The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend for the Overton’s 301. There are 39 drivers entered into the event with only eight regular season races remaining before the playoffs begin.
Rusty Wallace won the inaugural Cup Series race at New Hampshire, the Slick 50 300, in a Penske Pontiac on July 11, 1993, after starting from 33rd place. It was his fifth win of the year but Wallace would go on to capture five more, giving him his most victories in a single season, with 10. It was his only win at the Loudon, New Hampshire track.
But did you know that the first race at New Hampshire was also Davey Allison’s final race? He finished third, behind Wallace and Mark Martin, scoring his sixth top five of ’93. The following day Allison lost his life in a helicopter crash at Talladega Superspeedway.
There have been 44 Cup Series events at New Hampshire, one each year from 1993 through 1996, with two per year since then. Twenty-four different drivers have won at the 1.058-mile track. Among active drivers, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman lead with three wins each. Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch are also multiple winners with two victories each. But did you know that Jeff Burton leads all drivers with four trips to Victory Lane at Loudon?
As the regular season draws to a close, capturing a checkered flag may be the only ticket into the playoffs. For Bowyer (15th), Kenseth (16th) and Logano (17th), time is running out. Kenseth is the defending race winner and after losing his ride with Joe Gibbs Racing in 2018, he may have the most to prove.
Winning the Coors Light Pole could be a key element in accomplishing that goal. Did you know that the pole is the most proficient starting position at New Hampshire? Five of the 44 races (11.3 percent) have been won from first place while another three have been won from second place.
Denny Hamlin could also benefit from a victory. He’s currently 14th in the playoff picture and he goes into New Hampshire with the best driver rating of 102.7 along with two wins, eight top fives and 13 top 10s.
Jimmie Johnson can never be counted out especially with three previous wins, 10 top fives, one pole and the second-best driver rating (101.0). Brad Keselowski has the third-best driver rating (99.3) with one win in 2014, six top fives and three poles.
Kyle Busch remains winless this year. Could this be the track where he changes that? He has two victories, nine top fives, 13 top 10s and two poles with the fourth-best driver rating (98.1). But did you know that he also has three runner-up finishes at Loudon?
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is another driver hoping to secure a spot in the playoffs with a trip to Victory Lane in his final full-time season. He has a 97.4 driver rating, the sixth-best, with eight top fives and 15 top 10s. In addition, he leads the way in green-flag speed (125.183) and ranks third in green-flag passes (1,242).
On-track action begins Friday with practice followed by Coors Light Pole Qualifying at 4:45 p.m. ET on NBCSN. The Cup Series Overton’s 301 will close out the weekend at 3 p.m. ET as we get one step closer to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.
In the meantime, check out this slideshow for some of the most memorable moments in New Hampshire Motor Speedway’s history.
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