It’s not a record. But it’s close. And it’s unbelievable.
Over the course of the last 12 races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, 12 different NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have won. That just doesn’t happen, and conceivably it could extend to a record-tying 13 considering the list of drivers not part of the 12-in-12 (Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, among others). Texas Motor Speedway boasts the record, with 13 winners in 13 races from 1998 through 2007.
Brian Vickers hopes Texas retains that record come Sunday’s race at New Hampshire (1 p.m. ET on TNT).
Vickers’ win at NHMS last July was a surprise, to say the least. At the time of his victory, Vickers was running a full-time schedule in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and filling in here-and-there in the No. 55 Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing.
He’s now running fulltime in that ride, and with top 10s in each of the past three NHMS races, a repeat there would be a lot less surprising this time around.
It would also mean a likely spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, something that has admittedly crossed Vickers’ mind.
“I’d be lying if I said I haven’t thought about it, but I really just try to live in the moment and focus on the moment,” Vickers said. “And every single time I get in that race car, every single time I work with a crew I just try to put my very best foot forward and do it with honesty, integrity and passion. That’s all I can do. If that’s not enough on a given weekend, that’s just not enough. We’re focusing on winning and doing the best we can in practice, doing the best we can in qualifying and doing the best we can in the race.”
Here are the 12, 11 of which are running fulltime: Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle, Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, Denny Hamlin, Vickers and Matt Kenseth. Seven of those drivers are looking for their first win of 2014.
Four first-timers vie for Nationwide’s Dash 4 Cash
Regan Smith holds the NASCAR Nationwide Series points lead, and has 10 times this year. He’ll undoubtedly battle for a NASCAR Nationwide Series championship over the next four months.
But immediately speaking, there’s this: $100,000.
The top-four finishing NASCAR Nationwide Series championship contenders in last weekend’s race at Daytona – Smith, Ryan Sieg, Ryan Reed and Jeremy Clements – all qualified to compete in the first round of Nationwide’s Dash 4 Cash program, which takes place Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2).
The top finisher among the four wins $100,000. Each of the four drivers that have qualified for this season’s Round One of the Dash 4 Cash are first-time participants in the program.
“Being part of the Dash 4 Cash program is really cool,” Smith said. “We missed out on it last year and it was disappointing because I really wanted to be in the running for $100,000. It’s exciting. Nationwide does a great job promoting our series and the Dash 4 Cash adds a whole other level. As competitors we all want to win, but this definitely puts a larger spotlight on these next four races.”
Smith, seemingly, is the favorite. But statistically speaking, it may be closer than it looks.
Smith and Clements have each made three starts at NHMS, posting near-identical average finishes of 19.3 and 19.6, respectively. Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders Reed and Sieg will be making their series track debuts at New Hampshire.
The highest finisher of the four eligible drivers at New Hampshire will win the money and automatically qualify for the second Dash 4 Cash race at Chicagoland Speedway next weekend. Indianapolis Motor Speedway holds the third race (July 26) and Iowa Speedway hosts the finale (Aug. 2).
Sauter looks to continue trend of new Iowa winners
In its six-year history hosting the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Iowa Speedway has seen one repeat winner, Timothy Peters.
Johnny Sauter would love to continue that trend, and add his name to the growing list of winners come Friday night (8:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1).
With only three past winners (Peters, Ryan Blaney and Matt Crafton) expected to run the race, a new face in Victory Lane would be no surprise. Among the winless are two drivers with the highest active driver ratings with multiple starts at the track, Erik Jones (107.4) and Johnny Sauter (107.0).
“Iowa is a track that always produces great racing and we’ve seen some good finishes there,” Sauter said. “I’ve always run well there, but I’ve never been able to close the deal. In order to be successful at Iowa, you’ve got to get over the bumps in turns one and two to carry your momentum down the backstretch. If you can handle that, you can bring home a good finish. This team continues to be consistent week in and week out and although we don’t always have the best truck, we seem to salvage a decent day.”
Sauter has scored six top-five finishes in seven starts at Iowa Speedway, and at 36 years old he has nearly twice the experience of Jones. Sauter owns the best average finish of 4.9 at the track and is currently the series points leader.