LOUDON, NEW HAMPSHIRE - JULY 17: A general view of racing during the NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 17, 2022 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) | Getty Images
LOUDON, NEW HAMPSHIRE - JULY 17: A general view of racing during the NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 17, 2022 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) | Getty Images

NASCAR National Series News & Notes – New Hampshire Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: Crayon 301
The Place: New Hampshire Motor Speedway
The Date: Sunday, July 16
The Time: 2:30 p.m. ET
The Purse: $7,520,319
TV: USA Network, 2 p.m. ET
Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 318.46 miles (301 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 70), Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 185), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 301)

NASCAR Xfinity Series
Next Race: Ambetter Health 200
The Place: New Hampshire Motor Speedway
The Date: Saturday, July 15
The Time: 3 p.m. ET
The Purse: $1,226,689
TV: USA Network, 2:30 p.m. ET
Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 211.6 miles (200 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 45), Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 200)

Next Race: CRC Brakleen 150
The Place: Pocono Raceway
The Date: Saturday, July 22
The Time: Noon ET
The Purse: $757,274
TV: FS1, 11:30 a.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 150 miles (60 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 15), Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 30), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 60)

NASCAR Cup Series

An enchanting weekend awaits the NASCAR Cup Series at New Hampshire’s Magic Mile

When it comes to events on the NASCAR Cup Series 2023 season schedule that could shake up the Playoff standings as the postseason approaches, look no further than this weekend’s Crayon 301 on July 16 at 2:30 p.m. ET (USA Network, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Not only is the unique short track a one-of-a-kind on the Cup schedule, but it has also produced a large number of longshot winners starting outside the top-20, and for three of the last four winners at the 1.058-mile track the victory was the catalyst to earning their spot in the Playoffs – Kevin Harvick (2019), Aric Almirola (2021) and Christopher Bell (2022).

“I love going up to New Hampshire Motor Speedway, it’s been a really good racetrack for me in the past,” said Christopher Bell. “The track is really unique in the fact that Turns 1 and 2 are really smooth, 3 and 4 are very rough, it’s very flat everywhere but has a little more banking running up the track in lane two and three, there’s nowhere else in the country that’s like it.”

So, you’re saying longshots have a chance? You bet. A NASCAR Cup Series driver has started outside the top-20 and went on to win the race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway 10 different times (19.6% of the total races). New Hampshire is tied with Charlotte Motor Speedway for the third-most winners starting outside the top-20 in the NASCAR Cup Series (with 10 each); behind only Daytona International Speedway with 14 and Richmond Raceway with 12. The 2021 New Hampshire winner, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Aric Almirola, started from the 22nd position, and with 11 different winners this season New Hampshire Motor Speedway could very well stir up some magic and produce a 12th.

Heading into this weekend at New Hampshire, 10 of the 19 winners from last season are still looking for their first victory this year – Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick, Alex Bowman, Austin Cindric, Austin Dillon, Bubba Wallace, Chase Briscoe, Chris Buescher, Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones. Of the 10 drivers that won last season and are looking for their first win of this year, Kevin Harvick is the only former winner at New Hampshire in the NASCAR Cup Series this Sunday.

Harvick leads all active drivers in wins at the 1.058-mile track with four victories (2006, 2016, 2018, 2019). A victory this weekend would not only ensure his path to the Playoffs for the 17th time in his career, but he would also become the sole wins leader in the NASCAR Cup Series at New Hampshire, breaking the tie with Jeff Burton.

Whole lotta Magic in the Mile at New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Groundbreaking for New Hampshire International Speedway, as New Hampshire Motor Speedway was originally named, was August 13, 1989. The 1.058-mile paved oval is located on approximately 1,200 acres and the multi-use complex is the largest sports facility in New England. Speedway Motorsports agreed to purchase New Hampshire International Speedway from Bob and Gary Bahre on January 11, 2008, and then renamed the track New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The first NASCAR Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway was on July 11, 1993 and won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace driving a Team Penske Pontiac (105.947 mph, 02:59:45).

“I remember watching it sort of sprout from the ground and take shape,” said former NASCAR driver Ricky Craven, a native of Maine. “The speedway was exciting in terms of fans and became New England’s largest sport’s facility. …”

There have been 51 NASCAR Cup Series races held at New Hampshire Motor Speedway; one per year from 1993 through 1996 and two per year from 1997-2017. In 2018, the track reverted back to just one event per season.

The 51 NASCAR Cup Series races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway have produced 22 different pole winners and 26 different race winners. Rick Ware Racing’s Ryan Newman leads the NASCAR Cup Series in poles at New Hampshire Motor Speedway with seven (2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2011 sweep, 2013). Five of the 22 NASCAR Cup Series pole winners at New Hampshire Motor Speedway are active this weekend.

Active New Hampshire Pole Winners Poles Seasons
Ryan Newman 7 2013 sweep, 2011, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002
Brad Keselowski 4 2019, 2014, 2013, 2010
Kyle Busch 3 2017, 2014, 2012
Martin Truex Jr 2 2022, 2017
Kevin Harvick 1 2006

NBC Sports TV analyst and former driver Jeff Burton (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000) and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick (2006, 2016, 2018, 2019) lead the NASCAR Cup Series in wins at New Hampshire Motor Speedway with four victories each. Eight of the 26 NASCAR Cup Series New Hampshire Motor Speedway winners are active this weekend.

Active New Hampshire Winners Wins Seasons
Kevin Harvick 4 2019, 2018, 2016, 2006
Denny Hamlin 3 2017, 2012, 2007
Kyle Busch 3 2017, 2015, 2006
Ryan Newman 3 2011, 2005, 2002
Brad Keselowski 2 2020, 2014
Joey Logano 2 2014, 2009
Christopher Bell 1 2022
Aric Almirola 1 2021

All the on-track activity begins on Saturday, July 15 with practice from 12:05 p.m. – 12:50 p.m. ET, directly followed by Busch Light Pole Qualifying at 12:50 p.m. ET. Catch the entire broadcast of practice and qualifying at 12 p.m. ET on the USA Network.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell returns to New Hampshire to defend last season’s win

Last season, New Hampshire Motor Speedway jump started Joe Gibbs Racing driver Christopher Bell’s season catapulting him into the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. This year, the Oklahoma native, Bell, has already locked himself into the postseason, but would still like to win and become just the fifth driver all-time to win consecutive Cup Series races at the 1.058-mile track; joining Jimmie Johnson (2003 sweep), Kurt Busch (2004 sweep), Matt Kenseth (2015 fall, 2016 spring) and Kevin Harvick (2018, 2019).

From his first NASCAR national series laps at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Christopher Bell has had a knack for the 1.058-mile facility. He is one of just two drivers all-time to post wins in all three NASCAR national series at New Hampshire, along with Kyle Busch. Bell put up a NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series win at New Hampshire in 2017, then followed that up with three consecutive victories in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at the track in 2018, 2019, 2021, and of course, last season he won the NASCAR Cup Series race.

Bell has made three NASCAR Cup Series career starts at New Hampshire posting one win, and two top fives. His average finish in those three starts is a 10.3.

Seven Races To Go: Playoffs loom as race to the postseason heats up

When drivers and teams start doing the math, a Playoff appearance isn’t adding up for many unless they win over these last seven races. A total of 11 different drivers have secured their spot in the Playoffs with a win this season, leaving just five spots open on points as the series heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend.

Eight former NASCAR Cup Series New Hampshire winners are entered this weekend, and three of them are looking to lock themselves into the Playoffs this season with a win – Kevin Harvick (12th in the Playoff points outlook, +126 points up from the cutline), Brad Keselowski (14th in the Playoff points outlook, +100 points up from the cutline), and Aric Almirola (27th in the Playoff points outlook, -90 points back from the cutline)

2023 Driver Playoff Outlook Following Race No. 19 – Winless Drivers This Season
Rank Drivers Points Starts Wins Stages Playoff Pts Points From Cutoff
12 Kevin Harvick 530 19 0 1 1 126
13 Chris Buescher 506 19 0 1 1 102
14 Brad Keselowski 504 19 0 2 2 100
15 Daniel Suarez 407 19 0 0 0 3
16 Michael McDowell 407 19 0 0 0 3
17 Bubba Wallace 404 19 0 0 0 -3
18 AJ Allmendinger 394 19 0 0 0 -13
19 Ty Gibbs # 381 19 0 0 0 -26
20 Austin Cindric 369 19 0 1 1 -38
21 Justin Haley 366 19 0 0 0 -41
22 Alex Bowman 363 *16 0 0 -5 -44
23 Chase Elliott 347 *12 0 1 1 -60
24 Corey LaJoie 337 19 0 0 0 -70
25 Ryan Preece 326 19 0 1 1 -81
26 Todd Gilliland 320 19 0 0 0 -87
27 Aric Almirola 317 19 0 1 1 -90
28 Erik Jones 267 19 0 0 -5 -140
29 Austin Dillon 264 19 0 0 -5 -143
30 Harrison Burton 251 19 0 0 0 -156
31 Chase Briscoe 222 19 0 0 -25 -185
32 Ty Dillon 171 19 0 0 0 -236
33 Noah Gragson # 170 *18 0 0 0 -237
Note: Must compete in every race of the season to be eligible for the Playoffs or be granted a waiver by NASCAR (*).

Three drivers dancing along the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs’ cutline heading into New Hampshire, are Trackhouse Racing’s Daniel Suarez in 15th (+3 points), Front Row Motorsports’ Michael McDowell in 16th (+3) – the final transfer spot on points – and 23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace in 17th (-3 points) – the first spot outside the postseason cutoff. Trailing behind Wallace is Kaulig Racing’s AJ Allmendinger in 18th (-13 points) and Joe Gibbs Racing’s rookie Ty Gibbs in 19th (-26). All five drivers from 15th-19th in the Playoff outlook are within striking distance of each other with just seven races left in the regular season.

“New Hampshire has been a struggle for us,” said Michael McDowell. “If anything, it’s a bigger Martinsville. At Martinsville, we’ve had speed, but it hasn’t correlated to New Hampshire all the time. I will say this. Our short track program this year is a lot better than what it was last year. I feel at Richmond and Phoenix we closed the gap quite a bit. So, I’m optimistic about New Hampshire. I go there optimistic every year, but it’s no doubt that it’s been a struggle for us in years past. Hopefully, we hit it right this weekend.”

Looking to New Hampshire, Daniel Suarez has the best average finish at the 1.058-mile track among the five drivers along the Playoff cutoff, followed by Wallace (19.6), Allmendinger (22.3), McDowell (32.4) and rookie Ty Gibbs will be making his NASCAR Cup Series career track debut at New Hampshire this Sunday.

“New Hampshire is the last Cup track I’ve not competed at, and I’ve only been there once last year in the Xfinity Series,” said Ty Gibbs. “So, the short practice session will be key. It’s a challenging track that’s pretty flat, but I like the course. Hopefully, we have a good Toyota Camry TRD.”

NASCAR’s history in New England

Among the six states that make up New England (Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Hampshire), the NASCAR Cup Series has competed in four of them for a total of 118 races.

Tracks in New Hampshire
Track Name City Cup Xfinity Truck Combined First Year
New Hampshire Motor Speedway Loudon 51 35 20 106 1990
Tracks in Connecticut
Track Name City Cup Xfinity Truck Combined First Year
Thompson Speedway Thompson 3 0 0 3 1951
Tracks in Maine
Track Name City Cup Xfinity Truck Combined First Year
Oxford Plains Speedway Oxford 3 5 0 8 1966
Tracks in Massachusetts
Track Name City Cup Xfinity Truck Combined First Year
Norwood Arena Norwood 1 0 0 1 1961

Two drivers from the New England area worth watching this weekend are Team Penske’s Joey Logano, from Middletown, Connecticut, and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Ryan Preece, from Berlin, Connecticut.

“I always say it’s my favorite race weekend of the year,” said Ryan Preece. “I grew up going to the track with my father and grandfather. I had a lot of success here in the modifieds and it’s just a place I’m comfortable at. Driving in and out of the track each day still brings back a lot of memories. It’s a racers track, there’s really no place like it. Someone like me, I’ve had to fight to get where I am, and I don’t take any of it for granted and this is a place that helped me achieve my goals. There will be a lot of people at the track this weekend that I know from all my time spent there and it’s always just a really special and fun weekend for me. I’m really looking forward to it. I’m heading up early for some appearances and to see some friends and family.”

William Byron takes season wins lead, will make 200th career start at New Hampshire

Hendrick Motorsport’s William Byron skyrocketed to the NASCAR Cup Series point standings lead following his series leading fourth win of the season at Atlanta Motor Speedway last Sunday. Now, the North Carolina native, heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway with the wind at his back as he will make his 200th career NASCAR Cup Series start.

In Byron’s 199 previous starts, he has earned four Playoff appearances (2019-2022) posting a best finish of sixth in the final championship standings of 2022. Has put up eight career Cup wins, 34 top fives, 73 top 10s and 10 poles.

Byron will look to get his fifth win of the season this weekend at New Hampshire, a track he has a career-best finish of 11th (2022).

SHR’s Kevin Harvick looking for record win in final run at New Hampshire

Veteran Kevin Harvick announced this season would be his last in full-time NASCAR Cup Series competition making this weekend most likely his last run at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The California native is currently tied with Jeff Burton for the NASCAR Cup Series most wins at New Hampshire, and if he were to win this Sunday in the Crayon 301 (2:30 p.m. ET on USA, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) he would solely move into first breaking the tie with Burton and set the record for the most wins at the 1.058-mile track at five.

“It’s definitely a racetrack that we’re looking forward to going to, and I can’t wait to finally, hopefully, get to Victory Lane,” said Kevin Harvick. “After Nashville, having the fastest car and having a tire go flat, and Phoenix and a couple of the other places where it just seems like it all hasn’t come together, we’re ready to finish off a weekend with a win. My guys are doing a great job of putting fast cars on the racetrack and Loudon is one of those places that checks a lot of boxes for us to go up there and have a good weekend.”

Harvick is currently riding a winless streak that dates back to Richmond (August) in 2022 – 31 races ago. This weekend, the 47-year-old is hoping to snap the winless streak and lock himself into the Playoffs. He is currently ranked 12th in the postseason outlook up 126 points on the Playoff cutline.

“Flat tracks have always been really good for me in my career,” said Kevin Harvick. “When you look at SHR and the things we’ve been able to accomplish at Loudon and Phoenix, they’ve kind of followed that same trend. A lot of that goes back to that open test time we had at Milwaukee and Nashville. Those are the places where we would practice and practice and practice. Our guys have done a great job of having a good short-track, flat-track program, and Loudon is a place that has followed along with Phoenix and the success that we’ve had there and to be able to capitalize on that success and continue it at another track.”

Harvick has made 39 starts (series-most among active drivers) at New Hampshire posting four wins (2006, 2016, 2018, 2019), 14 top fives and 23 top 10s. His average finish at the 1.058-mile track is 12.2.

First-time winners happen at New Hampshire Motor Speedway

New winners are always a fan favorite, and this season we have already been gifted with one, when Shane Van Gisbergen took the checkered flag at the inaugural Chicago Street Race a few weeks ago. Now, the NASCAR Cup Series heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway, a track that is home to five driver’s first-time wins in the series; including Connecticut’s Joey Logano.

First-Time Winners at New Hampshire Date
Joey Logano Sunday, June 28, 2009
Clint Bowyer Sunday, September 16, 2007
Ryan Newman Sunday, September 15, 2002
Robby Gordon Friday, November 23, 2001
Joe Nemechek Sunday, September 19, 1999

Looking to this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, eight different drivers entered in the Crayon 301 are looking for their first career Cup win – Harrison Burton, Ty Dillon, Ty Gibbs, Todd Gilliland, Noah Gragson, Corey LaJoie, BJ McLeod and Ryan Preece.

NASCAR Announces Nominees for NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2024

NASCAR announced the 15 nominees for the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Class of 2024 and the five nominees for the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion duo Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus join the Modern Era ballot together in their first year of eligibility. Donnie Allison, an original member of the fan-favorite Alabama Gang joins the Pioneer ballot for the first time.

Ten nominees appear on the Modern Era ballot, five on the Pioneer ballot – designed to honor those whose careers began more than 60 years ago. Two Modern Era candidates and one Pioneer candidate will be elected as the Class of 2024.

Longtime NASCAR executive Les Richter joins the Landmark Award ballot for the first time after being on the Hall of Fame ballot three times before the award was created. The Landmark Award honors those who made significant contributions to the growth and esteem of NASCAR.

The NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel will meet in person to discuss and vote for the Class of 2023 and Landmark Award on Wednesday, Aug. 2. The 61-person panel remains unchanged from last year, apart from reigning champion Joey Logano who replaces Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott (both voted last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic delay). The 62nd vote goes to winners of a NASCAR.com Fan Vote (www.nascar.com/halloffame). The Fan Vote is currently open and will close on July 30 at 12:00 a.m. ET.

The Modern Era Ballot and Landmark Award nominees were selected by the Nomination Committee, which consists of representatives from NASCAR and the NASCAR Hall of Fame, track owners from major facilities and historic short tracks. The Honors Committee, largely comprised of all living Hall of Famers, Landmark Award winners and Squier-Hall Award winners, selected the Pioneer Ballot.

Following are the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2024 nominees and Landmark Award nominees:

Modern Era Ballot

Neil Bonnett, won 18 times in the NASCAR Cup Series including consecutive Coca-Cola 600 victories

Tim Brewer, two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion crew chief

Jeff Burton, won 21 times in the NASCAR Cup Series including the Southern 500 and two Coca-Cola 600s

Carl Edwards, winner of 28 NASCAR Cup Series races and 2007 Xfinity Series champion

Harry Gant, winner of 18 NASCAR Cup Series races, including two Southern 500 victories

Harry Hyde, 1970 NASCAR Cup Series championship crew chief

Jimmie Johnson, seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion

Chad Knaus, seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion crew chief

Larry Phillips, first five-time NASCAR weekly series national champion

Ricky Rudd, won 23 times in NASCAR Cup Series, including the 1997 Brickyard 400

Pioneer Ballot

Donnie Allison, ten-time NASCAR Cup Series winner, 1967 Cup Series ROY

Sam Ard, NASCAR Xfinity Series pioneer and two-time champion

AJ Foyt, won seven NASCAR Cup Series races including the 1972 Daytona 500

Banjo Matthews, built cars that won more than 250 NASCAR Cup Series races and three championships

Ralph Moody, two-time NASCAR Cup Series owner champion as mechanical genius of Holman-Moody

Landmark Award

Janet Guthrie, the first female to compete in a NASCAR Cup Series superspeedway race

Alvin Hawkins, NASCAR’s first flagman; established NASCAR racing at Bowman Gray Stadium with Bill France Sr.

Lesa France Kennedy, NASCAR Executive Vice Chair and one of the most influential women in sports

Dr. Joseph Mattioli, founder of Pocono Raceway

Les Richter, long-time NASCAR executive oversaw competition, helped grow the sport on the West Coast

NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.

NASCAR Takes Garage 56 Program to Goodwood Festival of Speed – A month after NASCAR’s Garage 56 car successfully completed the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the innovative program will return to participate in the Goodwood Festival of Speed Hillclimb in West Sussex, England.

Garage 56 drivers Mike Rockenfeller and Jenson Button will pilot the Garage 56 program backup car – which is identical to the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 that completed 285 laps on the 8.4-mile Circuit de la Sarthe in June – up the 1.16-mile hill seven times over four days. The entry will be part of a celebration of NASCAR’s 75-year history that will include several cars from throughout NASCAR history.

“The Garage 56 program has been an overwhelming success for us in further introducing motorsports fans from around the world to NASCAR,” said John Doonan, IMSA President and Garage 56 Program Manager. “Taking the Garage 56 car to the Goodwood Festival of Speed gives us another chance to bring the world of stock cars to fans of a wide variety of motorsports.”

The Garage 56 Hillclimb schedule is as follows:

  • Thursday, July 13, 2:30 p.m. BST / 9:30 a.m. ET – Mike Rockenfeller
  • Friday, July 14, 9:10 a.m. BST / 4:10 a.m. ET – Jensen Button
  • Friday, July 14, 3:10 p.m. BST / 10:10 a.m. ET – Mike Rockenfeller
  • Saturday, July 15, 8:30 a.m. BST / 3:30 a.m. ET – Mike Rockenfeller
  • Saturday, July 15, 2:55 p.m. BST / 9:55 a.m. ET – Jensen Button
  • Sunday, July 16, 9:15 a.m. BST / 4:15 a.m. ET – Mike Rockenfeller
  • Sunday, July 16, 3:50 p.m. BST / 10:50 a.m. ET – Jensen Button

The Garage 56 project is a partnership between NASCAR, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet and Goodyear – the winningest team, manufacturer and tire in the sport’s 75-year history.

NASCAR Cup Series Test at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Open to Media – NASCAR will hold a two-day test at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Monday, July 17 and Tuesday, July 18, immediately following the track’s NASCAR race weekend. Participants will include Christopher Bell (No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota), Harrison Burton (No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford), William Byron (No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet), Justin Haley (No. 31 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet), Ryan Preece (No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford) and Erik Jones (No 43 LEGACY MOTOR CLUB Chevrolet).

Sheldon Creed to make Cup Series debut with Live Fast Motorsports at Kansas – Live Fast Motorsports announced that they and Sheldon Creed will be teaming up with Whelen Engineering to take on Kansas Speedway (September 10th, 2023) in the No. 78 Cup Chevrolet Camaro. Creed will attempt to make his NASCAR Cup Series career debut.

“I’m excited to race a Cup race for the first time as that’s been the dream for a long time,” said Sheldon Creed. “Whelen is a great company and I’m appreciative for their support in allowing us to do this with Live Fast Motorsports. We hope to have a good day at Kansas Speedway come September.”

Sheldon Creed, from El Cajon, California, is currently competing full-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for Richard Childress Racing. In total, Creed has made 54 career Xfinity starts and 74 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series career starts. Creed won the 2020 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series championship and has won eight times in the Truck Series. Creed also won the 2018 ARCA Menards Series championship and has four wins in the series.

NASCAR Xfinity Series

New Hampshire Motor Speedway sets the stage for the NASCAR Xfinity Series

After an eventful race on Atlanta Motor Speedway’s 1.54-mile track that saw John Hunter Nemechek snag his third win of the season in an impressive overtime finish, the NASCAR Xfinity Series is heading to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Ambetter Health 200 on Saturday, July 15 at 3 p.m. ET (USA Network, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR radio) – the 18th event of the 26-race regular season.

There have been 35 NASCAR Xfinity Series races on New Hampshire’s “Magic Mile”, producing 27 different race winners and 20 different pole winners. Nine races have been won from the pole or first starting position, most recently by Kyle Busch in 2017.

Two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, Kyle Busch, set quite a few records at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in his stints in the Xfinity Series. He has posted the most wins (six), led the most laps (740) and is tied with Kevin Harvick for most top fives with nine each. He also set the track’s race record in 2009 with his speed of 111.925 mph and the qualifying record with his 2013 speed of 131.916 mph.

Cup Series regular Christopher Bell was on a winning streak at the track, snagging the checkered flag in three consecutive races (2018, 2019, 2021). Bell didn’t race in last year’s Xfinity Series, leaving space for JR Motorsports’ Justin Allgaier to post his first New Hampshire Motor Speedway win. He is the only previous winner entered in this weekend’s Ambetter Health 200.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers will take to the grid for practice at 5:05 p.m. ET on Friday, July 14, followed by qualifying at 5:35 p.m. ET on the USA Network and streamed on the NBC Sports App.

Drivers that make the ‘magic’ on New Hampshire’s mile

With time winding down before the Playoffs, all drivers, especially those who haven’t secured their postseason spot, will be sure to put on a show for fans as they race to the finish line this weekend. But there are some drivers who have an edge heading into New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

As the only driver in the field that has landed in Victory Lane at the 1.058-mile New Hampshire track, JR Motorsport’s Justin Allgaier definitely has an advantage, and will be looking to post his second win of the season to move up in the standings this weekend. In 11 starts at New Hampshire, he has put up one win (2022), three top fives and eight top 10s. If Allgaier wins this weekend, he will become just the third driver all-time to win consecutive races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, joining Kyle Busch (2009-11 and 2016-17) and Christopher Bell (2019-21).

Although Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer has yet to post a win at the New Hampshire 1.058-mile track in the Xfinity Series, he’s put up some good numbers. In his three starts, he’s posted one top five, three top 10s and snagged the pole in 2019. The 25-year-old driver also heads into the weekend riding a wave of 11 consecutive top-10 finishes this season. Plus, keep in mind that Custer won his first NASCAR national series race at New Hampshire in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series in 2014, and the win set the record for the youngest winner in Truck Series history at the age of 16 years, 4 months and 22 days.

Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Hill only has one start at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (2022) where he posted a seventh-place finish, but he’s done well on other one-mile tracks this season. He finished seventh at Phoenix Raceway and fourth at Dover Motor Speedway. He currently sits in second in the Xfinity Series standings just -16 points behind the standings lead. This season, Hill has amassed three wins (Daytona, Las Vegas, Atlanta), nine top fives, 13 top 10s and 236 laps led.

New Hampshire Motor Speedway: A place of firsts for many

New Hampshire Motor Speedway is a memorable and special place for several drivers as it provided ‘firsts’ in their NASCAR Xfinity Series careers. They don’t call it the ‘Magic Mile’ for nothing.

A total of 47 different drivers have made their first NASCAR Xfinity Series career start at New Hampshire, including most recently Julia Landauer in 2022.

  Drivers Date   Drivers Date
1 Julia Landauer Saturday, July 16, 2022 25 Mark McFarland Saturday, May 9, 1998
2 Dawson Cram Saturday, July 17, 2021 26 Brad Leighton Saturday, May 10, 1997
3 CJ McLaughlin Saturday, July 20, 2019 27 Kevin Grubb Saturday, May 10, 1997
4 Donald Theetge Saturday, July 21, 2018 28 Wayne Grubb Saturday, May 10, 1997
5 Scott Heckert Saturday, July 16, 2016 29 Bill Hoff Friday, July 12, 1996
6 Matt Wallace Saturday, July 18, 2015 30 Mike Cope Friday, July 12, 1996
7 Todd Peck Saturday, July 18, 2015 31 Jerry Marquis Saturday, May 13, 1995
8 Brennan Newberry Saturday, July 12, 2014 32 Jeff Neal Saturday, May 7, 1994
9 Brett Butler Saturday, July 13, 2013 33 Tom Rosati Saturday, May 7, 1994
10 Chad Hackenbracht Saturday, July 13, 2013 34 Andy Santerre Sunday, August 22, 1993
11 Ryan Preece Saturday, July 13, 2013 35 Brian Ross Sunday, August 22, 1993
12 Matt Frahm Saturday, July 16, 2011 36 Gary Clark Sunday, August 22, 1993
13 Kevin Swindell Saturday, June 26, 2010 37 Tom Bolles Sunday, August 23, 1992
14 Chase Mattioli Saturday, June 27, 2009 38 Babe Branscombe Sunday, July 12, 1992
15 Charles Lewandoski Saturday, June 28, 2008 39 Mike Barry Sunday, July 12, 1992
16 Danny Efland Saturday, June 30, 2007 40 Mike Stefanik Sunday, July 12, 1992
17 Eddie MacDonald Saturday, June 30, 2007 41 Glenn Sullivan Sunday, October 13, 1991
18 Peyton Sellers Saturday, July 15, 2006 42 Jamie Tomaino Sunday, October 13, 1991
19 Dale Quarterley Saturday, July 16, 2005 43 Bob Brunell Sunday, July 14, 1991
20 Ryan Moore Saturday, July 16, 2005 44 Barney McRae Sunday, October 14, 1990
21 Matt Kobyluck Saturday, July 24, 2004 45 Tommy Kendall Sunday, October 14, 1990
22 Tammy Jo Kirk Saturday, July 19, 2003 46 Derrike Cope Sunday, July 15, 1990
23 Mike Johnson Saturday, May 11, 2002 47 Rodney Franklin Sunday, July 15, 1990
24 Jamie Skinner Saturday, May 8, 1999  

Four drivers earned their first pole in the series at the New Hampshire track: Josh Berry (2022), Landon Cassill (2008), Jamie McMurray (2004) and Michael McLaughlin (1995).

Another two drivers have earned their first Xfinity Series career win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway: Bobby Hamilton Jr. posted his first Xfinity win in 2002 and 1990 DAYTONA 500 winner Derrike Cope posted his first Xfinity Series win in 1994.

NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs Standings: Nine to go, five spots still remain

With another win by Joe Gibb’s Racing’s John Hunter Nemechek last weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway, five spots are still up for grabs for the 2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs as the regular season only has nine races left.

The following seven drivers have already earned their spot in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs by virtue of their wins: John Hunter Nemechek, Austin Hill, Cole Custer, Justin Allgaier, Chandler Smith, Sammy Smith and Jeb Burton.

Currently in the eighth spot in the Playoff outlook is JR Motorsport’s Josh Berry, who made it the Championship 4 Round of the Playoffs last season. Berry has posted seven top fives and 11 top 10s this season thus far and is currently 84 points above the postseason cutline. Berry has made two starts at New Hampshire in the Xfinity Series posting one top-10 finish (eighth).

After a fifth-place finish last weekend at Atlanta, JR Motorsport’s Sam Mayer has moved up in the standings, now sitting in the ninth spot in the Playoff outlook +46 points above the cutline. Like his JRM teammate Berry, Mayer has made just two starts at New Hampshire, but his best finish at the 1.058-mile track is 15th (2022).

Kaulig Racing’s Daniel Hemric is next in the Playoff outlook in the 10th spot, up +41 points on Parker Kligerman in the first spot outside the Playoff cutoff (13th). The 2021 Xfinity Series champion has put up two top fives and nine top 10s this season, and if he can hold on to a postseason spot, he will look to make the Playoffs for the fifth-time in his career (2017-18 and 2012-22).

Richard Childress Racing’s Sheldon Creed slides in 11th position in the Playoff outlook, up +26 points on the postseason cutline. This season, the California native has collected two top fives, six top 10s and a pole in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Creed will be one to watch this weekend, he made his Xfinity Series New Hampshire Motor Speedway debut last season posting a fifth-place finish.

Sitting in the final transfer spot on points (12th) in the Playoff outlook is Stewart-Haas Racing’s Riley Herbst. Herbst is in his fourth full-time season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and is still looking for his first win, but that’s not slowing him down. Herbst heads into this weekend just six points up on Parker Kligerman in 13th – the first spot outside the Playoff cut line. Herbst, from Las Vegas, Nevada, has posted three top fives and seven top 10s this season. Herbst has made just two starts at New Hampshire in the Xfinity Series posting a top-10 finish in 2021.

Herbst closest competition, Parker Kligerman in 13th in the Playoff outlook, sits six points back from 12th, and Kligerman also has put up three top fives and seven top 10s this season. It’s been a while since Kligerman has run in the Xfinity Series at the 1.058-mile track, he made his one and only start in his series track debut at New Hampshire in 2013 and finished 20th.

NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.

Cole Custer heads to his second Cup Series start of 2023 – Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer, who ran a full-time NASCAR Cup Series schedule last season, made a deal to pilot the No. 51 Ford for Rick Ware Racing for three Cup Series races this season. His first race came last weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway where he finished 32nd in the rain shortened event.

Custer will join the RWR team again this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and will then wrap up at Pocono Raceway. He’s made three Cup Series starts at the New Hampshire track, posting one top 10-finish.

Rajah Caruth to race at New Hampshire – NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series regular Rajah Caruth will be joining Alpha Prime Racing this weekend for his fifth NASCAR Xfinity Series start of the 2023 season. He will get behind the wheel of the No. 44 Chevrolet.

This will be his first start in the Xfinity Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. In his previous four starts this season, he’s posted a best finish of 21st (Auto Club).


Heim Time for the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series

Through rain or shine, and everything in between, TRICON Garage’s Corey Heim battled his way into Victory Lane at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course to secure his second victory of the season and his fourth of his series career. The victory extends his NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series driver standings lead to 26 points over Front Row Motorsport’s Zane Smith in second, and has brought his Playoff points total to a series leading 15.

The driver of the No. 11 TRICON Garage Toyota held off repeated challengers on four restarts in the final 21 laps at Mid-Ohio and managed to edge reigning CRAFTSMAN Truck Series champion, Zane Smith by 0.947 seconds. Leading 30 of the 67 scheduled laps, the victory for the 21-year-old makes him the fifth multi-race winner this season.

Smith, who settled for the runner-up spot for the second straight year, had to start from the rear of the field after his team made repairs to the transmission in his No. 38 Ford, but managed to charge to the front through heavy traffic. Two-time winner and driver of the No. 19 McAnally Hilgemann Racing Chevrolet, Christian Eckes, ran a solid race and finished third.

This season, Heim is running full throttle he has put up two wins, six top fives, 13 top 10s and three poles. Heim has just two races left to close out the regular season – Pocono Raceway and Richmond Raceway – and win the Regular Season Championship along with the additional 15 bonus Playoff points.

Looking ahead to Pocono Raceway, Heim made his CRAFTSMAN Truck Series debut at the ‘Tricky Triangle’ last season, where he started 17th and raced his way up into a top-five (fourth) finish.

NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series looks ahead to Pocono Raceway

For the 13th time in NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series history, the competitors will head to Pocono Raceway next week for the CRC Brakleen 150 (Saturday, July 22 at 12:00 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, and SiriusXM Radio).

Known as the “Tricky Triangle” for its triangular 2.5-mile layout, Pocono Raceway has held national series events since the inaugural NASCAR Cup Series race in 1974 where Richard Petty captured the checkered flag, piloting the No. 35 Dodge.

Since the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series began racing at the famed track in 2010, part-time driver and owner of Kyle Busch Motorsports, Kyle Busch has been the only repeat winner (2015, 2018) at the famed track nestled in the Pocono Mountains. No full-time CRAFTSMAN Truck Series driver has ever returned to Victory Lane here.

Several current full-time drivers have experienced winning at Pocono Raceway outside of the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series though. A total of six drivers have taken the checkered flag at Pocono in the ARCA Menards Series: Christian Eckes, Ty Majeski, Zane Smith, Grant Enfinger, Corey Heim, and Taylor Gray.

Four of these drivers are already multi-winners this season and have locked themselves into the CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Playoffs – Eckes, Smith, Enfinger and Heim. Ty Majeski and Taylor Gray will look to grab their first victory of the season at Pocono next week.

Two races left to set the CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Playoff field

With two races to go in the regular season, the battle to advance is heating up. Here’s a look at the current NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Playoff outlook:

Locked In:

Six drivers have locked themselves into the 2023 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Playoffs by virtue of wins this season – Zane Smith (Daytona, COTA), Christian Eckes (Atlanta, Darlington), Carson Hocevar (Texas, Nashville), Corey Heim (Martinsville, Mid-Ohio), Grant Enfinger (Kansas, WWTR), and Ben Rhodes (Charlotte).

Currently in on Points:

One driver has built up a points cushion of +95 points over the Playoff cutoff following Mid-Ohio in seventh is ThorSport Racing’s Ty Majeski. Matt DiBenedetto of Rackley W.A.R. follows behind (+5) in eighth.

Two points above the postseason cutoff and ranked ninth in the CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Playoff outlook is Rev Racing’s Nick Sanchez. Following behind is the driver of the No. 88 ThorSport Racing Ford Matt Crafton, one point above the cutoff.

On the Outside Looking In:

Another 10 drivers sit outside the Playoff cutline but only have two more races to earn their way into the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Playoffs.

Halmar Friesen’s Stewart Friesen is 11th in Playoff standings, just one point behind Matt Crafton. TRICON Garage’s Tanner Gray sits 24 points off the final Playoff position.

Following Friesen and Gray is Chase Purdy (-49 points back from Playoff cutoff), Tyler Ankrum (-79), Jake Garcia (-77), Daniel Dye (-138), Rajah Caruth (-147), Taylor Gray (-147), Hailie Deegan (-154), and Colby Howard (-169).

Clinch Scenarios for Pocono:

Can Clinch via Points

If there is a repeat winner or a win by a driver who cannot advance to the Playoffs, the following drivers could clinch by being 56 points above the 4th winless driver in the standings. The same point requirements listed below would hold true if a new win comes from among Ty Majeski, Matt DiBenedetto or Nicholas Sanchez.

  • Ty Majeski: Would clinch with 12 points (14 if Matt DiBenedetto wins, 15 if Nicholas Sanchez wins)
  • Matt DiBenedetto: Could only clinch with help
  • Nicholas Sanchez: Could only clinch with help

If there is a new winner from Matt Crafton or another winless driver lower in the standings but still eligible to advance to the Playoffs, the following drivers could clinch by being 56 points above the 3rd winless driver in the standings.

  • Ty Majeski: Would clinch with 16 points
  • Matt DiBenedetto: Could only clinch with help

Can Clinch Via Win

The following drivers would clinch on their win alone:

  • Ty Majeski, Matt DiBenedetto, Nicholas Sanchez, Matt Crafton, Stewart Friesen, Tanner Gray, Chase Purdy, Tyler Ankrum, Daniel Dye, Rajah Caruth, Hailie Deegan, Colby Howard, Bret Holmes, Dean Thompson, Lawless Alan, Spencer Boyd

Can Clinch Regular Season Championship

Additionally, the Regular Season Championship could be clinched by the following drivers:

  • Corey Heim: Could only clinch with help

Sunoco Rookie of the Year battle trudges on

The NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Sunoco rookie class have traversed their way through 14 races. With just two races remaining in the regular season, let’s take a deeper look at where they’re sitting as they prepare to take on the “Tricky Triangle” in Pocono.

Leading the rookie pack with 386 points is Nick Sanchez, piloting the No. 2 Rev Racing Chevrolet. He posted a ninth-place finish last weekend at Mid-Ohio, earning him the Sunoco Rookie of the Race Award for the third time this season. Sanchez continues to be the highest finishing rookie so far with his best finish being second-place in Atlanta.

Following suit in the second-place spot in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings is Bill McAnally Racing’s Jake Garcia with 308 points. Garcia posted a 16th-place finish at the famed Mid-Ohio last weekend, and the driver of the No. 35 Chevrolet has also earned three Sunoco Rookie of the Race awards this season. Garcia’s best finish in 14 races is fifth at Texas Motor Speedway.

Hanging steady in third with 247 points is GMS Racing’s Daniel Dye. Dye returns from Mid-Ohio posting a 14th-place finish. The Deland, Florida native’s best finish so far this season is 11th at Gateway.

Tied for fourth and fifth are GMS Racing’s Rajah Caruth and TRICON Garage’s Taylor Gray with 238 points. Caruth’s best finish this season was a sixth-place at Darlington and Gray’s best finish was an eighth-place finish at Martinsville.

Rounding out the rookie class with 200 points is Bret Holmes Racing’s very own, Bret Homes in the No. 32 Chevrolet. Holmes best finish this season was a 13th-place at Atlanta Motor Speedway.


Kaden Honeycutt to join Niece Motorsports at Pocono Raceway – For the eighth time this year, Kaden Honeycutt will return to the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series, this time at Pocono Raceway. Teaming up with Niece Motorsports, Honeycutt will drive the No. 44 Chevrolet Silverado.

“I’m excited to get back behind the wheel and am extremely thankful to Al Niece and everyone at Niece Motorsports for the opportunity,” said Honeycutt. “We’re hopeful that we can get some more partners to come on board and make some more starts this season. I’ve been working at the shop the last few months, so I know how hard this organization is working to field fast trucks. I’m looking forward to Pocono.”

The 19-year-old Texas native turned heads earlier this season after several strong performances at some of the toughest tracks. He’s earned four top-15 finishes in seven starts, including ninth at the Bristol Dirt track and 10th at Darlington.

“Kaden has really impressed a lot of people in the Truck Series this season, so we are happy to have him behind the wheel of one of our Chevrolets,” said Niece Motorsports General Manager Cody Efaw. “Our team is working hard to build the fastest trucks we can. We visited Victory Lane at Pocono in 2019 and we’re looking for more of the same next weekend.