April 14, 2014

Magic Mile Power Rankings: Darlington

Race #8 – Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway

Darlington Raceway certainly wasn’t too tough for Kevin Harvick to tame on Saturday night, as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series veteran became the first driver to win two races this season. The No. 4 Budweiser Chevy was dominant , leading 238 of 374 laps en route to a dramatic finish that saw Harvick overcome Dale Earnhardt Jr. under a green-white-checkered finish.

Here's a look at the MMPR heading into Race 9 at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday, April 26:

April 10, 2014

Winter vs. Summer: Then and Now Photo Comparison

NHMS Ready to Open After Harsh Winter

The majority of New Hampshire Motor Speedway fans might think that the facility operates for two NASCAR weekends each year.  That's certainly true; the year does revolve around those major dates which bring in over 100,000 people each.  However, we do so much more at the Magic Mile.

The gates open in early April and don't close until the end of October, as we host everything from motorcycle race weekends to legends cars and bandolero races to NASCAR driving experiences sports car club track rentals to cycling and running events.

The New Hampshire Cycling Club is traditionally the first group on the track, and continues to use the facility on Thursday nights throughout the season.  This year won't be any different.  The group will take to the track on the evening of April 10 for the first on-track event of 2014.

This year, more than most, that comes as a relief to those of us at NHMS.  The cyclers were originally scheduled to open the season on April 3 with Rusty Wallace Driving Experience to follow from April 4-6.  However, after a long, cold winter that saw several feet of late-season snow and frigid temperatures to hold it, the start of the schedule was delayed a week while New England still thawed itself out.

The start of the 2014 on-track events marks a long-awaited end to winter and a start to our busy season.  We're excited for our 25th summer and intend to make it the best in our history.

Here's a then and now comparison of the harsh winter vs. the Opening Day of the track:

April 9, 2014

FANTASY: A Southern Tradition

Bojangles' Southern 500 Fantasy Preview

Darlington Raceway has earned the nickname "The Lady
in Black" due to all the tire scuffs on the wall. (Getty, 2010)
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will race at Darlington Raceway for the 111th time this Sunday.  The series first raced there in 1950, and most anyone that's anybody in racing history has won there: Fireball Roberts, Richard Petty, David Pearson, Cale Yarborough, Dale Earnhardt (Sr.), Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson; just to pick out a few across the generations.

The track has its own unique, egg-shape.  It was built like this in 1949 to allow for the preservation of a minnow pond on the west side of the property ... A minnow pond, of all things.  Over the years, the track earned the name "The Lady in Black" because of the marks that the wall would get from the amount of drivers that slid up the track and left black tire marks.

To this day, it remains one of the most legendary tracks on the schedule.  It's other nickname, "Too Tough to Tame," says just about all you need to know about its difficulty.  This isn't a track for the faint of heart (not that auto racing in general is designed for the faint of heart).  Here's a look at the drivers that might be able to tame "The Lady in Black" this weekend:

April 8, 2014

Magic Mile Power Rankings: Texas

Race #7 – Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway

No one doubted that the 22 had the best car down the stretch on Monday, but the entire team was put to the test during a late caution that provided a green-white-checkered finish at Texas Motor Speedway. Logano, who restarted third, overcame a push by Jeff Gordon to win his first race of 2014 and likely earn a spot into the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship for a second consecutive season.

Here's a look at the MMPR heading into Race 8 at Darlington Raceway on Saturday night:

1. Jeff Gordon – The reality is that no one has been more consistent over the first seven weeks of the season than the 24. Gordon has just two finishes outside the top 10 all season (13th and 12th), and finished a very respectable runner-up to Joey Logano at Texas on Monday.
Previous ranking: Third, +2

April 4, 2014

Magic Mile Power Rankings: Martinsville

Race #6 – STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway

In one of the most back-and-forth battles we’ve seen this season, Kurt Busch held off another dominant day from Jimmie Johnson at Martinsville Speedway to win the STP 500 for the 25th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory of his career. The Outlaw took down Six-Time, making him the sixth different driver in the first six weeks of the season to find a spot in Victory Lane.

Here's a look at the MMPR heading into Race 7 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday:

1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. – His fourth top-three finish in the first six races of the season, last week’s third at Martinsville has to keep Junior Nation appeased after two sub-par weeks at Bristol and Fontana.
Previous ranking: Second, +1