Nascar: A Weekend In New Hampshire

Lenox Industrial Tools 301This weekends stop on the Nascar circuit takes us to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Nationwide and Sprint Cup divisions, and to Iowa for the Trucks. The Nationwide action begins Saturday afternoon with the F.W.Webb 200 and continues Sunday afternoon with the Lenox  Industrial Tools 301. The Camping World Truck Series will run the American Ethanol 200 later Saturday night from the Iowa Speedway.

Although the New Hampshire Motor Speedway has only been on the Cup Circuit since 1993, the track has been a source of history for Nascar. The 1.058 mile track located in Loudon New Hampshire was completed and opened in June of 1990. The track nicknamed the “Magic Mile” is paved with asphalt and granite, and has variable banking in the corners from 2 to 7 degrees, with the straits at one degree. New Hampshire also hosts Indy Cars, Motorcycles and a Camping World truck race each year.

After hosting two Busch series races a year, New Hampshire was awarded a Winston Cup race in July of 1993 which was won by Rusty Wallace in his famed Miller Genuine Draft Pontiac. Ryan Newman holds the qualifying record with a lap of 135.232 mph (28.165 sec). Jeff Burton has the most wins with four, and the Rainbow Warrior Jeff Gordon with the most top 5′s and top 10′s at 14 and 18 respectfully. Ryan Newman has the most poles with four, and Jeff Gordon again with the most laps led and most laps recorded.F.W. Webb 200

Davey Allison ran in the inaugural July Slick 50 300 here in 1993, and was killed in a helicopter crash the following week. The Loudon race was his last in the famed Havoline Texaco #28.

After Ernie Irvan was almost fatally  injured in a crash during practice at Michigan , his first win after returning was in the July race here in 1996 at Loudon.

There were two Nascar drivers killed in accidents at New Hampshire. While practicing in May of 2000 for a Busch race, Adam Petty, grandson of Richard Petty, and son of Kyle Petty, was killed when his throttle hung in the full open position while exiting turn two, and crashed head on into the middle of turn 3 and 4. Later that year for the Cup race, Kenny Irwin Jr, the 1998 Rookie Of The Year, had a similar fate and was killed. This prompted Nascar to run restrictor plates at New Hampshire in the fall race. This was the first and only time the plates were ever used on a race track other than Talladega and Daytona International Speedway. Jeff Burton was the wire to wire winner of this race that had no cautions, and was the first since the 1970′s.

These accidents prompted Bruton Smith, owner of the speedway, to change the banking from 12 degrees the the current 2/7 configuration, and add the new Safer Barriers.

Nascar’s old rule of racing back to the caution ended at New Hampshire, when in 2003, Dale Jarrett spun out on the front stretch and sat in his car with his left door exposed as everyone raced to the caution. There had been incidents before like this, and Nascar decided to do away with the old rule, and mandated everyone slow down as soon as the caution came out. To keep cars from trying to make up positions on the track, they instituted the “Lucky Dog” rule.

The September race here in 2001 was the first race to be cancelled after the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington DC. The race was finally ran the day after Thanksgiving despite weather concerns. They got a beautiful day, and Robby Gordon won the race.

Because New Hampshire hosts both Nascar,  and Indy Car events, Tony Stewart is the only driver to have won a race here in both series.

The Lenox Industrial Tools 301 should flag off around 1:15 PM Sunday on TNT, and the F.W. Webb 200 will be Saturday around 3:30 PM on ESPN. Ryan Newman is your defending champion for the Cup race, and Kyle Busch for the Nationwide race.

 

Images Courtesy Getty Images for Nascar

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Topics: Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, NASCAR Nationwide Series, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Richard Petty Motorsports, Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart

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