NASCAR notebook: Logano seeks
success in New Hampshire
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[July 20, 2019]
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
"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.
KYLE BUSCH FEELS RIGHT AT HOME AT NEW HAMPSHIRE
New Hampshire Motor Speedway may be a long way from Kyle Busch's
native Las Vegas, but the driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing
Toyota has developed a fondness for the Magic Mile and its environs,
dating to his days of racing Late Models.
[to top of second column]
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Joey Logano (22) talks with
a NASCAR official before practice for the Quaker State 400 at
Kentucky Speedway. Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
"I love coming up here," Busch said Friday at NHMS. "I've got a lot
of friends from the area. I've raced over at Thunder Road (Barre,
Vermont) before. I've race over at Oxford (Maine) before, so I've
been around this area a little bit racing the short tracks and
"A few of those friends come on over here sometimes and visit a
little bit, so that's good."
Then there's the racing itself at the one-mile flat track. Busch got
the third of his 55 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
victories at Loudon in 2006, driving for Rick Hendrick. He won again
during his 2015 championship season and once more in 2017, both in
the No. 18 JGR Toyota.
Small wonder Busch relishes his trips to New England.
"I enjoy coming to New Hampshire," he said. "This has been a pretty
successful place for us. We tend to qualify well here, race well
here. We've won here a couple of times. We've been kind of the car
to beat, one of the guys to beat here for about, I don't know, the
last two, three, four years maybe.
"Sometimes guys really, really hit on it, and the they're better
than us, (but) we're just always consistently good here. So
hopefully we can keep that pattern going at least and be
consistently good here again, but maybe we can hit on it better than
somebody else and try to win."
OUT OF HIS ELEMENT ON PAVEMENT, CHRISTOPHER BELL STILL SCORES TOP 10
NASCAR Xfinity Series championship contender Christopher Bell kicked
off his weekend in New England by stepping out of his comfort zone.
The driver who has won three straight Chili Bowl titles and grew up
racing sprint cars on dirt took a side trip to Thunder Road in Barre,
Vermont, to try his hand in a Late Model on a paved short track.
Bell was there as a de facto ambassador, but his expectations in the
race itself were somewhat lower than his usual standards.
"Ultimately, I'm just there to have a good time and hopefully draw a
crowd," Bell said on Friday at NHMS, site of Saturday's ROXOR 200
NASCAR Xfinity Series race (4 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM
"It seemed to work. There were a lot of people there. I just didn't
want to go in there and make enemies. I wanted to go in there and
have fun and put on a good show."
Bell finished ninth against a strong field at the high-banked
"Whenever I go sprint car racing, that's my bread and butter,
right?" Bell said. "I grew up doing that, and whenever I go there, I
expect to win. I wanted to win last night, but I just don't have a
lot of experience in those things. Expectations were just a little
(By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level
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