The Frontstretch: Matt McLaughlin's Driver Handicaps: New Hampshire Edition by Matt McLaughlin -- Wednesday June 27, 2007

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Matt McLaughlin's Driver Handicaps: New Hampshire Edition

Matt McLaughlin · Wednesday June 27, 2007


*2007 New Hampshire “1” Driver Handicaps *

Jeff Gordon – Gordon has three wins at Loudon, but none since 1998. In fact, his third place finish at NHIS last Fall put to bed a streak of three straight finishes outside of the Top 10. But overall, Gordon has thirteen Top 10s in 24 career starts at this track – and do you want to bet against a Hendrick driver at a CoT event?

Denny Hamlin – Hamlin finished fourth and sixth here last year as a rookie – and he has done well in the CoT races to date, making him a threat this Sunday.

Matt Kenseth – While seldom a threat to win, Kenseth does run well here. He has Top 10 finishes in eight of his last nine Cup starts at Loudon, and his overall career average in fourteen starts is 11th. He also won a Busch race here in 2004.

Jeff Burton – Burton has four wins here, with his most recent victory coming in 2000. That race was doomed from the start by NASCAR's ill-fated decision to shush up drivers complaining about safety by running with restrictor plates. Starting second, Burton made winning look easy that day, leading all 300 laps to score the first flag-to-flag win in Cup since 1973. Overall, he has eleven Top 10 finishes in 24 starts here.

Jimmie Johnson – Johnson won both races at NHIS in 2003, snagging Top 10 finishes in half his ten starts. But despite many good runs, Johnson hit a bump in the road here last Fall; a 39th place finish almost derailed his title hopes before they began.

Tony Stewart – Stewart has won here twice already, and would have won a third in his rookie season had he not run out of gas back in 1999. (Fans may recall that fateful day, as it was the first time we saw the petulant side of Stewart). All in all, this is a good track for Smoke, who’s racked up nine Top 5 finishes in sixteen career NHIS starts.

Carl Edwards – Edwards finished second in this race last year to post his only finish of note in five Cup starts at NHIS. He did finish first and second here in the last two companion Busch events.

Kevin Harvick – Harvick won at Loudon last Fall and finished fifth in this race last year. Overall, he has Top 10 finishes in seven of his twelve Cup starts at the track, as well as three second place finishes in the Busch Series here.

Clint BowyerNHIS wasn't kind to Bowyer his rookie season – he finished 24th and 27th here last year. However, he did lead 23 laps in this race one year ago before things went south.

Kyle Busch – Busch won this race last year and finished fourth in the 2005 edition of this event.

Martin Truex, Jr. – Truex averaged a 20th place result in his two Cup starts here last year as a rookie. That won't get your mug on a trading card – but Truex did win a Busch Series race at NHIS in 2005.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – Junior is averaging a nineteenth place finish at Loudon in fifteen career starts. As a historical bit of trivia, he suffered his first DNF in a Cup car here back in 1999, finishing dead last after ignition problems. He also finished dead last in this race last year after blowing an engine, a finish which threatened to derail his Chase hopes at the time.

Ryan Newman – Newman scored his first ever career Cup victory here in a rain-shortened event in 2002. He won here again in 2005 and has Top 10 finishes in seven of his ten Cup starts at NHIS.

Jamie McMurray – McMurray scored three straight Top 10s in the Granite State early in his career, but has been off his game at NHIS recently. In the last four races, he’s posted three finishes outside the Top 25.

Mark Martin – Martin has never won a Cup race here, but he does have eight Top 5 and thirteen Top 10 results in 24 starts at New Hampshire.

Kurt Busch – Busch won both Cup races here in 2004 and has finished second at NHIS twice. However, his inconsistency at this track has dragged his average finish down to sixteenth after twelve starts.

Greg Biffle – Biffle finished third in this race last year to claim his third consecutive Top 5 result at NHIS, a streak that ended with his fourteenth place finish here in the Fall.

J.J. Yeley – Yeley finished twelfth and eighth here last year as a rookie.

Bobby Labonte – Labonte finished second at this track in 2000, but has been off his game at NHIS as of late, with just one Top 10 finish in the last eight races.

Casey MearsNHIS hasn’t been the best track for Mears, who’s averaging a 23rd place finish in eight Cup starts. He is still looking for his first Top 10 result, never finishing better than 16th in his career here.

Others To Watch

Robby Gordon – Robby bumped by the “other” Gordon on his way to a win in the 2001 season finale at NHIS.

Ward Burton – Burton won a Cup race here in 2002 under incredibly difficult circumstances, as the track surface fell apart during the event.

Joe Nemechek – Nemechek scored his first ever Cup victory at NHIS in 1999. Surprisingly, only twelve other drivers who competed that day are still running the Cup series full-time.

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06/28/2007 04:27 AM

I don’t hold out much hope for Mark Martin finally getting his first Louden win this weekend; I don’t think he is racing there.