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Everything you need to know for Sunday’s Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire

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After a wet and wild ride at Daytona, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series are heading for New England this weekend with a stop at the one-mile New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The low-banked, sweeping corners of the “Magic Mile” makes passing relatively difficult; as such, the matter of gaining and keeping track position is critical to success here. Expect to keep track of varying pit/fuel strategies among the teams, especially late in the running.

Sunday’s Camping World RV Sales 301 could also give us a bit of a glimpse into the Chase this fall, as New Hampshire hosts the second race of NASCAR’s 10-race playoff.

Courtesy of NASCAR’s public relations and statistics teams, here’s everything you need to know for Round 19 of the 2014 Sprint Cup championship…

NEW HAMPSHIRE-SPECIFIC STATISTICS

Clint Bowyer (No. 15 5-Hour Energy Toyota)
· Two wins, four top fives, six top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 15.1
· Average Running Position of 12.4, sixth-best
· Driver Rating of 95.0, sixth-best
· 233 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 124.704 mph, sixth-fastest
· 3,352 Laps in the Top 15 (70.3%), 12th-most
· 452 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), 11th-most

Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet)
· Three wins, seven top fives, 11 top 10s
· Average finish of 15.3
· Average Running Position of 13.7, 10th-best
· Driver Rating of 90.4, 12th-best
· 187 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most
· 920 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 124.559 mph, 10th-fastest
· 3,380 Laps in the Top 15 (62.9%), 11th-most
· 516 Quality Passes, sixth-most

Kyle Busch (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota)
· One win, six top fives, eight top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 15.1
· Average Running Position of 14.0, 12th-best
· Driver Rating of 93.1, seventh-best
· 206 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 124.532 mph, 12th-fastest
· 3,465 Laps in the Top 15 (64.5%), eighth-most
· 480 Quality Passes, eighth-most

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet)
· Seven top fives, 12 top 10s
· Average finish of 15.7
· Average Running Position of 11.7, fifth-best
· Driver Rating of 97.3, fifth-best
· 236 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
· 1,002 Green Flag Passes, third-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 124.860 mph, fourth-fastest
· 3,976 Laps in the Top 15 (74.0%), fourth-most
· 568 Quality Passes, third-most

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet)
· Three wins, 16 top fives, 22 top 10s; four poles
· Average finish of 10.6
· Series-best Average Running Position of 7.4
· Driver Rating of 109.2, second-best
· Series-high 433 Fastest Laps Run
· 893 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most
· Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 125.062 mph
· Series-high 4,804 Laps in the Top 15 (89.5%)
· Series-high 618 Quality Passes

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota)
· Two wins, seven top fives, 10 top 10s
· Average finish of 9.0
· Average Running Position of 10.8, fourth-best
· Driver Rating of 102.9, fourth-best
· 284 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 124.821 mph, fifth-fastest
· 3,547 Laps in the Top 15 (74.4%), seventh-most
· 526 Quality Passes, fifth-most

Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet)
· One win, five top fives, 13 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 13.7
· Average Running Position of 13.0, eighth-best
· Driver Rating of 91.1, 11th-best
· 156 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most
· 904 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 124.568 mph, ninth-fastest
· 3,430 Laps in the Top 15 (63.9%), ninth-most

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet)
· Three wins, nine top fives, 17 top 10s
· Average finish of 9.2
· Average Running Position of 9.7, third-best
· Driver Rating of 105.8, third-best
· 430 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
· 938 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 124.866 mph, third-fastest
· 4,453 Laps in the Top 15 (82.9%), second-most
· 602 Quality Passes, second-most

Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Great Clips / Shark Week Chevrolet)
· One win, three top fives, eight top 10s
· Average finish of 17.0
· Driver Rating of 92.4, 10th-best
· 331 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
· 948 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 124.697 mph, seventh-fastest
· 3,411 Laps in the Top 15 (63.5%), 10th-most
· 487 Quality Passes, seventh-most

Ryan Newman (No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet)
· Three wins, six top fives, 15 top 10s; seven poles
· Average finish of 14.0
· Average Running Position of 13.0, ninth-best
· Driver Rating of 92.5, ninth-best
· 158 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 124.537 mph, 11th-fastest
· 3,935 Laps in the Top 15 (73.3%), fifth-most
· 456 Quality Passes, 10th-most

Tony Stewart (No. 14 Mobil 1 Chevrolet)
· Three wins, 14 top fives, 17 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 11.9
· Average Running Position of 9.1, second-best
· Series-best Driver Rating of 111.0
· 408 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 124.972 mph, second-fastest
· 4,182 Laps in the Top 15 (82.5%), third-most
· 535 Quality Passes, fourth-most

Chase Grid (After 18 of 26 regular season races)
1. Jimmie Johnson, 3 wins, 596 points
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 2 wins, 624 points
3. Brad Keselowski, 2 wins, 586 points
4. Joey Logano, 2 wins, 546 points
5. Carl Edwards, 2 wins, 543 points
6. Kevin Harvick, 2 wins, 514 points
7. Jeff Gordon, 1 win, 651 points (Points Leader)
8. Kyle Busch, 1 win, 524 points
9. Denny Hamlin, 1 win, 493 points
10. Aric Almirola, 1 win, 452 points
11. Kurt Busch, 1 win, 422 points
12. Matt Kenseth, no wins, 580 points
13. Ryan Newman, no wins, 534 points
14. Paul Menard, no wins, 516 points
15. Clint Bowyer, no wins, 509 points
16. Austin Dillon, no wins, 494 points

17. Greg Biffle, no wins, 490 points
18. Brian Vickers, no wins, 484 points
19. Kyle Larson, no wins, 482 points
20. Kasey Kahne, no wins, 482 points

source:

New Hampshire Motor Speedway Track Data
Season Race #: 19 of 36 (07-13-14)
Track Size: 1.058-mile
Banking/Turn 1 & 2: 2 to 7 degrees
Banking/Turn 3 & 4: 2 to 7 degrees
Banking/Frontstretch: 1 degree
Banking/Backstretch: 1 degree
Frontstretch Length: 1,500 feet
Backstretch Length: 1,500 feet
Race Length: 301 laps / 318.46 miles

Top 10 Driver Rating at New Hampshire
Tony Stewart……………………….. 111.0
Jeff Gordon………………………… 109.2
Jimmie Johnson…………………… 105.8
Denny Hamlin………………………. 102.9
Dale Earnhardt Jr…………………… 97.3
Clint Bowyer…………………………. 95.0
Kyle Busch…………………………… 93.1
Ryan Newman……………………….. 92.5
Kasey Kahne………………………… 92.4
Kevin Harvick………………………… 91.1
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2013 races (18 total) among active drivers at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Qualifying/Race Data
2013 Coors Light Pole winner: Brad Keselowski, Ford, 135.922 mph, 28.022 secs., 07-12-13
2013 race winner: Bryan Vickers, Toyota, 98.735 mph, (03:14:10), 07-14-13
Track qualifying record: Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 136.497 mph, 27.904 secs., 09-20-13
Track race record: Jeff Burton, Ford, 117.134 mph, (02:42:35), 07-13-97

New Hampshire Motor Speedway History
· Groundbreaking for New Hampshire International Speedway, as New Hampshire Motor Speedway was originally named, was Aug. 13, 1989.
· The 1.058-mile oval is located on approximately 1,200 acres; the multi-use complex is the largest sports facility in New England.
· The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was on July 11, 1993 – won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace.
· Speedway Motorsports, Inc. agreed to purchase New Hampshire International Speedway from Bob and Gary Bahre on January 11, 2008 and then renamed the track New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

New Hampshire Motor Speedway Notebook
· There have been 38 NASCAR Sprint Cup races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway; one per year from 1993 through 1996 and two per year since.
· 150 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway; 122 in more than one.
· Four drivers have competed in all 38 races at New Hampshire: Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte and Joe Nemechek.
· Mark Martin won the inaugural Coors Light pole at New Hampshire in 1993 with a speed of 126.871 mph.
· 18 drivers have Coors Light poles at New Hampshire, led by Ryan Newman with seven.
· Five drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at New Hampshire: Ken Schrader (1997 sweep); Jeff Gordon (1998-1999); Rusty Wallace (1999-2000); Ryan Newman (twice – 2003-2004 and 2011 sweep); Juan Pablo Montoya (2009-2010).
· Youngest New Hampshire Coors Light pole winner: Brian Vickers (07/17/2005 – 21 years, 8 months, 23 days).
· Oldest New Hampshire Coors Light pole winner: Bill Elliott (07/21/2002 – 46 years, 9 months, 13 days).
· 23 different drivers have won at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, led by Jeff Burton with four.
· Two drivers have posted consecutive wins at New Hampshire Motor Speedway: Jimmie Johnson (2003 sweep) and Kurt Busch (2004 sweep).
· Youngest New Hampshire winner: Joey Logano (06/28/2009 – 19 years, 1 month, 4 days).
· Oldest New Hampshire winner: Mark Martin (09/20/2009 – 50 years, 8 months, 11 days).
· Hendrick Motorsports leads the series in wins at New Hampshire in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with nine; followed by Roush Fenway Racing with seven.
· Five different manufacturers have won at New Hampshire; led by Chevrolet with 18 victories; followed by Ford with 11 and Toyota with four.
· Jeff Burton is the only driver to win the July race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway three consecutive years in a row (1997, ’98 and ’99)
· Five of the 38 (13.1%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at New Hampshire have been won from the Coors Light pole; the most recent was Ryan Newman in 2011.
· The Coors Light pole is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (five) than any other starting position at New Hampshire.
· Eight of the 38 (21%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at New Hampshire have been won from the front row: eight from the pole and seven from second-place.
· 20 of the 38 (52.6%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at New Hampshire have been won from a top-10 starting position.
· Nine of the 38 (23.6%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at New Hampshire have been won from a starting position outside the top 20.
· The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at New Hampshire was 38th, by Jeff Burton in 1999.
· Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart are tied for the series lead in runner-up finishes at New Hampshire with five each.
· Jeff Gordon leads the series in top-five finishes at New Hampshire with 16; followed by Tony Stewart with 14.
· Jeff Gordon leads the series in top-10 finishes at New Hampshire with 22; followed by Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson with 17 each.
· Ryan Newman leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at New Hampshire with an 8.042.
· Denny Hamlin leads NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at New Hampshire with an 9.000.
· All 15 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winners at New Hampshire Motor Speedway participated in at least one or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Ryan Newman and Joey Logano won at New Hampshire in their second appearance.
· Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at New Hampshire without a win at 29.
· Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway was the July 1, 2007 race won by Denny Hamlin over Jeff Gordon with a MOV of 0.068 second.
· 16 of the 30 NSCS races scored by electronic scoring at New Hampshire Motor Speedway have had a Margin of Victory less than a second.
· Two of the 38 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races have resulted with a green-white-checkered finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Scheduled No. of Laps/Actual No. of Laps): 2006 (300/308) and 2013 (301/302).
· Four of the 38 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway have been shortened due to weather conditions; the most recent was June 28, 2009 – the race was called on Lap 273, 28 circuits shy of the 301 scheduled laps.
· Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway four times: 2001, 2004, 2008 and 2009.
· Two active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have made their first career start at New Hampshire Motor Speedway: Joe Nemechek (7/11/93), and Joey Logano (9/14/08).
· Brad Keselowski (9/19/10) is the only active driver to post his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light pole at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
· Four active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted their first career win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway: Joe Nemechek (9/19/99), Ryan Newman (9/15/02), Clint Bowyer (9/16/07) and Joey Logano (6/28/09).
· Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at New Hampshire with 1,352 laps led in 38 starts.
· Danica Patrick is the only female driver that has competed in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

source:

NASCAR in New Hampshire
· There have been 38 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in New Hampshire, all at NHMS. Additionally, NHMS has hosted 27 Nationwide and 16 Truck Series races.
· 15 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as New Hampshire; Jamie Aube is the only one of the 15 to record a victory in NASCAR national series competition. Aube won July 12, 1987 at Oxford Plains Speedway in Oxford, ME; it was his only start that season.

CJ Wilson completes first test in Porsche GT3 Cup car

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Photo courtesy of CJ Wilson Racing
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CJ Wilson’s new career is officially underway, following his retirement from professional baseball and now having completed his first test last week at Texas World Speedway in his new 2017 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car.

Wilson, who formally announced the news he’d be transitioning into racing full-time during Rolex 24 at Daytona race week, did a two-day test at the still active oval/road course combo track in College Station, Texas. Wilson tested one of the team’s Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsports (the team runs two in IMSA’s Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge) and then advanced into the Cup car.

Wilson got fairly close to teammate Marc Miller’s times during the test as he acclimated to both the Cup car and the Yokohama tires.

“It’s great to take another step towards my goals,” Wilson said. “We had a chance to burn through two sets of tires today and I made a lot of progress. Having Marc as my coach was incredibly helpful because we have a lot of faith in each other and communicate using the same terms. Having sat in driver debriefings for the past six years with the race team, I was able to take all the input logically and make progress each session.

“The only odd thing about the test is that nobody else was here, which was the first time I have ever been on a track completely alone, so when we did a race simulation I had to use my imagination. TWS is a really fast and bumpy track. Looking forward to getting back in the car in ten days and pick up where I left off.”

Miller added, “CJ did great job, but I expected as much. He is logical and methodical which makes him easy to help and that translated into a very quick progression along the learning curve. Like any professional athlete though he is never truly satisfied because he wants to be perfect. He took quickly to the new Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car. It is confidence inspiring and such a capable platform so that suited him well in getting up to speed. Overall, it was a successful first outing and I look forward to working with CJ this season. I expect he will have a solid debut at Sebring. He better or I’m likely fired.”

A teaser of on-board footage is below, along with a couple other social posts from the test:

Danny Watts: ‘Staying hidden was nothing but torture and pain’

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 22:  (l to r) Strakka Racing drivers Danny Watts, Nick Leventis and Jonny Kane pose during the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship Photo Call on March 22, 2013 at Potters Fields in London, England.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
Watts (left) with Leventis and Kane in 2013. Photo: Getty Images
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Sports car veteran driver Danny Watts has announced his retirement from active competition, but is in the news for an entirely different reason on Monday.

The 37-year-old Brit has announced he’s gay, penning a first-person piece for the Huffington Post and also doing interviews with both Daily Sportscar and Autosport. The latter article features a well-written op-ed from author Matt Beer.

In the Huffington Post piece, Watts, an eight-time starter and 2010 LMP2 class winner at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, wrote that hiding his sexuality in the heavily white male heterosexual world of motorsport was simply becoming too much to keep under wraps.

“There isn’t any one moment that stands out in my mind as the moment I realized I would need to live in the closet if I wanted my motorsport career to go anywhere; it was just a general feeling I got,” Watts wrote.

“All the other guys in the paddock had girlfriends, so I got one to blend in. When that relationship ended, I got another one, and so I continued pretending to be straight for seventeen years.

“Staying hidden was nothing but torture and pain.

“I hope that there are a few people who are supportive. If the response I’ve had from the queer motorsport community thus far is any gauge, I feel hopeful that I’ll find a supportive group to start driving change for my queer siblings in the sport I love.”

Within the motorsports world, Watts’ name is best known to the sports car paddock, and he was a regular with the Strakka Racing team alongside co-drivers Jonny Kane and Nick Leventis. But he isn’t particularly known to the racing world at large.

This announcement comes as Watts has opted to call time on his full-time driving career and instead will focus on coaching for the future. It also represents one of the higher profile names in racing announcing his sexual orientation, which makes it newsworthy.

Despite some detractors (as you might expect), a number of other drivers and key motorsports figures have revealed their support for Watts, and why this news matters, on social media today:

Marino Franchitti returns to Mazda at Sebring

SEBRING, FL - MARCH 15:  Left to right, Marino Franchitti, Memo Rojas and Scott Pruett celebrate after winning the 12 Hours of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway on March 15, 2014 in Sebring, Florida.  (Photo by Brian Cleary/Getty Images)
Franchitti (left) won at Sebring in 2014. Photo: Getty Images
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Marino Franchitti will make his return to a Mazda entry for next month’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, to be run March 18, as third driver in the team’s No. 70 Mazda RT24-P with Joel Miller and Tom Long.

The Scotsman competed in the team’s RX-8 and 6 models in the GT ranks but has been out of a drive since his role with Ford Chip Ganassi Racing last season in one of the team’s Ford GTs in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Franchitti replaces James Hinchcliffe, who was the third driver in the No. 70 car at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. He’ll test for the team later this week at Sebring prior to the race run in the second IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race of the year.

“A big part of those results are being with great teams and having great teammates. I’ve been fortunate in that regard,” said Franchitti, who co-drove to win overall at Sebring in 2014. “I love driving there, I always have since the first laps I did. It’s a proper old-school track. If you go over the limit, you crash, simple as that, rather than going onto some tarmac run-off like many tracks. I love the challenge of walking that tightrope. Of course, there’s the challenge of the bumps too, trying to get the car to handle over them and the beating the car and driver takes. There’s a reason people come from all over the world to endurance test their cars here, it’s the ultimate test of a vehicle and its durability.

No. 70 Mazda RT24-P. Photo courtesy of IMSA
No. 70 Mazda RT24-P. Photo courtesy of IMSA

“It’s so cool to be coming back into the Mazda family,” said Franchitti. “Like everyone else, I was blown away when I saw the first shots of the RT24-P and how incredible it looks, so there’s a lot of excitement at getting to drive it. I’m relieved I get a chance to test the car, as many times I’ve just jumped in and raced, so this is a bit of a luxury! Being a part of the development process of a car is something I’ve been lucky enough to do several times and it’s something I really love.”

Mazda Motorsports director John Doonan added, “He’s a proven winner there, and he’s been a part of the Mazda family for years. Just look at his record at Sebring! He has the experience that can really help our team. Because he’s driven with Mazda before, we know his personality is a great fit. That’s important to us, and it goes a long way in helping the team chemistry remain strong. He’s a great fit with Tom [Long] and Joel [Miller], just as Spencer Pigot has been great with Nunez and Bomarito.”

Pipo Derani set for IndyCar test with SPM at Sebring

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Photo courtesy of IMSA
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Pipo Derani has become a star in the sports car world the last couple years, courtesy of his drives primarily with Tequila Patron ESM.

Meanwhile for at least a day, the 23-year-old Brazilian will be returning to his open-wheel roots in a big way.

NBC Sports has learned Derani will test for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports on March 1 in a rookie test for the Verizon IndyCar Series. Derani joins Mexican driver Luis Michael Dorrbecker, who will also make his test debut that day at that test at Sebring International Raceway’s 1.5-mile short course.

Derani raced a partial season in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires series in 2014 with Team Pelfrey, before shifting to sports cars later that fall, starting with Murphy Prototypes.

Derani excelled with G-Drive in 2015 before his star turn with ESM last year. This year, his schedule grows even greater, as he’s been confirmed with Ford Chip Ganassi Racing for the first three races of the FIA World Endurance Championship season, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, sharing the No. 67 Ford GT with Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell.

It’ll be interesting to see what Derani does on the Sebring short course in one of SPM’s Honda-powered entries. He’ll be back at Sebring a couple weeks after his IndyCar test, as he prepares to defend his win in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with ESM.