It is race day in New Hampshire. We stay about 35 miles away in Manchester New Hampshire and at 4:45 this morning the Dunkin Donuts was already 4 deep with writers, NASCAR officials and some old guy who had a puzzled look on his face. At McDonalds (24 hour drive through) I was the 3rd car in line. Traffic north one hour later was surprising busy and as we get to the track, we find ourselves waiting with the teams for the garage to open up at 8:00.
Weather is supposed to be clear at race time and about 78 or 84 degrees depending on which radio station or weather report you listen to. The security guard that we befriended said he lives an hour and half away. He was up at 3:30 this morning and is either a true morning person or hit every Dunkin Donuts for coffee between his house and the race track.
The question of the day is will there be a dominating driver/car like yesterday’s Truck Race. Kyle (Rowdy) Busch channeled his inner Rambo and laid waste to the entire Camping World Truck field yesterday. If he has a car as good as his truck, he could be trouble here for the Cup drivers.
The other question is how good are the other guys? Ryan Newman took the pole for today’s race, but David Stremme who qualified 34th was fastest in practice yesterday. Jeff Gordon qualified 7th and was in the top speed charts most of the day. But since this is such a hard track to pass on, will the fastest car be able to make its way through the pack or will the top 5 or six be the ones to win?
The track itself will be another question. Yesterday I was taking pictures in the outside edge of turn 1. From there you can see the outside two lanes, sometime in the distant past, sealed much as we do our driveways. Unfortunately, it looks like a 20 year old paint job and it is clear there is no grip that far up the track. That makes it very hard to pass except on the straighter front and back stretch.
This season the weather is always a question. Right now it is a bit cloudy and one weather channel I listened to on the way here called for morning showers and another one called for clear followed by clouds. My I-phone says there is a 10% chance of rain all day and no rain on radar. It looks like New Hampshire uses the rope method for weather prediction. If the rope is wet, it is raining, if the rope is dry, it is clear. If the rope is moving it is windy. Right now the rope is not moving and sort of dry.
Finally, which team will have the best pit stops will answer who is likely to win. Kyle Busch showed track position was and is king at this track. If Austin Dillon could have gotten in front of Kyle yesterday, it may have been a different race. Which Cup team can get its driver out first to gain the track position to bring home a win? Since Ryan Newman starts off on the pole, as long as his pit crew holds their own, he has a big advantage. However, Kurt Busch starting 5th, Kevin Harvick starting 6th, Jeff Gordon Starting 7th and Kyle Busch starting 8th all have busted out fantastic pit stops one race or another this year and could take the lead at any time. Don’t forget that Jimmy Johnson starting 10th Dale Earnhart, Jr. starting 12th, and Brad Keselowski starting 16th have also made great back to back pit stops this year and have a chance to power to the front.
Getting your car out first and holding the inside line in the turns will tell the story of who will win today. The Legends race starts at 10 this morning to get that Darrel Waltrip vortex going which proved itself yesterday. Lets hope it works today too.