Johnson & Harvick running 1-2 in the 2015 'Race for the Chase'

LOUDON — The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series moved to a ''win and in'' formula last year, which rewards drivers for wins by making the winners of any of the first 26 races automatic qualifiers for the 16 open spots in the season-ending Chase for the Sprint Cup, providing they are in the top 30 in the overall points standings. The pack is currently led by 6-time champion Jimmie Johnson with four wins.
Points leader and defending champion Kevin Harvick, who has won two races, is in second place followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr., also with two wins. Kurt Busch with two wins is in fourth place followed by Joey Logano, who won last year's September race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards, all of whom have one win.
The others in the top 16 are determined by their standings in the points race and show Jamie McMurray in 11th, followed by Jeff Gordon, who is retiring after this year, Kasey Kahne, Paul Menard, Ryan Newman and Clint Bowyer.
Still looking to move into the top 16 in the chase is Kyle Busch, who won last week at Louisville and has won two of the seven races he's run and has climbed to 35th place in the points standings since his return from a compound fracture of his right leg and a fracture of his left foot suffered in the season-opening XFinity series race at Daytona International Speedway.
Busch must finish in the top 30 in order to qualify for the chase.
These Chase drivers compete against each other while racing in the standard field of 43 cars. The driver with the most points after the final 10 races is declared the champion.

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.