FORD PERFORMANCE NASCAR: NEW HAMPSHIRE 1 NOTES
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is in Loudon, New Hampshire this weekend with Ford Performance and Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski looking for his third straight victory. Keselowski, who has won the past two races at Daytona and Kentucky, has one series win at NHMS (2014).
Ford’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway came in the track’s second year of hosting events in 1994. That’s when Ricky Rudd outdueled Dale Earnhardt in the closing laps to post his 15th career win. Rudd led 55 laps on the day, but won it after a memorable side-by-side battle with seven laps to go in which he passed Earnhardt on the inside, only to see the black No. 3 crossover and pull alongside for the next lap. Rudd eventually pulled in front and held on to take the Slick 50 300 on July 10, 1994. Rudd went on to post 23 NSCS wins in his career and had at least one victory in 16 consecutive seasons (1983-98), but none may have been as satisfying as this one because it marked his first triumph as an owner/driver.
Jeff Burton is the last driver to lead every lap of a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race when he did it on Sept. 17, 2000 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Bobby Labonte started from the pole, but Burton grabbed the lead after starting on the outside of the front row. Even though Labonte and Dale Earnhardt challenged him throughout the day, Burton never gave up the lead, becoming the first driver to lead every lap of a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race since Cale Yarborough did it in Music City USA 420 at Nashville Speedway on June 3, 1978. The race, which was run with the use of restrictor plates, ended under caution after Sterling Marlin was involved in an accident with three laps remaining. It was Burton’s fourth win at the speedway and concluded a stretch that saw him win four consecutive seasons at the Magic Mile.
Brad Keselowski had a weekend to remember as he became the first driver to sweep a NASCAR XFINITY and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, achieving the feat on July 12-13, 2014. Keselowski led 138 of 305 laps, including the final two under a green-white-checkered finish, to beat Kyle Busch to the finish line. The win was Ford’s fourth straight series win, marking the first time that had happened since 2001.
FOUR OVER TWO
A pit call by crew chief Todd Gordon with 53 laps to go proved to be the key decision in helping Joey Logano win the Chase race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2014. With Logano running inside the top-five for most of the race, Gordon called for four tires while most of the other teams opted for two. That put Logano 16th on the ensuing restart, but he quickly moved up to sixth 10 laps later when another caution slowed the field. Logano endured three more cautions, including a green-white-checker restart, over the final 30 laps to post the seventh win of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career.
FORD SPRINT CUP WINNERS AT NHMS
1994 – Ricky Rudd
1996 – Ernie Irvan
1997 – Jeff Burton (1)
1998 – Jeff Burton (1)
1999 – Jeff Burton (1)
2000 – Jeff Burton (2)
2001 – Dale Jarrett (1)
2002 – Ryan Newman (2)
2004 – Kurt Busch (Sweep)
2008 – Greg Biffle (2)
2014 – Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano