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.
Last Updated on Friday, 17 July 2015 10:42
LOUDON — A big weekend of racing continues today at New Hampshire Motor Speedway with the Andy Blacksmith 100 (Whelen Modified Tour) at 2 p.m. followed by the Lakes Region 200 (XFINITY Series) at 4 p.m.
The open-wheel NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at NHMS is widely considered to put on one of the best races in any series in the country. It has run more races at NHMS than any other touring series. This race will be the 62nd series race at the Magic Mile.
In 2014, longtime series regular Bobby Santos broke through with his first career NHMS win in this event.
The NASCAR XFINITY Series, formerly known as the Nationwide Series, has been a staple at NHMS since it first brought NASCAR to the Magic Mile on July 15, 1990. It has raced at the track at least once per year ever since and will race for the 29th time at NHMS this year.
The series features some of the brightest young stars in the series, as well as some NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers. Brad Keselowski won the race for the second time in three seasons in 2014, and Kyle Busch has won four of the last six.
On Sunday the NASCAR Sprint Cup series Five-Hour Energy 301 will run at 1:30 p.m. As many as 100,000 fans are expected for the race, which is held at New England's largest sports venue.
For race tickets call 783-4931 or go to www.nhms.com/tickets.
New Hampshire Motor Speedway race fans can rev up their race-day experience by purchasing a pre-race pit pass for Sunday of race weekends.
Pre-race pit passes are $75 per person and include infield admission only (grandstand seating must be purchased separately). Passes for children 14-and-under are $25.
With a pre-race pit pass, fans can experience pit road from a crew member's perspective before the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. Fans may roam the pit area in the morning before the race, where they can check out pit boxes and many of the race cars, as well as get a front row view of the pre-race festivities.
The access does not guarantee driver interaction, but many fans have been seen snapping a quick photo or grabbing an autograph from a driver on his way through the infield. It does not give access to the Sprint Cup garage area.
Pre-race pit passes are available until 11 a.m. on race morning at any ticket window. Fans are encouraged to purchase passes before arrival to skip the ticket line and save time.
Last Updated on Friday, 17 July 2015 10:40
LACONIA — A capacity crowd of 340 jammed the Weirs Community Center while at least three times that number stood outside last evening to welcome Donald Trump, the most controversial candidate in the growing field vying for the Republican presidential nomination.
"We're going to be very close to one another tonight, very close," a campaign aide told the crowd packed shoulder-to-shoulder into the steamy room. Then, as Trump's coming neared, he announced "I would like everyone to shift to the right," explaining that without a six-foot aisle from the door the Fire Marshall would not let him enter. The crowd squeezed and the aisle parted.
Flanked by four escorts, Trump mounted the podium to say that there were three or four more times people outside than in, then immediately described the recent agreement negotiated with Iran as "a disaster" wrought by "gross incompetents". When a supporter waved a copy of Trump's book, "The Art of the Deal," he responded "they didn't read it" and mocked President Obama for failing to negotiate the release of four Americans imprisoned in Iran as part of the bargain.
Trump then turned on the GOP, saying he was more disappointed with his own party than with the Democrats. He charged that Republicans expressed "great indignation" about foreign policy, the economy and, above all, Obamacare, but "nothing happens. I'm tired of it and you're tired of it," he thundered, to loud applause.
Nothing happens, Trump explained, because politicians are beholden to wealthy donors, special interests and Washington lobbyists. "Who knows it better than me? I gave money to Democrats and Republicans," he confessed. If you give them money, he said, "they do whatever the hell you tell them to do. Now I'm on the other side of the fence."
Plaintively flinging his arms to either side, he declared "I don't need the money" and asked how much do I have?" Answering his own question, he proclaimed "ten billion" and repeated "I really don't need it."
Recalling the scoldings he received for his recent remarks about illegal immigrants, particularly Mexicans, Trump countered by noting that he topped the Republican field in a recent poll in Nevada while also capturing the largest share of the Hispanic vote. by a wide margin "I have thousands of Hispanic employees and I love them," he said. "I'm going to win the Hispanic vote."
"The American dream is dead," Trump proclaimed, turning to the major theme of his campaign, "but I' going to make it bigger and better and stronger than ever before."
In particular, he said he would stem the flow of jobs overseas by getting the better of Mexico and China. If Ford Motor Company planned to build an assembly plant in Mexico, he said he would ensure the plan was abandoned and the factory built in the United States by threatening to tax their imported products 35 percent. As for the Chinese, he said he had dealt with them. "I beat China, beat them badly," he recalled. "They don't like me."
Replying to a question about the plight of small business, Trump referred to his acquisition of the bereft Doral Country Club — "I made a good deal, by the way" — which has become Trump National Doral Miami. "You're going to love the job I'll do,"
The room emptied to the militant strains of Twisted Sister — "We're not gonna take it, No, we ain't gonna take it, We're not gonna take it anymore."
Last Updated on Friday, 17 July 2015 02:27
Trump's jet lands at Laconia Airport right on time; candidate meets there with group of invited special guests
GILFORD — Paul and Bridget Gaudet of Gilford and Laconia Rep. Peter Spanos and his wife Sharon of Laconia were four of the nearly 20 people who met with Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump last night at the Laconia Municipal Airport. He was precisely on time.
The billionaire New York businessman was greeted upon arrival in a Cessna Citation X business jet by a handful of onlookers many of whom were there to take his picture. He posed for pictures with many of them.
After greeting the people who were waiting for him at the edge of the tarmac, Trump immediately entered the airport conference room after which he departed for his scheduled appearance at the Weirs Community Center.
The Gaudets and Sharon Spanos said they were supporters of his candidacy.
They said he spoke to them most about business and industry and bringing jobs back to the country.
"I like his honesty," said Sharon Spanos.
"He hates to loose and he can't be bought," said Paul Gaudet.
Last Updated on Friday, 17 July 2015 01:27
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