744 circuits.
— Joe Gibbs Racing has finished first or second in 14 of the last 15 races at the Magic Mile, a stat that features seven wins and two 1-2 finishes.
— Hendrick Motorsports’ last win in New England was earned by Kasey Kahne, who went to Victory Lane in September 2012.
Source: Racing Insights
BET ON IT
Even though he’s yet to claim a victory here, Martin Truex Jr. is BetMGM’s favorite to win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday, listing the driver of the No. 19 Toyota at 5-1 odds. Each of Truex’s three wins this season have come at tracks utilizing the high-horsepower, low-downforce package: Phoenix Raceway, Martinsville Speedway and Darlington Raceway.
Others are listed right there with Truex though, with Kyle Larson posted at 21-4 (+525) and Denny Hamlin at 11-2 (+550).
Kevin Harvick may not be in the midst of his most successful season, still sitting winless in mid-July after notching nine wins last year. But consider him a reasonable play at 12-1 odds this weekend, especially considering his track record in New England.
One more sleeper? Christopher Bell. At 20-1 odds, Bell may be an attractive play. He was running sixth in 2020 for Levine Family Racing when he suffered a tire failure that took him out of contention, plus he has two Xfinity Series victories and a Camping World Truck Series triumph at the “Magic Mile” as well.
Want to manage a team and race your way to the top of the leaderboards? Check out NASCAR Fantasy Live. The free-to-play game lets you choose your drivers each week and show off your crew-chief instincts. It’s not too late to join in on the competition.
The 2021 Fantasy Live points leaders are Denny Hamlin (832), Kyle Larson (812), William Byron and Kyle Busch (724).
ALSO ON NASCAR.COM
Get additional camera views by logging on to NASCAR Drive, where each week a select number of in-car cameras will be available — as well as a battle cam and an overhead look.
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