Race: 2009 Sylvania 300
Date: Sunday September 20, 2009
Track: New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Time: 1 pm ET
New Hampshire Motor Speedway is located in Loudon, New Hampshire. It’s basically an intermediate track with a short track mentality. In fact, it’s been called Martinsville on steroids by several drivers. New Hampshire is considered one of the toughest ovals to drive on the circuit by the top drivers. It’s a pretty good race every year.
In Loudon, you’ll find this track at just over 1 mile in length. It’s a true oval with variable banking from 2 degrees to seven degrees, which means the banking is progressive into the turns and out on the straights. The straights boast 1 degree banking through the back stretch and front stretch. Each stretch is a notable 1500 feet.
Now, if you’ve ever watched Martinsville, you KNOW that short track racing is intense there. It’s hard to have any significant green lap runs there. Here at Loudon, the same case comes into play. For whatever reason, Loudon is just about as difficult to drive as Martinsville if not harder. The drivers can race side by side but the racing is intense and few drivers leave here without some sort of donuts on their fenders.
Honestly, this is one of my favorite tracks to watch. We’ve seen Kevin Harvick win here as well as Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, and Ryan Newman. Clint Bowyer and Tony Stewart are also notables.
In terms of picking a winner this week, the game changes a little bit. Because this is the first race of the post-season we are going to have to anticipate the drivers’ and teams’ moves. Before, the name of the game was being consistent and having solid strong runs. Now, things have changed a little bit. Because there are only 12 drivers competing for that coveted Sprint Cup, we are going to see the rest of the field go balls to the walls. Kyle Busch is going to be one to watch. Especially since he’s not in the Chase, you better believe that he’s going for wins. He’s not going to sit back and hope for a strong solid finish anymore. He’s going to move people and make his way to victory circle anyway he knows how.
My pick: Kyle Busch
Greg Biffle, a Cup contender, is the defending champ of this race and I think that he will be in the top 5-7 this week, but I think that we’re going to see the non-Chase drivers working towards next year. Kyle is going to push his team to make big changes and adjustments and take risks to those Chase contenders may not be willing to take because of the fear of losing grip on the title.
I would look for the RCR guys to make up some lost ground here and to progress and work on their adjustments since they’ve struggled throughout the season. This is a track that they always run well at, so look for Harvick and Bowyer to attempt strong runs. The Roush guys will be doing the same.
Here’s a recap of your top 12 in points as we head into the first post-season race:
1. Mark Martin
2. Tony Stewart
3. Jimmie Johnson
4. Denny Hamlin
5. Kasey Kahne
6. Jeff Gordon
7. Kurt Busch
8. Brian Vickers
9. Carl Edwards
10. Ryan Newman
11. Juan Montoya
12. Greg Biffle
No longer is Stewart the top seed. Martin holds the top spot for having 4 wins this season. We go back to the regular points-scoring system now that the field is set for the Chase, so stay tuned. It’s definitely going to be interesting to see how these Chase teams change up their strategies. Johnson won the championship on consistency. Let’s see how much that does this year.