Special NASCAR traffic control plan will be in place on Sunday

LOUDON — A comprehensive traffic control plan will once again be implemented this Sunday, July 19, when the NASCAR Sprint Cup race takes place at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The event is expected to draw a crowd of more than 100,000 spectators and 37,700 vehicles, according to the state Department of Transportation. The race is due to get under way at 1:45 p.m., with the period of maximum traffic congestion occurring in the late afternoon and early evening hours.

The traffic control measures planned for the July 19 race involving Route 106, Interstate 393 and Interstate 93 include:

—  On race day morning, Route 106 will be two lanes northbound and one lane southbound from I-393 to the intersection of Shaker Road. There will be three lanes northbound and one lane southbound from there to the speedway's south access road. As traffic builds up in the three northbound lanes, traffic control personnel will extend the three lanes southerly to a point south of the Route 129 intersection.

—  Also, on race day morning, the I-93 northbound Exit 15E off‑ramp will provide two temporary lanes of traffic onto I-393 eastbound. In order to reduce congestion on I-93 and promote safety, the I-93 northbound on‑ramp at Exit 14 (Loudon Road) will be closed from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m. The ramp traffic will be detoured to either I-393 Exit 1 via Fort Eddy Road or I-93 Exit 15 via Bridge Street and North Main Street. The I-393 Exit 1 eastbound off ramp to Fort Eddy Road will be closed from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m. Ramp traffic will be detoured off I-393 via Stickney Avenue or I-393 Exit 2 (East Side Drive).

—  Between 2:30 p.m. and approximately 9:30 p.m., Route 106 will be closed to northbound traffic from I-393 in Concord to NHMS. During this time, three temporary southbound lanes will be provided on Route 106.

For safety reasons, the intersections of the following roads with Route 106 will be closed during the one-way conversion: Hollow Root Road, Mudgett Hill Road, Clough Pond Road, Currier Road, Sheep Rock Road, South Village Road, Wales Bridge Road, and Josiah Bartlett Road.

Motorists using Clough Hill Road, Beck Road, New Shaker Road, Soucook Lane, North Village Road, Goshen Drive, Route 129, East Cooper Street, Hemlock Hill Drive, Chichester Road, and Autumn Drive will be able to enter Route 106, but only for southbound travel. During the approximately seven-hour period Route 106 is limited to one-way southbound traffic. Safety vehicles will be stationed at four strategic locations to respond to emergency calls.

—  Route 106 in Belmont will again be made one-way northbound between the Concord Street/Route 106 intersection and the intersection of Routes 140 and 106. This section of roadway will be converted to a temporary two lane one-way northbound roadway between approximately 4 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. On Route 106, two northbound left-turn lanes and one thru/right lane will be provided at the Route 140 intersection. Southbound Route 106 traffic will be detoured onto Route 140 west to Concord Street, and then back onto Route 106. North Main Street will be temporarily closed. All other streets in Belmont will continue normal operations.

— From approximately 2:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., the I‑393 Exit 3 eastbound off‑ramp will be open to southbound Route 106 traffic only, and the northbound Route 106 travel lane will be closed. The I‑393 Exit 3 westbound off‑ramp will be closed to all traffic.

— The I‑393 Exit 1 westbound on‑ramp From Fort Eddy Road will be closed from approximately 3:15 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

— At the I‑393 and I‑93 interchange, the I-93 northbound off‑ramp to I-393 west (Exit 15W) and the I-393 eastbound off‑ramp to I-93 south will be closed from approximately 3:15 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Motorists attempting to use the I-393 eastbound off‑ramp to I-93 south will be diverted to Stickney Avenue from which they can access I-93 south at Exit 14.

— The I-93 Exit 14 southbound off‑ramp and the I-93 Exit 15E southbound off‑ramp to I-393 eastbound will be closed from approximately 3:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Motorists will be directed to use Exit 15W to reach Exit 14 destinations.

— Special measures will be used on I-93 during the late afternoon and early evening hours of July 19. Three southbound lanes will be provided for five miles on I-93 from just north of Exit 15 (I‑393) in Concord, south to just beyond the junction of I-89 in Bow. This will be accomplished by "borrowing" a lane from the normal two-lane northbound barrel of I-93 and converting it to a temporary southbound lane from approximately 4 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. As traffic approaches Exit 15 from the north, it will have the opportunity to cross the paved median and use the "borrowed" lane to, in effect, create an express lane to the Hooksett Toll Plaza. No exits will be accessible from the "borrowed" lane through Concord. Southbound I-93 traffic destined for I-89 must remain on the usual two southbound lanes and not use the "borrowed" lane.

— Special measures on I-393 westbound will also be in effect at Exit 15 to enhance access to I‑93 southbound. From approximately 2:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., the loop ramp for this movement will provide two lanes of traffic. The two lanes will be merged on I-93 southbound prior to reaching Exit 14.

Junior says he just lost his brakes, didn't mean to wreck Danica

LOUDON — Dale Earnhardt Jr., long NASCAR's most popular driver, says that he didn't mean to wreck Danica Patrick's car in last Saturday night's race at Kentucky Speedway.

Both drivers will be in the field of 43 cars starting Sunday's 5-Hour Energy 301 Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (1:30 p.m.) and spectators and NASCAR officials will undoubtedly we keeping an eye on both.

Earnhardt's car hit Patrick's rear bumper on the 207th lap of the 267 lap race and sent it into the wall, prompting angry words from her on her headset to Earnhardt's spotters, who attempted to explain that his car had lost its brakes.
Later, as both cars went into the pit area, Patrick ran into the back of Earnhardt's car. She did not speak with reporters after the race.
Speaking on Tuesday's edition of his weekly podcast, "The Dale Jr. Download," Earnhardt said it was a problem with his car's brakes that caused the contact.
"We were sitting there running along pumping the brakes a lot," said Earnhardt, who finished 21st. "I had just let Danica go by and we went down the back straightaway and I'm pumping the brakes and I can't pump them all the way to the floor on the straightaway because you don't want to slow the car down while you're trying to accelerate. You're just pumping them trying to get the fluid up, trying to get the pedal up. Well, when we got to the corner and I mashed the brake, it went all way to the floor, and I let off the brakes, mashed it again to the floor.
"At this point I'm going to hit her. I let off again and mashed the brakes and it goes to the floor, and then I ran in the back of her. So I couldn't slow the car down. There was nothing I could do about it."
Earnhardt said that by running into his car on pit row, Patrick made the situation worse. "That just brings a lot of unwanted attention to both of us for all the wrong reasons.
"I've been there, I've done that, but knowing what I know now, you don't want to make a bad situation worse. That sucked, I couldn't do anything about it, and I hated it wrecked her car, because nobody wants to get wrecked out of the race."
Patrick at one time raced for a team in the NASCAR XFINITY series that Earnhardt was the co-owner of.

Silver Anniversary of NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (846 )

LOUDON — New Hampshire Motor Speedway celebrates its silver anniversary of hosting NASCAR races this weekend with the big event being Sunday's Sprint Cup Race, the 5-hour ENERGY 301 which will be start at 1:30 p.m. and will be broadcast live by the NBC Sports Network.
The track opened as New Hampshire International Speedway in June of 1990 after nine months of construction following Bob Bahre's purchase of Bryar Motorsports Park in 1989. The reconstruction of the track into a 52,000 seat complex with a 1.058 mile oval made it the largest speedway in New England and subsequent expansions doubled the capacity to over 90,000.
NASCAR made its debut at the track on July 15, 1990 with the Busch Series Budweiser 300, which was won by Tommy Ellis and featured many drivers from the then Winston Cup Series, including Dale Earnhardt, Sr., who placed seventh,
The Busch Series, which was later renamed the Nationwide Series and is now known as the NASCAR XFINITY series, were successful races, enabling the speedway to gain a spot on the Winston Cup series calendar in 1993.
The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race at NHIS, the Slick 300, was held on July 11, 1993 and was won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace. It was also the last race ever for Davey Allison, who was fatally injured in a helicopter crash the next day at the Talladega, Alabama, race track.
After the 1996 season Bob Bahre and Bruton Smith bought the North Wilkesboro, North Carolina Speedway and moved one of its Winston Cup races to NHIS, a September event, with the other race going to one of Smith's other tracks.
NHIS has hosted two top-tier races a year since that time and has gained a reputation as a tough track for drivers to pass one another, which led to changes in the banking of the track in order to create more side by side racing and passing opportunities.
In 2000 the track was the site of a pair of fatal collisions, one in May which took the life of Adam Petty when his throttle stuck during a practice and he hit the wall in the middle of the third and fourth turns, and another in July in which Rookie of the Year Kenny Irwin died. For safety reasons ,when the cars returned for the September race, so-called restrictor plates were used to control speed and produced an uneventful race in which Jeff Burton led for all 300 laps of the Dura Lube 300.
Before the 2008 racing season, Speedway Motorsports, owned by Bruton Smith, purchased the track from the Bahre family for $340 million and changed the name of the track to New Hampshire Motor Speedway. It is one of eight tracks owned by Speedway Motorsports.
NASCAR has faced declining popularity nationwide ever since the 2008 recession and has been trying in recent years to woo back fans by making the races more competitive. Changes this year include reduction of horsepower from 850 to 725 and reduction of the rear spoiler from eight inches to six inches.
In-season race car set-up package changes are also being made and NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said this week that he is very pleased with the package which was used last weekend at Kentucky Speedway.
A lower downforce package at Kentucky led to a track-best 22 green-flag passes for the lead and more than double the green-flag passes throughout the field from last season, from 1,147 to 2,665. France praised the NASCAR Research and Development Center for taking risks by running a new package in a race as the series reached the halfway point of its season.
"Our group at the R&D Center did a really good job, and they're taking some risks that are a little bit outside the box of NASCAR," France said. "We typically wouldn't be changing packages in mid-stream like this in the middle of our season. But we want to make sure that we're delivering the absolute best racing that we can. They felt — and I agree with them — the only way to sort that out is not to test it in sort of isolated tests but to do it in real racing time."
This Sunday's race at the Speedway is a crucial one in the Race for the Chase, which will see 16 drivers qualify from the first 26 races of the season to be eligible for the Sprint Cup championship, which will be determined over the last 10 races of the season.
Winning Sunday can play a big role in building a driver's momentum toward a championship run. From 2010-14, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne and Brad Keselowski used wins in this race to carry themselves into the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup, and in 2013, Brian Vickers upset the field for his first win since 2009.
Keselowski won last year's July race at the speedway while Joey Logano won the September race.
Currently six-time champion Jimmie Johnson, who won both of the 2003 races at NHMS, is leading the Race for the Chase with four wins. Kevin Harvick, last year's Sprint Cup series winner, is second with two wins and leads in point standings. Joey Logano, also with two wins, is third followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr.