Tag:New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Posted on: September 27, 2011 3:13 pm

New Hampshire TV ratings up significantly

Posted by Pete Pistone

The second race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup at New Hampshire Motor Speedway generated a large audience for ESPN:

From News Release

ESPN's live telecast of the Sylvania 300 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday, Sept. 25, earned a 3.1 household coverage rating, averaging 4,235,000 viewers, according to the Nielsen Company. The rating was up 19% from last year's New Hampshire race, which also aired on ESPN and earned a 2.6 rating. The telecast also saw double-digit growth in key audience demographics, including a 28% rise in the Male 18-34 demographic and a 20% rise in the Male 18-49 demographic. The audience also saw 33 percent of growth in the Persons 55+ demographic.

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Posted on: September 26, 2011 12:49 pm

Charting the Chase: New Hampshire

By Pete Pistone

A quick look at how the Chase for the Sprint Cup drivers fared in Sunday’s Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. 

Tony Stewart (Loudon: First) Stewart has that nothing to lose mentality going and it’s worked to perfection with back-to-back wins to open the Chase. There may be something to be said for not even counting yourself as a title contender only four weeks ago in terms of alleviating expectations. 

Chase Chatter: “We got rid of some dead weight earlier this week, so it made it a lot easier. It’s been a big weight lifted off our shoulders – just sometimes you have to make adjustments in your life and we did that and it has definitely helped.” 

Kevin Harvick (Loudon: 12th) Had fuel mileage issues that kept him from making a serious challenge for the front of the field. Certainly seemed to have a better car than the 12th place finish would indicate and the problems caused some tense moments in the 29 camp on Sunday. 

Chase Chatter: “Just not the day we wanted.” 

Brad Keselowski (Loudon: Second) Keselowski has taken a similar approach to Stewart and says he doesn’t feel any pressure to perform because nobody expected him to be in the Chase or stay in the title fight. But he’s shown no signs of being close to bowing out after a runner-up performance Sunday. 

Chase Chatter: “We did the things we needed to do.  We weren’t as fast as we wanted to be but we worked on our car, adjusted on it and got it where we could race with it there at the end and just had good strategy and pulled out a second.  We probably weren’t a second-place car but we worked hard and made something happen.” 

Carl Edwards (Loudon: Eighth) Avoided what could have been a disastrous day when he made unintentional contact with teammate Matt Kenseth. Knocked down another Top 10 finish to stay near the front of the Chase field. 

Chase Chatter: “We had a pretty good finish, but we didn’t have a very good day.  We struggled.  This is one tough race track, very, very tough.”  

Jeff Gordon (Loudon: Fourth) Team’s inability to get the entire fuel load into the No. 24 on the final stop wound up costing Gordon a potentially better finish. Led the most laps and had a fast car but was forced into a conservation mode down the stretch.

Chase Chatter:  “I’m just glad we finished fourth. It is tough conditions to race in. I don’t think that we wanted to see back-to-back fuel mileage races like this, but, it is kind of the name of the game these days."

Kyle Busch (Loudon: 11th) The former number one Chase seed continued his frustrating start to the playoffs with a day that ended up with an 11th place finish but didn’t see the No. 18 car competitive nearly all afternoon. 

Chase Chatter: “We got the car to where we were fast in the early part of the run, but we fell off a little too much as the run went along.”

Matt Kenseth (Loudon: Sixth) Rebounded from being tagged and spun by teammate Edwards to score an impressive sixth place finish and in the process keep his Chase hopes alive after his disappointing open in Chicago.?

Chase Chatter: “It was great, except for when we spun out because we lost some track position, but, overall, it was good. It was the best-driving car I’ve had at Loudon since they introduced the COT, so I thought it was a great day for us.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Loudon: 17th) Suffered through not one but two flat tires to squelch what had the makings of being a pretty solid day. Junior’s car early on was among the fastest on track but too many trips to pit road for issues ended his chance to compete. 

Chase Chatter: “We had a flat tire that cost us a lot more track position and I had another flat in the last couple laps there. Just didn’t hit nobody or nothing; just had too much camber or something in the front right.”

Kurt Busch (Loudon: 22nd) Day started poorly when NASCAR sent the No. 22 Dodge back through inspection just before the command to start engines and got worse from there.

Chase Chatter: “We were late going through inspection and that set the tone for our day.”

Jimmie Johnson (Loudon: 18th) A very atypical day for the five time champion that included an on track tangle with Kyle Busch as well as a heated exchange with crew chief Chad Knaus.

Chase Chatter: “I’m going 100 percent regardless of what’s being said on the radio. That’s all we had all day long.” 

Ryan Newman (Loudon: 25th) While teammate and boos Tony Stewart was celebrating in victory lane for a second straight week, a flat tire in the final laps robed Newman of a good finish Sunday.

Chase Chatter: “We just had a tough day. We had a couple of slow pit stops and then we had a tire go down at the end. It was just a disappointing day for us.” 

Denny Hamlin (Loudon: 29th) Came close to pulling a possible Top 5 finish out of his helmet with a fuel mileage gamble that ultimately ended with the No. 11 running out of gas two laps shy of the checkered flag.

Chase Chatter: "We've got to work through it. Another tough day for us, but we're just figuring out what we need to do to be a little bit more competitive."

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Posted on: September 26, 2011 11:41 am

Video of the Day: Kurt Busch pre-race problems

Posted by Pete Pistone

Kurt Busch's day at New Hampshire Motor Speedway didn't start very well when his car was sent through pre-race inspection twice by NASCAR, delaying the Penske Racing's ride from making it on the grid just prior to the beginning of the Sylvania 300. While there were no rules infractions found and NASCAR does not expect to hand out a penalty or fine this week, it was a clear message by the sanctioning body that was sent to the team:

Posted on: September 26, 2011 11:37 am

Around the Circuit: weekend web wrap

Posted by Pete Pistone

News, notes and nuggets from around the World Wide Web in the aftermath of Sunday's Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway:

USA TODAY - "Tony Stewart Makes it Two-for-Two in Chase Sprint Cup Races"

VIRGINIA PILOT - "Stewart Wins Again; Gordon rises, Johnson falls in Point Standings"

INSIDER RACING NEWS - "A Fuel Mileage Win is Still a Win"

MOTORSPORTS UNPLUGGED - "Stewart's Unexpected Turnaround Comes When Needed Most"

BOSTON HERALD - "The Climb Continues for Keselowski"

SIRIUS SPEEDWAY - "When Good is Bad"

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Posted on: September 25, 2011 8:10 pm

Stewart, Grubb post New Hampshire comments

Posted by Pete Pistone

DARIAN GRUBB:  It's just a huge day for the entire 14 team and what we've done to battle back from all the adversity we had in the middle of the year, like you brought up and reminded me again how we ran out last year with one to go.  It's bittersweet just because we had that last year.  But to come out this year, second race of the Chase, win the first two, we feel very honored and very lucky to have had two weeks go our way.           

KERRY THARP:  We'll take some questions for Darian.           

Q.  When y'all were in the doldrums, did you sense this coming or did you have no idea when you were going to climb out of this?           

DARIAN GRUBB:  It was one of those where we kind of had no idea.  We had a really good start to the year, had good racecars, fast racecars, chances to win, strategies to win, got beat over and over and over.  It beat us down.  Middle of the year we couldn't hit on anything that made it better.  Rode the same, didn't have feedback or anything that was positive.  Everything was just kind of there.            

The last few weeks we started getting better.  I think it was the same time at Michigan that Tony said we weren't Chase contenders even if we made the Chase.  I think everybody started taking an extra load, working harder, getting faster.           

Q.  Tony brought this up in Victory Lane.  Didn't make it clear what it was about.  He spoke at some length and said, We dropped some dead weight earlier this week and it helped a lot this weekend.  Can you explain what he was talking about there?           

DARIAN GRUBB:  I've heard a lot of people talk about it, but I haven't heard what he was talking about.  I know he went and did a lot of dirt racing and had a lot of fun this week, kind of unloaded everything.  Maybe it was a lot of dead weight off his mind.           

Q.  No personnel changes in the team?           

DARIAN GRUBB:  Not that I know of.  Maybe he's talking about me and I just don't know it yet (laughter).            

Q.  Can you speak to the success this team has had here this year.  You come here in July, you run 1-2, win the pole, win the pole again and the race.  What is it about this place that suits your style here?           

DARIAN GRUBB:  We're not really sure.  We have fast racecars from the time we started at Stewart Haas Racing.  We had good, consistent weekends.  Even crashed a car here at one point in practice, brought out the backup, started on pole, ran top five with it that week.           

It's just a good track for Ryan and Tony both.  Makes our job a whole lot easier at Stewart Haas Racing.  The drivers know what they need here, what the feel is they're looking for.  If they don't have it in Happy Hour, or even the times before that, they tell us quick.  We make sure we keep them filled in on what the weather is going to do for the race day so we can make sure.  Tony was excited when he saw the sun come out today and it got a little slick.            

Q.  Obviously this became a fuel mileage issue today.  Can you tell us where you were in terms of fuel at the end as opposed to a year ago.            

DARIAN GRUBB:  We actually were two laps to the good at the end this time.  I pushed the window from the run before longer than most people and pitted two laps later than the 33 to make sure I had a little bit of a cushion.  Had good fuel mileage today.  Tony did a great job saving when he needed to.  I semi cut him loose, wanted him to hang with the 33.  I didn't think they could make it.  If they did, I wanted to make sure he was close enough to make a run if they ran out.  He did a great job on that.  Didn't use any more fuel than we had to.  Had two laps left.          

Q.  Was he instructed to save fuel at any point during the last five to 10 laps?           

DARIAN GRUBB:  I told him to run fast enough to keep up with the 33 but don't push any harder than you have to.  If there's a chance you can pass him, go get it, then we'll go into save mode after that.  We weren't going to give up a good finish to try and beat him, but then again we weren't going to ride and save fuel to guarantee we had a good finish.           

Q.  Just the elation this team felt when they saw Clint run out.  Did you think he had enough to go to the finish?            

DARIAN GRUBB:  I thought he was going to be close.  He pitted two laps before we did, we knew he was going to be at least closer than we were.  If he was going to be pushing it that hard and still think he could make it, we knew we were going to be right there with him at least.  Our mileage from what we were doing that window-wise before that was a little bit better than what they had.          

KERRY THARP:  Tony Stewart has joined us.  He's today's race winner.  This is his 41st win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, obviously his second straight win, his third victory here at New Hampshire.  This is Tony's 16th top 10 here at New Hampshire in 26 races.  Good track record here.  He's the points leader by seven points over Kevin Harvick.           

Tony, just talk about another strong performance today by the 14 team.  You're two for two.           

TONY STEWART:  Yeah, it was definitely an awesome ending to the day for sure.  It was rough getting there.  The first two-thirds of the race I think we kind of hung around 10th or 12th, not by choice or design.  Just seemed like that's as far as we could get at the time.  We were in a lot of traffic.  Just seemed like a lot of guys would get stuck in traffic and kind of maintain position.  There were only a couple guys you could see that really could make headway and drive through.  It seemed like the closer we got to the front, the better our car drove.            

We may not have been the best car at the end.  Clint was just a tick better than us.  I definitely did not know he was in a situation to worry about fuel.  So the good thing is Darian told us we were two, three laps to the good.  I got to run hard all the way to the end.           

Seemed like when we got in the top five or six cars there, we had pretty good lap times.  Like I say, we weren't the fastest car, but we were solid and could maintain that pace the whole last 100 laps.            

KERRY THARP:  Congratulations again on the victory.  We'll take questions now.          

Q.  Tony, ever since you were on TV in Victory Lane, the buzz all around the track and Internet is wondering what you meant when you said, We dropped some dead weight earlier this week.          

TONY STEWART:  We're just going to leave it at that.           

Q.  Could we ask if that was -           

TONY STEWART:  You can't ask anything.  It is what it is.  That's all it was is what you said.  That's where we'll leave it.            

Q.  Darian said there's not been any personnel changes on the team.            

TONY STEWART:  No, there hasn't.            

Q.  Can you talk to the success your team has had here this year.            

TONY STEWART:  Loudon has been awful good to us this year for sure.  Ryan did a great job both of races of being fast in practice, getting the pole.  I'm not sure exactly how their day shook out, what they fought during the day.  But in the spring we started up front and we were able to stay up there all day, just keep working and chiseling away at it.            

Today was a lot harder run at it from 20th.  We just kind of stuck to the plan.  We never tried anything trick to get us up there.  We just stuck to the plan.  There was the one stop where about half the field came in.  That took us from about 10th or 12th up to 7th.  May have been four or five guys that pitted there.  It just seemed like we got close enough to the front at that point, that's when we finally got in range when we could do something and make some ground.           

We got back there with some cars that we just got stuck behind.  We got stuck around the 56, the 31.  It's all 'cause we're running the same speed.  It seemed like once we got up there in a little better air, we were able to take advantage a little bit better.            

Q.  What kind of momentum do you get from the two wins?  You're a confident guy.  Going into next week, what does this do for you?           

TONY STEWART:  It's huge.  When you talk about momentum, that racecar doesn't know anything about momentum.  It knows what you put in it, it knows how we drive it.  It doesn't know stats, it doesn't know anything other than just what's put in it.            

Momentum deals with people.  It's not just these first two races of the Chase, it was the two weeks leading before it, too.  We haven't finished outside the top seven now in the last four weeks.  That's huge for us.  It's huge for our guys.           

We've had one of those seasons up to the Chase where we couldn't do anything right.  I mean, we couldn't get it clicking.  We couldn't get through all the bad luck.  It seems like every week something would happen and we'd have to try to dig ourselves out of a hole the rest of the day.           

I'm hoping and praying that we're through that bad luck string now and things are hopefully going to click the next eight weeks.           

Q.  Darian touched on this, you said yourself a few weeks back you might be wasting one of the Chase spots.  I assume you don't feel that way now.  Did you see that coming, the turnaround, or was it a matter of time?            

TONY STEWART:  It happened in a week.  We went from five laps down at Bristol to running third at Atlanta the next week.  No, you don't see it coming.  It's not like we say, Okay, this is what happened, this is what's wrong, this is what you have to do to fix it.  Like I said, we just had really weird luck this year.  There's been races where we just missed it, couldn't get it happy, get the car happy.  There's been races where we've been a top five, top three car or winning car, something stupid happened, you finish 15th or 20th, you leave going, We missed an opportunity.            

The potential's been there all year.  You wonder when the bad luck string is going to stop.  You hope, like I said, it happens another eight weeks now.  We hope we're through it and we can keep clicking off top fives, 10s.  If we could get a couple more wins, that would be awesome.           

The thing about this sport is things change week-to-week.  The one thing I think our organization is really good at is taking what we're doing day-to-day.  I mean, we don't lose sight of where we're at today worrying about two weeks down the road.  We focus one day at a time.  Obviously, stuff like the chassis that we're going to run through the end of the year, Darian has those planned out, but we really just focus on the day that we're on, what we can do to make the most of that day.             

Q.  You talk about the bad luck you suffered.  You had some here last year in this race.  Given the bad karma, you're reaping good karma from the stuff you went through.  Can you speak to the irony of running this race, Clint running out of gas after you ran out last year.            

TONY STEWART:  Yeah, it's amazing that it's happened like that.  But Clint was one of the first guys that called last year and, as happy as he was he won the race, he knew how disappointing it was for us.  He was one of the first guys that called and said, I'm sorry about what happened.  You don't want to win them that way and you don't want to see guys lose them that way.  This is a sport that guys have a high level of respect for what happens and how it happens in this sport.  To have a win get away from you that way, it's disappointing for anybody.            

Sitting up here right now, we definitely know what it was like last year for him and can sympathize about it.  It shows the character he has.  He was one of the first guys on pit road to get to me and congratulate me.  He was laughing about it.  He's thinking about the same thing of what we're talking about, a how ironic it was that last year the roles were reversed.  Shows what character he has, he's a great guy.  Like I say, you hate to see somebody losing races that way.  You love winning, but you hate to see somebody lose a race that way.           

Q.  Tony, on the front straightaway where you look the lead, what was the technique behind that?  When did you decide that was the point to make your move.            

TONY STEWART:  I mean, I planned it for 280 some odd laps.  I knew he was going to run out of fuel right at that moment versus just driving through him and running over him, seems like it might be an easier option to turn left and run around him (laughter).  That was the strategy all along.  Just had to wait for that opportunity.          

KERRY THARP:  No follow-up for that.  We'll go ahead.          

TONY STEWART:  Wow (laughter).  And we were doing so good in here today.             

Q.  The comment you made going into Chicago about your Chase chances.  Stunning turnaround going from feeling like you don't have a chance, and now you have a pretty good chance.  Can you talk about that stunning reversal of fortune for you.           

TONY STEWART:  I wish I could say you could predict it.  I wish you could see it coming in the future.  The hard thing is, as much as it turned for us, you never know what's going to happen.  Like I say, we hope the next eight weeks go this way.           

The reality of it is you look at guys that are in the back half of the Chase right now, they're guys that a lot of people expected to be in the top five, top three in the points right now.  It shows that one or two bad days can put you in a bad spot pretty quick.           

As much as we want to sit here and beat our chest and be proud of what we've done, and we are proud of what we've done these first two weeks, we got eight hard weeks to go here.           

The celebrating isn't going to last long.  We got a lot of work to do.  I'm proud of our group.  I'm confident that we've got a group of guys that are very, very focused right now.  Like we said, the cars don't know anything about momentum, but the people do.  This is the perfect scenario to go into these last eight weeks, for sure.

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Posted on: September 25, 2011 7:54 pm

Keselowski, Biffle post New Hampshire comments

Posted by Pete Pistone

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Yeah, it's funny because 10 races ago, we left Loudon 23rd in points.  Whoever thought we would be third in 10 weeks.           

I'd like to see some kind of stat for that, that's for sure.  But it's been a good road here to travel down the last few weeks.  Today was no exception.  We weren't the fastest car.  I'd be lying if I tried to tell you we were.  But we made good adjustments to our car.  Got to where it was a solid top-10 car.  Drove up to fourth or fifth there about 100 to go, 80 to go, whatever that was, right in that range.           

That's what you need to do.  You need to make good adjustments on your car.  We were clicking on that, Paul and I, working really hard on this.  Still got a long ways to go on a lot of different things.  But proud of the finish we were able to get today and proud of the effort, for sure.           

We did get a little bit of help from the fuel mileage.  But, hell, we were going to have a fourth or fifth place today.  Instead we had a second place day.  All in all, I felt we were in the majority of our good fortune.           

Decent day.  Exactly what we need to do in this Chase, plugging away with finishes like this.     

KERRY THARP:  Greg Biffle, I heard you on the interview after the race, you said for once you had a finish as well as you ran throughout the day.  Congratulations on that.           

GREG BIFFLE:  Thanks.  It was a great day for us.  We've had a lot of good days this season, just not a lot of good finishes.          

It felt good to finish where we'd run all day.  I think the worst we'd been on the racetrack was seventh or eighth, maybe sixth, probably the worst it was ever lined up.  We ran from second to sixth all day.  Just stayed there.        

Wish it wasn't a fuel mileage race.  Think we had a fast enough car to catch the 33 and 14 possibly and race with them.  But real excited about the top-three finish.         

KERRY THARP:  We'll take questions.         

Q.  Obviously both of you were helped somewhat by the fuel mileage.  Do y'all think this was a fuel mileage race that sort of shouldn't have turned out that way in that the 24 car might have had everybody so covered?  Did that car look like it was the dominant car to either of you before they had their foul-up on their last green-flag stop?         

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  I'll let Greg answer because I never saw the 24 all day.          

GREG BIFFLE:  I don't know.  We were catching the 24 about a 10th and a half, 2/10ths a lap.  I don't know if he was saving fuel at that point.  The 33 and 14 were out there.  We were running them down.  I got within probably 15 car lengths of him and he just like plug checked it, put it in neutral, moved over, just started saving gas all of a sudden.  It was pretty apparent when he did.           

So he did have a good car.  I don't know if the 33 and 14 could have ran with him.  I think all of us in the right position, the top three or four of us, were probably pretty dang equal.          

But I'd say the 24 was fast at the beginning and middle part of the race.  I don't know about at the end.  Like I said, that last run, I was catching him, then he just pulled over and started saving massive amounts of gas.            

Q.  Greg, can you talk a little bit about, you're out there to win, it's going to take whatever it takes to do that, and secondly Tony Stewart is the first guy since you won the first two races in the Chase in 2008, can you talk about what kind of momentum builder that is for him?            

GREG BIFFLE:  It's certainly a helluva momentum builder to win the first two races of the Chase.  Like you said, we were able to do it a few years back.  It just means so much to your team, gives you so much confidence going into all the races, the next races.            

It was great for us.  I'm sure it's good for that team.  They'll continue to probably put down some good races.           

Q.  Yesterday in the final practice session everybody was working on fuel mileage stuff.  Has this fuel mileage and track position evolved into being something that's kind of gotten I don't want to say out of hand but it's become too prominent, too important all of a sudden?          

GREG BIFFLE:  Yeah, it's funny how every race kind of comes down to it.  But if you just take a little snapshot of our season, people think that a fuel mileage race is the last run of the day.  It sets up, you're going to be three or four laps short.  For us, we've had the new engine, we've struggled a little bit with fuel mileage as a group this year.          

What happens to us is on that green run, anytime you have a green flag pit stop cycle, no matter what racetrack you're at, that turns into a fuel mileage run 'cause we have to stop three or four laps short of the field and then the caution comes out and you're a lap down.        

So that happened to us I don't know how many times this year.  We were running second at Michigan, pit, came out, were a lap down, took a wave-around with 35 laps to go.  Just killed us.  We had to start 25th, got back to like 15th.        

Fuel mileage for us has been a big hurdle this year.  We've gotten really good here at the end of the season.  But really truly every race is a fuel mileage race if it has a green flag pit stop in it because who can go the furthest and if the caution comes out at that particular moment, it can trap certain guys.          

Look at the scoreboard, David Ragan is second.  It shuffles the deck when that happens.         

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  I just think every race has its own personality.  With this particular car and the way it's designed, it's going to lean towards this personality a little bit more.         

I don't know.  It doesn't bother me.  I don't think it's bad racing personally.  I know there's people that do.  I think for the most part the fastest car still ends up winning the race, not always, but for the most part.  I think if you looked at the odds on how many fuel mileage races there's been, I would say over 50% the fastest car still wins the race.         

Both Tony and Jeff were fast.  Tony ended up winning it.  Probably could have made a case for either one of those two being the best car.  But that's just not the way it played out.           

I don't know.  I try not to read too much into it.  I know there's been a lot of people talking about fuel mileage racing dominating the sport or being bad for it.  I still think there's been a lot of races that haven't been decided on fuel mileage.  I guess it just doesn't seem like too big of a deal to me.             

Q.  You both have won fuel mileage races.  I know this sounds silly, but do you treat any of those wins any less than the wins when you're able to blow people away?          

GREG BIFFLE:  Well, I mean, sometimes you can chalk it up to a fuel mileage win and sometimes you're leading and it comes to stretching it and you just make it, kind of like sort of what the 14 did today.         

Now, there's been true fuel mileage races where a guy is runs at the back of the pack, ducks in the pits with one to go, fills it up, that guy wins.  That's a fuel mileage win, when you're a 20-place car and you win.  When you're a top three or four car and you win, really isn't any different.         

So like I won at Daytona, which could have been a fuel mileage run, but really wasn't 'cause there was about 15 cars on the same pit cycle we were.  So we were set up.  Kansas, I was leading the thing.  I had I don't know how many second lead, 10-second lead, when a caution came out and it was too dark to go back green again.          

Just all depends on where you're running.           

Q.  You're not going to give any of your trophies back?            

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  No.  I only got one and I'm not giving it back (laughter).            

Q.  Brad, over these next eight races, you're third in points, could you kind of assess what you think the rest of the season would look like based on whether you think a lot of it is strategy or fastest car wins, either case?           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Well, coming into this race, I guess this morning I would have said I was really, really nervous about this one, knowing that we've struggled at the Richmonds and so forth, the other short tracks of this nature.  You could say we won Bristol, but I would say it's a lot different short track than a Loudon or Richmond or whatever.  It's a style of track we've really, really struggled on.  So I was really nervous about this race.            

But I feel like our best races in the Chase are going to be our last five or six races, to be quite honest, maybe with the exception of Texas.  We'll have to see how that one goes.           

So to me if we get through these first four or five, I think we've got a really good shot at it.  To get through Chicago with a fifth and here a second today, it's a huge boost of morale for my team and momentum for Penske Racing.  I just hope we can continue to capitalize.          

I think we've been able to capitalize with good execution on pit road, good adjustments on our car, not getting caught up in somebody else's mess.  That stuff can go the other way just as it's gone the right way for us over the last few weeks.          

I'm still very proud of what we've done.  We still have a long ways to go, a really long ways.  There's eight big races left.  Then, of course, you can throw in Talladega.  I don't think anybody can tell you what's going to happen there, so...            

KERRY THARP:  15 different leaders today, ties a track record originally set July 14, 1996.          

Back to questions.            

Q.  Greg, a follow-up on how you look at the Chase, what your role is as a non-Chase driver.  And can you talk about your relationship with your new crew chief and how that's evolved.          

GREG BIFFLE:  My role being a non-Chase guy is to try to win the last eight that are left.  As far as Matt and I, Matt and I get along really, really well.  I think he does a great job getting the cars prepared.  Makes really, really smart calls.  He's calm.  He knows what he wants to do.  He's got a decision made when the time comes.  He's going to be a really good crew chief and we're going to win a lot of races together.  Pretty confident.        

Q.  Brad, kind of the irony the last time you were at this track and where you are now.  The turnaround, people thinking you're a sleeper.  You said you made some adjustments at this track.  What kind of things did you tweak there?            

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Well, yeah, like you said, it's been a great turnaround.  We're 20 positions better in points than we were 10 weeks ago when we left.  So that's pretty cool, I think.  But it's been a turnaround because of hard work and focus.  I'm very appreciative for my team for that.          

This particular weekend compared to the last time we were here is no different.  We focused on what I needed to do better.  I thought that I could do a lot better job, hit on some things.  I felt like the car could be a lot better.  We might have got a little bit better, we certainly made some adjustments in the race that made us a lot better.           

It takes all those things to get better and get a result like what we got today.  As a team, that's what it means to be performing at a high level, it's to hit those things.  My team's doing that.

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Posted on: September 25, 2011 6:52 pm
Edited on: September 26, 2011 8:40 am

Speed Read: New Hampshire

By Pete Pistone


Sylvania 300 Recap

Call it irony, poetic justice or just plain old racing luck. 

Anyway you look at it, it’s a win for Tony Stewart.

A year after having victory snatched away on the closing lap of the Sylvania 300 when he ran out of fuel, Stewart returned the favor to Clint Bowyer on Sunday and in the process leaped to the top of the Chase for the Sprint Cup standings. 

“That is not the way you want to win it for sure,” who became the first driver since Greg Biffle in 2008 to open the Chase with two straight wins. “We’re in the Chase now and we have to get everything we can get. I feel bad for him. It is fun racing him. I mean, he had the better car there at then. Our only chance was to catch him in lapped traffic. Head-to-head, he was a little better than we were. It is hard to lose them that way…” 

Stewart has lost race the same way so there won’t be much time spent on feeling sorry for Bowyer.

But Stewart also won’t focus too much time on his lot in the championship race or his quest for a third Sprint Cup title. Although he’s off to the best possible start, Stewart knows all too well how long the road is to winning a crown.

“One day at a time like we’ve done for 31 years of our racing career,” Stewart said. “The philosophy of how to win races and championships doesn’t change from week to week, you do the same thing. It starts on Friday and you take it one day at a time.”

That approach has worked well for Stewart over the last month, as he’s put together a solid streak that first carried him into the playoffs and now has shot him to the top of the standings. 

“The last four weeks have been awesome,” Stewart said. “We’ve got a tough hurdle ahead of us next week at Dover. We really struggled there and that’s the one race in the Chase that I’m worried about most. So this is the best scenario we can have going into it. Our guys are pumped up and I am proud of Darian (Grubb, crew chief) and these guys. They never give up. So we are going to keep digging for these next eight weeks.” 

Even with a perfect Chase going, Stewart isn’t taking anything for granted. 

“We have eight long weeks still, man,” he said. “It’s way too early to being counting chickens right now.” 

He may very well be right. But at the very least Stewart has all his eggs in the right basket right now.



Brad Keselowski  

Refuses to fade out of championship picture and for the second straight week played the fuel game well to finish second behind Stewart. While strategy has helped Keselowski get the Chase off to a good start with two straight solid finishes, he’s also had fast racecars and the chemistry with crew chief Paul Wolfe is really starting to become one of the best in the series. 

Jeff Gordon 

One of those drivers that needed a bounce back from Monday’s fuel hiccups in Chicago and was able to rebound from a 24th to open the Chase with a fourth on Sunday. Gordon might have had an even higher finish but had to throttle back to save fuel in the closing laps. Speed not an issue with the No. 24 team but fuel calculations need to be sharpened up in the coming weeks. 

Matt Kenseth 

Like Gordon Kenseth had to have a turnaround from the Chicago frustration in New Hampshire. However it almost turned out to be a disastrous day for Kenseth when he was punted by Roush Fenway Racing teammate Carl Edwards and spun around just past the halfway mark. An impressive charge back to the front of the field resulted in a sixth place finish and a return to the title picture. 



Denny Hamlin

Came about two laps shy of redeeming himself after Monday’s 31st place finish in Chicago. Hamlin appeared headed to potentially a Top 5 finish until he came up short on fuel and coasted home 29th. His championship hopes were on life support coming into Loudon and the plug was pulled on Sunday. The No. 11 team will use the last eight races of the season to tune up for 2012.

Clint Bowyer  

Appeared on his way to a second straight Sylvania 300 win until the winds of fate intervened. After inheriting the lead from Stewart running out of fuel on the final lap last year to go to victory lane, Bowyer had the roles reversed in 2011 and a potential first win of a long season was snatched away by the fuel game on Sunday. 

Ryan Newman  

The July New Hampshire winner started the weekend with a pole-winning performance and had his sights set on at least a Top 10 finish on Sunday. But a tire went down in the closing laps sending Newman to pit road and out of contention. He wound up 29th in the final rundown and plummeted to 11th in the Chase standings in the aftermath.



(Choice comments and communications from drivers and crew chiefs) 

"If that's not a flip-flop from last year, I don't know what is.” – Tony Stewart  

“This is a joke. This is a joke. Again, this is a joke.'' – Kyle Busch 

"We're going to be a #&%^*& half a track behind when they pit." – Kevin Harvick

"I truly was doing everything I could to stop." – Carl Edwards after making contact with teammate Matt Kenseth

"We need to get ready to not be on stage in Vegas again." – Kurt Busch

“Just let me do my *##*(@ thing.'' – Jimmie Johnson to Chad Knaus about his “annoying” cheerleading



On a scale of one to five "Pistone Pistons" I’ll give Sunday’s Sylvania 300 a three. After a pretty sedate opening third business picked up with some hard driving and frayed emotions around the midway point. Then as has been the case all season no matter where the series races, fuel mileage and pit strategy kicked in and the intrigue began. Story lines were all over the place in the final twenty laps before the ironic ending of Bowyer running out of fuel to give the win to Stewart – a complete reversal of last year’s race – played itself out. Smoke has started the Chase in the best possible way and the championship picture is off to an interesting beginning 


“The Monster Mile” is next for the Sprint Cup Series as the Chase heads to Dover International Speedway for round three of the championship season. Jimmie Johnson flexed his muscles there in last season’s Chase stop as Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin waged war on one another. No reason to believe fuel mileage and pit strategy won’t again be part of the equation next Sunday and in fact I’d plan on that pretty much every week for the rest of the season.


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Posted on: September 24, 2011 5:03 pm

David Stremme leads Loudon Happy Hour

By Pete Pistone

David Stremme had the fastest lap in Saturday's final Sprint Cup Series practice session at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Stremme turned a lap of 130.644 mph to top the weekend's last practice before Sunday's Sylvania 300.

Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Burton and Kyle Busch were the first five.


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