Forum Spin Doctor
- DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Ron Hornaday Jr. laid the foundation for New Hampshire International Speedway's reputation as a track with a flair for the dramatic.
Hornaday, winner of the first New Hampshire 200 in 1996, passed a number of trucks on a late restart and was in position to take advantage of a final-lap accident that took out the leaders.
"At one point, Ernie Irvan got into me and put me in the wall so my truck was pretty roughed up," said the two-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion. "I still have the sheet metal hanging in my garage."
Hornaday – and four others – on Saturday will try again to unlock another of the 1.058-mile, flat oval's secrets. There have been no repeat winners at NHIS; the same is true in the NASCAR Busch Series.
Why? Who knows for sure but Dennis Connor, then-crew chief for Jack Sprague when the three-time champion visited Victory Lane in 2001, has an idea.
"It's just different conditions there than about anywhere else we go so you have to be on your toes to adjust," said Connor, who now calls the shots for Terry Cook, the race's 2002 winner. "Most recently every time we go back, it's been changed...whether it's a different paving job or to put asphalt sealer on it."
Sprague has come closest to repeating – posting a trio of second-place finishes in addition to his victory.
"New Hampshire is right up my alley. It's a driver's track," he said. "The track owes me another win."
From the Archives
Crawford's New Hampshire 200 Victory Snapped Lengthy Ford Drought
The 2005 season hadn't been a good one for Ford – a non-winner on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in more than a year – until Rick Crawford came out on top of a tense, three-way battle to claim victory in the New England 200.
There have been a lot of closely-contested races at NHIS but this arguably was the best given the principals involved.
Crawford, 2005 champion Ted Musgrave and perennial title runner-up Dennis Setzer circled the track nose-to-tailgate and side-by-side as the laps wore down.
Crawford edged Setzer by .221 second.
"That was hard," said Crawford, recalling his fourth series victory that snapped a Ford drought extending to August 2004. "In the end, there was not a mark on my truck.
"When you go doorhandle-to-doorhandle with Musgrave (and) Setzer and come out on top, you've done something."
New Hampshire 200 News & Notes – Part II
No Wins in New Hampshire – Yet
Mark Martin will make his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series start at NHIS on Saturday. The season's four-time winner has yet to win at the 1.058-mile track.
O Brother Where Art Thou?
Kyle Busch hopes to follow older brother Kurt into the track's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Victory Lane.
No brother combination ever has won a series race at the same track. Kurt Busch won the New Hampshire 200 as a Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate in 2000.
Home Isn't a Bad Place to Be
It's homecoming week for Scarborough, Maine competitor Ryan Moore, a former NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series driver. Will familiarity help guide Moore and his Barry Dodson-led team to its first top-10 finish?
"Sure, it helps to know the racetrack and everything but it's not going to help if we don't have the truck driving the way it needs to drive," said Moore.
Bowyer Tosses His Hat in the Ring
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate Clint Bowyer nearly joined a very short list of drivers winning in their first series start when he led 84 laps of April's Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway.
Bowyer gets another chance this week as he drives Morgan-Dollar Motorsports' No. 46 Chevrolet.
All in the Family
Tony Hirschmann III, spotter for Terry Cook is the son of four-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Tony Hirschmann and a seven-time winner at NHIS.
This Week's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Leaders
Through 17 races of the 25-race season:
- Points leader – Todd Bodine (2,624)
- Winnings – Todd Bodine ($492,260)
- Laps led – Mark Martin (485)
- Miles led – Mike Skinner (655.792)
- Victories –Mark Martin (4)
- Budweiser Poles –Mike Skinner (4)
- Top-five finishes – Todd Bodine, David Reutimann (9)
- Top-10 finishes – Todd Bodine, David Reutimann (13)
- Raybestos Rookie Leader – Erik Darnell (32 over Chad McCumbee)
- Races led – Todd Bodine, Mike Skinner (9)
- Weeks in Top 10 – 3 drivers (17)
Crawford and Setzer are the only drivers to have competed in nine series races at NHIS. No driver has 10 starts. Setzer's 7.3 average finish is second-best among drivers with multiple starts at NHIS. Musgrave is the leader with a 6.0 average.
159 different drivers have chased $3.6 million in New Hampshire posted awards.
NHIS has yet to see a margin of victory of a second or more in 10 editions of the New Hampshire 200. The total margin of victory – nine races; one finished under caution – is 3.942 seconds. The closest finish came in 2002 when Cook edged Setzer by .189 second.
Michel Jourdain Jr. will participate in Sunday's Fiestas Patrias, the largest one-day Hispanic event in Las Vegas. The event celebrates Mexico's independence. Craftsman, Univision and Las Vegas Motor Speedway will provide hospitality for 500 VIPs and present other activities prior to the Sept. 23 Smith's Las Vegas 350.
Bobby Hamilton Racing announced Monday that 19-year-old Chase Miller will replace Timothy Peters in the No. 4 Dodge Motorsports Dodge at NHIS and Las Vegas. The Georgia driver won an ARCA RE/MAX event at Pocono Raceway this summer in only his second series start.
On The Right Track
NHIS Appeals to This Quintet
Five winners of the New England 200 will belt in for Saturday's race and that definitely counts for something – if only the odds of a good finish.
The five who will attempt to end the series' longest streak of different winners (shared with Homestead-Miami Speedway) are Ron Hornaday Jr. (1996), Dennis Setzer (1999), Jack Sprague (2001), Terry Cook (2002) and Rick Crawford (2005).
Setzer, Sprague Consistent as Well
Setzer leads all series drivers with five top-five finishes at NHIS and shares the top-10 finish record of six with Sprague. Sprague, meanwhile, has won three Budweiser Poles and is one of two to win from the No. 1 position. Jimmy Spencer is the other.
Maybe a Rookie Winner?
Two Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidates count victories at NHIS – Andy Houston in 1998 and Kurt Busch in 2000. Only one freshman competed in last year's race, matching the series record. Rookie of the Year Todd Kluever finished 28th.
"The setup we won with in 2002 would probably just barely make the show. It's ever-changing and an evolution." – Terry Cook on staying ahead of the curve.
"Loudon's a little of everything and it's a lot unforgiving. There's no room for the driver to make an error of any kind." – Todd Bodine
"I think it is a time for reflection for all of us. That will not necessarily make us better racers, but maybe it will make us better people and maybe that's exactly what Peter would have wanted." – Marcos Ambrose, No. 20 Aussie Vineyards/Team Australia Ford, on the passing of countryman and motorsports icon Peter Brock.
In The Loop
In 2005, nearly half of the green flag passes – 43.56 percent – occurred on New Hampshire International Speedway’s front or backstretches. There's a reason for that: the length of those straights give a driver an excellent opportunity to pull alongside exiting a turn and powering past before the two competitors reach the next corner.
How did this factor into Rick Crawford's victory? Crawford fashioned 67 percent of his green flag passes – 21 of 31 – on straightaways.
Turns 2 and 4 are virtually equal in passing potential. Turn 2 produced 17.44 of the race’s passes with 17.27 taking place in Turn 4.
Crawford ranked near the top of two key categories (see below). He was No. 1 in average running position (3.85) and No. 2 in Speed in Traffic (123.906). Ironically, second-place finisher Dennis Setzer was first in the latter category. Crawford topped the field with a Driver Rating of 132.1.
[SIZE=+0]Speed in Traffic
Driver Speed (mph)
Dennis Setzer 123.930
Rick Crawford 123.905
Jimmy Spencer 123.814
Ted Musgrave 123.701
Matt Crafton 123.568[/SIZE]
Ted Musgrave 62
Kyle Busch 58
Jimmy Spencer 48
Todd Bodine 44
Ron Hornaday Jr. 32[/SIZE]
[SIZE=+0]Average Running Position
Driver Average Place
Rick Crawford 3.85
Dennis Setzer 4.45
Ron Hornaday Jr 4.64
Todd Bodine 7.15
Ted Musgrave 8.61[/SIZE]
[SIZE=+0]Title Contenders at NHIS
Best Finish Avg. Finish Driver Rating*
1. T. Bodine 22 28.0 96.9
2. J. Benson 3 17.5 71.4
3. D. Reutimann 5 19.0 89.8
4. T. Musgrave 3 6.2 108.4
5. R. Crawford 1 14.9 132.1
* 2005 Race[/SIZE]
2006 Point Standings*
*Following Round 17 at Bristol Motor Speedway[/SIZE]
[SIZE=+0]All brands are winners at NHIS: