What 2 Watch 4 | Loudon : LENOX Industrial Tools 301

David PhillipsAnalyst IJune 24, 2009

LOUDON, NH - SEPTEMBER 14:  Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M's Toyota, and Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Office Depot Ford, lead the field to the green flag during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 14, 2008 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

What 2 Watch 4

The race to the Chase officially begins

With 10 races left until the Chase begins, Loudon is a very important track to have a good finish. Twelve to 15 drivers will have a main focus on winning.

Fifth-place Carl Edwards (No. 99 Aflac Ford) and 15th-place Jeff Burton (No. 31 Caterpillar Chevy) are only separated by 180 points, and it is possible if Edwards finished last and Burton, won Cousin Carl could be sitting on the outside next week.

Mark Martin (No. 5 Kellogs Chevy) and Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M's Toyota) have compiled the most wins with three a piece and could both be sitting on the outside Chasing the Chase after Loudon.

Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge) and David Reutimann (No. 99 Aarons Toyota) both have one win a piece and sit in 13th and 14th respectively in the championship points. Look for these two to be points racing all day long as they inch closer to the cut-off.


Points Leader Tony Stewart and teammate Ryan Newman the team to watch

Stewart and Newman have combined for four wins and five poles at the New Hampshire track. NASCAR's Loop Data shows both to be considerable threats at Loudon.

Newman looks to break a 51-race win less streak, and it would be the first win for Stewart-Hass other than the owner.

Stewart is of course the points leader, and Newman sits in ninth. Both will be looking forward to a trip to the New Hampshire area. This will also mark the first time Stewart heads to Loudon without Connecticut native and former crew chief Greg Zipadelli.


First race with improvments from Speedway Motorsports Inc. at Loudon

As we all know, billionaire Bruton Smit (chairman and chief executive officer of Speedway Motorsports) purchased the New Hampshire track from long time owners The Bahre Family.

This trip to Loudon will look a bit different as a new catch fence has been installed (3,400 feet to be exact) and it will be black in color around the 1.058-mile track.

The infield has been improved to add extra space, from 1.5 acre of useable space to over seven acres of usable space.

A new and improved Victory Lane will greet the winner of Sunday's race, and heck Smith even added a lap and made it the LENOX Industrial Tools 301, which could possibly go green-white-checkered with so many drivers Chasing the Chase.


Regan Smith goes for No. 50

Smith, the 2008 Raybestos Rookie of the Year, will attempt to qualify his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevy in Sunday's race.

Smith is running a partial schedule this season after running full-time in 2008 for Dale Earnhardt Inc.

Smith has four stars at Loudon. His average starting spot is 20th, and he has an average finish of 29th. His best finish was with Ginn Racing in 2007.

One miscellaneous stat about Smith, he has completed each and every race he has ever competed in. Smith goes for 50 straight races without a DNF this weekend.


Top 35 battle still raging

Even though Scott Speed failed to qualify his No. 82 Red Bull Toyota at Sonoma last weekend, he is still in striking distance, only 95 points to be exact. This is mostly due to the No. 34 of John Andretti's constant inconsistency.

Two other teams, Robby Gordon (No. 7 Jim Beam Toyota) and David Gilliland (No. 71 TRG Chevy) both are factors in this battle as well.

Gordon sits only 140 points above No. 36 Speed, and Gilliland sits only 167 markers behind Andretti. As the race to the Chase begins, don't take your eye off the race to make the race.

This weekend, 46 teams will attempt to qualify for the race.


Race Data

Race No.: 17 of 36

Track Size: 1.058-miles

Race Length: 317.4 miles (301 laps)

Banking/Corners: Variable at two and seven degrees

Banking/Straights: one degree