Dr. Diandra: New Hampshire Motor Speedway facts and figures


New Hampshire Motor Speedway — sometimes referred to as Loudon after the town in which the track is located — hosted its first NASCAR Cup Series race in 1993. This weekend’s race will be the 51st.

Track Facts

The 1.058-mile track is the flattest oval NASCAR currently visits. The paper-clip shape provides two straightaways of 1,500 feet each, making the track 46.3% turns. The turn radius is the same in all four corners: 450 feet. That’s much smaller than the 741-foot turns the Cup Series ran last week at Atlanta.

The turns are progressively banked from four degrees near the apron to seven degrees by the outside wall. That means that the frontstretch at Las Vegas Motor Speedway has higher banking (nine degrees) than the Loudon turns.

“The straightaways are long at this track and the corners are flat,” Tyler Reddick noted. “It’s a one-mile racetrack, but it races somewhat like a short track with how you break the corner up and how corner entry is important.”

Air pressure is one of the most important tools teams have to help drivers navigate flat corners, along with shock and camber settings. The rash of tire problems has lessened as teams learn how to set up the Next Gen car, but everyone will be watching tire wear during the first few green-flag runs.

Although this is the Cup Series’ first (and only) visit to NHMS this year, teams can leverage information from Phoenix, Richmond and World Wide Technology Raceway. They’re even using the same tire combination they used at those three tracks this year.

Rodney Childers, crew chief for Kevin Harvick, adds Martinsville to the list of reference tracks.

“The paper-clip shape of the track and how tight the corners are and how much shifting is gonna be going on,” Childers said. “It just depends what the pace ends up being and what the grip level is like when we get there, whether you’re gonna be shifting once in each corner or twice in each corner.”

The rule prohibiting drivers from racing back to the start-finish line when a caution is thrown developed in response to a 2003 incident at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Dale Jarrett stalled on the frontstretch, in front of cars racing for position. Starting with the next race, NASCAR froze the field at the moment of the caution, and instituted the free-pass rule.

New Hampshire does not have lights. Original owner Bob Bahre signed a legal agreement with the town of Loudon that he would not install lights. That agreement stands, even though Speedway Motorsports now owns the track.

Race Facts

Winning the pole at NHMS historically doesn’t provide much advantage for winning the race. Jeff Gordon was the first NHMS polesitter to find victory lane in 1998. The sixth, and most recent driver, to win from the pole was Kyle Busch in 2017.

The eventual race winner started outside the top 10 in five out of the the last seven races where qualifying was held. Only once has a driver won a Cup Series race at NHMS after having to start from the rear of the field: Robby Gordon, in 2001.

Kevin Harvick and Rodney Childers both have four wins at NHMS, but only three are with each other. Harvick won with Todd Berrier in 2006, while Childers won in 2013 with Brian Vickers.

Harvick shares the record for NHMS wins with Jeff Burton, but Childers holds the crew chief record alone. Ray Evernham, Frank Stoddard, Greg Zipadelli, Chad Knaus and Jason Ratcliff each have three wins. All but Zipadelli’s wins were with the same driver. If Harvick wins at New Hampshire, he and Childers will have the most wins by a single driver/crew chief pair.

Among active drivers, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin each have three wins at NHMS.

Joey Logano is the youngest winner at NHMS (2009; 19.1 years old). The youngest driver in Sunday’s field is Harrison Burton at 21.78 years old, so that record won’t be broken this year.

Neither will the record for oldest winner, which is held by Mark Martin (2009; 50.7 years old). The oldest driver in Sunday’s field is Kevin Harvick at 46.6 years old.

A comeback track for older drivers?

But here’s a record that might be broken: Since the spring 2015 race, no driver younger than 30 has won at New Hampshire. The average age of the last nine winners is 38.3 years.

Younger drivers have numbers and recent history on their side. Of the 36-man field for Sunday’s race, 19 drivers (52.7% ) are under 30. The average age of 2022 race winners is 30.6 years.

A bar chart showing the average age of winners by race.

While the average age of winning drivers had been mostly rising, it’s started downward recently. The last five 2022 winners have an average age of 28.4 years. The average age of the last three winners is 26.6 years.

On the other hand, the drivers with the best finishing averages in the last three races at NHMS are Kevin Harvick (4.00), Denny Hamlin (4.67), and Brad Keselowski (4.67). The highest under-30 driver on the list is seventh: Ryan Blaney has an average finishing position of 9.67.

As my colleague Dustin Long noted, Harvick finished sixth in Phoenix and second at Richmond. He ran well at World Wide Technology Raceway until a mechanical failure.

Not only is NHMS one of Childers’ favorite tracks, he feels like the team has made progress recently.

“I think the key was Nashville,” Childers said, “and being able to run with the good cars all night and have a really good race. I hope that was a turning point for us and we can keep moving forward from there.”

Fun Facts

Milo the Moose is the track’s mascot. Milo’s name comes from NHMS being a mile oval. Moose are the largest members of the deer family. According to the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, moose are the largest land mammal in the state. A mature bull moose’s antlers have a spread of about 79 inches – just a little bigger than Austin Cindric, who stands 76 inches tall.

The adverb “wicked” isn’t exclusive to New Hampshire. It’s used around much of New England, but not to indicate evil. It means, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “to an extreme or impressive degree.”

While you might guess that the origin of “wicked” relates to New England’s history with witches, it’s really a late-20th-century development. The word is unusual because it is still used primarily in New England, whereas most once-regional words have spread across the country.

NASCAR Awards to air at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on Peacock


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Joey Logano didn’t need much time to answer the question.

Who would the two-time Cup champion want to introduce him at the NASCAR Awards?

Racing icon Mario Andretti, Logano immediately said. 

And there was Andretti on the stage at the Music City Center introducing Logano, the 2022 Cup champion. Watch that and the rest of the night’s festivities at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on Peacock. You can order Peacock here.

MORE: See the red carpet scene

MORE: Sport shows support for Gibbs family at NASCAR Awards

NBC Sports’ Marty Snider and Kim Coon co-hosted the show along with Fox Sports’ Kaitlyn Vincie. The Cup, Xfinity and Truck champions were honored. Xfinity champion Ty Gibbs, whose father died hours after Gibbs won the Xfinity title last month, received a standing ovation and thanked the industry for its support.

The highlight of the night for Logano was having Andretti on stage to introduce him.

“He’s just been a great role model for me, not only as a racer, but as a person for so long,” Logano said afterward. “I had his picture on my wall. I looked at Mario Andretti before I went to sleep every night as a kid. I thought it was the coolest thing that he signed it to me.”

NASCAR Awards and Champion Celebration
Cup champion Joey Logano on stage with racing icon Mario Andretti during the NASCAR Awards in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Logano and Andretti have gotten to know each other through the years. Logano ran a throwback car that honored Andretti at Darlington Raceway in 2015 and 2021.

But none of that compared to being on stage with Andretti.

“That’s still like a pinch-me moment,” Logano said. “It’s Mario Andretti. He’s the man. The fact that he knows my name I think is really, really cool.”

Catch the NASCAR Awards at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on Peacock

Sport shows support for Gibbs family at NASCAR Awards


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The NASCAR community showed its support Thursday at the NASCAR Awards for the Gibbs family, grieving the death of Coy Gibbs on Nov. 6. 

During his interview on stage, car owner Joe Gibbs thanked the NASCAR industry for its support. (The NASCAR Awards show airs at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on Peacock).

Coy Gibbs, son of Joe Gibbs and father of Xfinity champion Ty Gibbs, died hours after seeing Ty Gibbs win the series title last month at Phoenix Raceway. Coy Gibbs, 49, was the vice chairman and chief operating officer at Joe Gibbs Racing.

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR chief operating officer, introduced Ty Gibbs at the NASCAR Awards and noted that “everyone gathered tonight is all a part of the NASCAR family, and I know I speak for everyone that the entire NASCAR family is 100% percent behind this young man.”

Ty Gibbs received a standing ovation.

“Thank you,” he told the crowd, “that means a lot.”

Ty Gibbs spoke for less than a minute, thanking his team, sponsors, fans and the NASCAR community.

He closed his speech by saying “And thanks to my family. I love you. I hope everybody has a great offseason. Enjoy it. Thank you for all the support. Thank you for all the claps. I really appreciate it.”

Ty Gibbs spoke to the media earlier Thursday. Asked how he was doing, he said: “I’ve been doing good. Thank you for asking and definitely appreciate you guys. We’ve been doing good, doing a lot of stuff this week. … It’s been fun to experience this stuff.”

Asked about Joe Gibbs addressing the organization after Coy’s death, Ty Gibbs politely said: “For right now, I’m not going to touch on any of that subject at all. I’m just going to stick with all the racing questions and go from there.”

Cup champion Joey Logano said he spent time with 20-year-old Ty Gibbs on Wednesday at the champion’s dinner.

Logano said he told Ty Gibbs that “we’re here for you. You need something reach out.”

Brennan Poole joins Bayley Currey at JD Motorsports for 2023


Brennan Poole will join Bayley Currey at JD Motorsports for the 2023 NASCAR Xfinity season, the team announced Friday.

Poole will drive the No. 6 car for the full season. Currey returns to the team’s No. 4 car for the season. Currey scored five top-15 finishes last season for the organization.

JD Motorsports is planning to run the No. 0 car next season. No driver or sponsor has been announced for that ride.

“We’re full throttle here and getting ready to go,” Davis said in a statement from the team. “Bayley and Brennan are signed on and looking forward to chasing races and points next year. We’re actively moving along looking for sponsor commitments and for drivers and sponsors for the No. 0 car.”

“We’ve always taken the approach here that we want to go after the series with multiple cars, and that’s how we’re looking toward 2023. The new schedule is very interesting and provides new challenges to our drivers and team members.”

The 2023 Xfinity season begins Feb. 18 at Daytona International Speedway.

Friday 5: Will Kyle Busch become NASCAR’s Tom Brady, Peyton Manning?


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The weight of an unfulfilled season, deciding where he’d race in 2023 and the impact on his Truck Series team are off Kyle Busch.

It’s back to racing for the two-time Cup champion, who seeks to reignite his career at Richard Childress Racing this season.

Busch performed his final duty representing Joe Gibbs Racing at Thursday’s NASCAR Awards (show airs at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on Peacock) and it’s now all about helping RCR win its first Cup championship since 1994.

MORE: NASCAR Awards red carpet scene

Busch will be with Richard Childress Racing this weekend at Circuit of the Americas for World Racing League endurance events. Busch said the team has turned an old Cup car into an endurance car for the event. Last year, RCR won an eight-hour endurance race there with Austin Dillon, Tyler Reddick and Kaz Grala.

Busch seeks better fortunes at RCR than what he’s had recently at Joe Gibbs Racing.

He has one Cup win in his last 53 starts — 14 drivers have won more races than Busch in that span, dating back to the July 2021 race at Road America.

His 17 top-10 finishes this past season were his fewest since scoring 16 top 10s in 2015. 

He was running at the finish in 29 of 36 points races — the first time he’s been running at the finish in fewer than 30 races since 2015. Two blown engines in the opening round of the playoffs led to failing to advance to the second round for the first time in his career. 

“It’s obviously been a challenging, not just this year, but the last little while,” Busch said Thursday at the Music City Center. “So, it’s kind of maybe a blessing in disguise, honestly, where it might just be time for a fresh start, time for something new, time for something different.”

He looks to future NFL Hall of Fame quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning for inspiration.

Brady won six Super Bowls with the New England Patriots before  joining Tampa Bay and winning a Super Bowl in his first season with the Buccaneers.

Manning won a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts before joining the Denver Broncos and winning a Super Bowl there in his final season in the NFL.

“I’m kind of looking at it as a Tom Brady, Peyton Manning aspect where they left great teams, great organizations where they won championships and they were able to win a championship somewhere else,” Busch said. “I’d like to think I still have that opportunity to be able to do that at RCR.

“I look at the opportunity with the new Next Gen race car as an easier move to make now with that vs. years past with previous generation cars.”

He says that because with the previous generation of cars, there was a greater separation between teams because NASCAR did not regulate as much of the car. With the the Next Gen car, teams have the same parts. Two-time Cup champion Joey Logano that his team still has much to learn about the car and maximizing setups. 

Even with his struggles at the end of his tenure at Joe Gibbs Racing, Busch says he doesn’t go to RCR with a chip on his shoulder. 

“I don’t think I have anything to prove or I need to have a chip on my shoulder,” Busch said. “I just want to go out there and run well again. … I felt like we had a lot of strong runs this year. There were like six races I can count that we could’ve, would’ve, should’ve won and we didn’t whip is very frustrating. 

“We were so good at giving them away that I need to get back to I’m so good at stealing them and earning them.”

2. Special delivery 

Among the perks with winning a Cup title is getting the Champion’s Journal. Jimmie Johnson started the tradition after his 2010 championship. The existence of the journal remained a secret until 2017 when Johnson posted a picture on social media of him handing the journal to Martin Truex Jr.

The journal passes from champion to champion with the current champion holding on to it for a year and adding an entry for the next champion before handing it to them. Logano will receive the journal from Kyle Larson. 

“I can’t wait to read it again,” Logano said before Thursday’s NASCAR Awards. “I’m telling you, it’s probably one of the coolest things. Jimmie deserves all of the credit for coming up with the idea. 

“I wish it started sooner. It’s so interesting. Some drivers are very detailed what they write to the next champion and some are kind of quick and simple. It’s very interesting to read it. It’s cool. It’s a real secret. It’s kind of like an unwritten rule, you can’t take pictures of it and post it. It’s a thing that only the championship drivers know and have read and seen.

“Every time I get it, I’m so nervous. I’m like don’t spill anything on this thing, don’t lose it. It would suck to be the guy that loses that. That would be bad. I’m putting it right in the safe.”

Logano won his first Cup title in 2018. He then gave the journal to Kyle Busch, the 2019 series champion.

“It’s something you put a lot of thought into, at least I did,” Logano said of what he penned. “I wrote a letter to Kyle. You put a lot of thought into it. It’s something that will be there as long as our sport is around. I hope so at least. It’s a really great tradition.”

3. Fun factor 

The day of last year’s NASCAR Awards, William Byron said he wanted compete in more races outside NASCAR in 2022. 

Byron, who seeks to make Sunday’s prestigious Snowball Derby Super Late Model race, has fulfilled his goal, winning, gaining confidence but also having fun.

“What I got out of it was immediate fun, sort of relief,” Byron said of racing various Super Late Model races this year. “It was not racing the Cup car. It was different. It was not as stressful working with the team and things like that because there’s not as much on the line. There’s still prize money and things, and honestly you’re there to have fun. I enjoyed that.

“As I got going in it, I realized how productive it really was for me to do it, how much I was learning. As I did it more often throughout the season, I learned little nuances that were helping me get back in the Cup car with a better skill set.”

That element of fun stood out to Byron. Cup racing is full of pressure with the multi-million dollar sponsors, expectations to win and all the people at the shop relying on the car’s performance. That’s significant pressure, on top of what any driver puts on themself.

“There’s a lot of guys that you are trying to provide for and do a good job for,” Byron said of Cup racing. “There is a weight to that. You want to perform for those guys that work non-stop at the shop. There’s just a much broader net that you are casting as a driver. Whenever you go to the short track level, it’s you and six to 10 guys working on the car. … There’s natural pressure with what we’re trying to do at the Cup level because it is the No. 1 motorsports in the U.S.”

4. Looking for a ride

Ross Chastain says he’s been “trying for years” to get a ride in the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway without success but that hasn’t deterred him.

“I’ve met with the president of IMSA,” said Chastain, who finished second to Joey Logano for the Cup title this season. “I’ve met with team owners. I’ve talked to drivers. I just can’t find my way in yet. I haven’t found the right person yet to either tell me how to do it or give me the opportunity. I could show up with sponsorship and get a ride, but how do I get in as a race car driver? I haven’t found that spot yet.”

Chastain said he’s reached out to some this offseason with no luck. 

He said the prestige of the season-opening IMSA event (Jan. 28-29, 2023) draws him but he also wants to gain more experience racing on a road course — even with his win at Circuit of the Americas this past season. And Chastain is not picky on the type of ride he’d like to have for that race.

“I’m not even looking to be in the top class. I want to find a mid-pack Xfinity team of the Rolex and go run there and experience it and then just to be around those road racers that do it year around. I know I could learn something. … I just want to race.”

5. Indy 500-Coke 600 double

It has been eight years since Kurt Busch competed in the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day, the last time the feat has been accomplished. 

Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson are among those who have expressed interest in running both races in the same day but don’t appear to be in a position to do so in 2023 because of the limited IndyCar rides available. 

Roger Penske, owner of the IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said he could see Jimmie Johnson attempting it this year, and others as soon as next year. 

“It’s about having the car and the manufactures, whether it’s Chevy and or Honda,” Penske said, referring to the IndyCar manufacturers. “All would be interested to see somebody run the double. Maybe Jimmie is going to do it, which would be great. 

“He has the experience. He did very well on the ovals. … It’s my understanding that he’s going to run potentially the 600 as one of his races (with Petty GMS). We’ll see.”