In NASCAR Cup Series racing at New Hampshire, the fastest qualifying time is held by Juan Pablo Montoya with a speed of 133.431. The race speed record is held by Jeff Burton at 117.134. Out of 20 different winners since 1993, 14 are listed on the entry list for this week's race. Ryan Newman has won the pole the most, while Jeff Burton has the most wins, each with four. Jeff Burton also is noted as having started the farthest back in the field and coming out with a win; he started from the 38th position in 1999. Jeff Gordon has the most top five finishes with 12.
Kyle Busch won the race in 2005 when he was 21 years old, making Kyle the youngest driver to win until Joey Logano showed up to get his first Cup Series win and to set a new record of 19 years and 35 days. Kyle Busch won the NNS race last year, and won the Cup race in 2006. Other drivers on this year's entry list who have wins in both the Cup and NNS races at New Hampshire are Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart. Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, and Marint Truex, Jr. have won NNS races at New Hampshire but not the Cup race.
So, who has the edge for this week? Denny Hamlin has been hot everywhere he goes lately, Jimmie Johnson is probably still riding the high from his first road course win last week at Sonoma, and with a solid showing from Dale Earnhardt, Jr. last week he could become a threat as well. Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, and Clint Bowyer are the only four drivers to have won from the pole...could one of them be the first to do it twice? There are plenty of drivers still seeking their first win at New Hampshire...do any of them have the drive to make it happen on Sunday?
From the stats I think we can expect Jeff Gordon to have a solid showing and see the top ten, if not add to his number of top five finishes at New Hampshire. Jimmie Johnson will most likely have a top ten finish as well. Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Mark Martin, Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton have all proven that they know how to get around the 1.058 mile speedway in a hurry and should see top tens this week barring getting caught up in one of the wrecks that will occur throughout the afternoon. I think Dale, Jr. will try like hell to get in the top ten and make his way into the top 12 in points standings, but it's going to depend on his car and if the crew can get him zeroed in where he wants to be. Denny Hamlin will probably be solidly within the top ten, as will Juan Pablo Montoya. Carl Edwards is my pick for underdog of the week. He had a 17th place finish last year at New Hampshire and is coming off a 29th place finish last week at Sonoma. He's got to be looking for a big finish this week to improve his current 12th place standing in the points.
With the number of drivers in the entry list and the number of those drivers who have had recent disagreements, this week's New Hampshire race it should be a fun one to watch.