Is it just a coincidence that six current Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers share the distinction as three-time winners at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
No, says reigning series champion Joey Logano, who will try to add his name to the list in Sunday’s Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at the Magic Mile (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
“This race track is one that, for me earlier in my career, was the most frustrating track for me to go to, which always was awful because it’s my home track, and it’s where you want to run the best,” Logano said on Friday at New Hampshire.
“There are tracks like New Hampshire or Richmond or Martinsville that it seems like – and Sonoma is a little bit like this – but once you get something that works and the driver and the team understand what you need to be really good, not just in practice and not just in qualifying, but in the race when you have a long run or trying to pass cars and what traffic and restarts are, and once you figure out that balance, (you can be successful).”
In fact, New Hampshire is such a “feel” race track that, once a driver and team unlocks the secret, the likelihood of repeated success rises exponentially. That’s why Kevin Harvick could win in 2006 in a Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet and find success in both a Chevrolet (2016) and a Ford (2018) for Stewart-Haas Racing.
“You go through spells of capitalizing on things and having good cars and mediocre cars and circumstances, and I think that part of this sport is those streaks come and go at certain race tracks,” said Harvick, the defending winner at Loudon. “At RCR we had a lot of good, flat-track races at Richmond and Loudon, and we only won here one time, and I thought this was one of our better tracks.
“So I think as you look at different race tracks, I feel like we’ve always run fairly well here. I feel like we probably should have been to Victory Lane 10 times here, but you look at the results, and it’s just hard to win these races, but over the last few years it’s gone OK and we’ve been on the right side of it.”
Of the active three-time winners, Ryan Newman got his first victory at the Magic Mile in 2002, his rookie season. Jimmie Johnson swept both races at the track in 2003, and Kurt Busch followed with a sweep in his 2004 championship season.
“There are certain tracks that, when you find a nice setup, it stays hot for a while, and you’re able to use it the next time you come back, because not much changed, whether it’s been aero or the tires,” said Busch, last Sunday’s winner at Kentucky Speedway. “I remember in 2004 when I swept the two races here, the second race had a lot of weather issues and we didn’t get a lot of practice time.
“So, we were all forced to use the setup that we used at the first race. That helped us as a race-winning team to be able to sweep the races that year. It’s similar to Bristol. If you find that right setup, it works for a little bit.”
Or, as Logano said, you can develop a knack that can last for a decade or more, as three-time winners Harvick, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch have done.