NASCAR At Loudon 2012: New Hampshire Win Moves Kasey Kahne To Wild Card Spot

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NASCAR New Hampshire Results 2012: Jimmie Johnson Bites Tongue Over Late Loudon Caution

Jimmie Johnson was sorely tempted to comment about the late caution in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway that trapped him a lap down and cost him a probable top-five finish (see the full Loudon results here).

Johnson had just short-pitted on Lap 231 when NASCAR threw the yellow for oil on the track, courtesy of David Reutimann's blown engine.

Though Johnson got his lap back as the highest scored lapped car and subsequently drove up to seventh place at the finish, the five-time champion tiptoed up to the edge of questioning the validity of the caution without going there -- perhaps because negative comments by drivers about such things have earned monetary fines in the past.

"Yeah, I'm going to keep my mouth shut on that caution," Johnson said after the race. "Anyway, we had a great race car. There was a lot of speed in the car. It was the Gibbs cars and the Hendrick cars, and at times I was the best Hendrick car -- running top-two, top-three.

"But then that caution put us back in traffic. We still got through there decent."

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NASCAR At New Hampshire 2012: Miscommunication Costs Denny Hamlin Loudon Win

The driver to beat in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway was clear to all. It was Denny Hamlin, who led 150 laps in total and easily distanced himself from the rest of the field.

However, miscommunication during Hamlin's final pit stop proved to be his undoing. Instead of getting two tires like his driver wanted, crew chief Darian Grubb called for four fresh tires, thinking Hamlin wanted more grip.

"What happened was, Darian asked me how much of the tires he felt like I used up," Hamlin said. "I said, ‘I felt like I used them up a substantial amount. I'd been on the lefts for quite a few laps.'

"So my information to him was, ‘Yeah, I've used up the tires.' He said, ‘I think two is the call.' I said, ‘OK, just give me tires and no adjustments.' He took that as I meant four tires. So it's just that small miscommunication just messed us up a little bit."

The mixup shuffled the Joe Gibbs Racing driver back to 13th with just 62 laps to go. Despite valiant effort, there was not enough time to get back to the lead. Hamlin was forced to accept a hard-fought second-place finish instead.

Ultimately, Hamlin referred to it as a "perfect storm" of things coming together at an inopportune time.

From the moment the caution waved to the moment he hit his pit box, there were only 45 seconds for Hamlin and crew chief Grubb to get the on the same page strategy-wise. With a few more seconds, there would have been no miscommunication and, barring something unforeseen, the No. 11 team would have been celebrating its third win of 2012.

"You're going to have days like this," Hamlin said. "It's part of racing. That's why it's such a team sport. It's the pit crew, the driver, the car, the crew chief, all those things put together. We just had a slight miscommunication, that one little mistake will magnify and take a win away from you."

Although Hamlin was understandably disappointed with the turn of events, he remarkably wasn't letting the miscue get him down afterward. Instead, he seemed to be relishing the opportunity of coming back to New Hampshire in September and capturing what eluded him this weekend.

And Hamlin does have reason to be optimistic, as he's solidly in the Chase and in contention for the top seed. It's also not unfathomable to think that Hamlin will seriously challenge for his first championship.

But even that optimism can't erase the fact Hamlin and his team let a race get away that they should have won.

"Your emotions, it's tough to keep them in check when you know you've kind of given one away," Hamlin said. "Darian has won me a couple races this year more than he's taken away from me. ...

"As hard as it is to keep your emotions in check, you have to take it in stride and realize, after you pull out on pit road, go out on the racetrack, there's nothing you can do about it."

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. Gets Another Top-5 Result In NASCAR New Hampshire Race

Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s fourth-place finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday means the Hendrick Motorsports driver has now started the season with 19 consecutive lead-lap finishes – which is a modern-era record, according to his publicist (NASCAR confirmed the stat).

Here's what Earnhardt Jr. said about his top-five Loudon result on Sunday (selected quotes courtesy of Chevrolet):

"We were just about a tenth (of a second) off all weekend. We tire-tested here, and were quick and real happy with the car, so not sure where it went. Steve (Letarte, crew chief) and my guys worked really hard on the car during the race, we just could get any better than we were. Happy with another top-five, but need to get some better and win some more races.

We just didn't have enough. All weekend we worked on the car real hard and worked during the race real hard and we just couldn't run any better than we were running. Track position was real important to us. I don't know if we had a good enough race car to get back there and race anybody. We're just happy to run in the top five. We're strong. We've just got to get another notch, you know, and start winning some more races."

I don't know, man, we're pretty excited about our chances when we get to the Chase, but we've still got some things to learn and accomplish before we get there. We're not looking too far ahead, you know; we're trying to work on one race at a time.

When we've got about a 10th-place car, we've got to use good strategy and be smart on the race track and finish in the top five with it and run in the top five every week. You've got to win some races too, I think, to win the championship. We're running strong. I'm really happy with how many points we're gaining every week and what we're doing consistently.

We just need a tick more speed. We've gotten faster. We've found speed and improved. You just need a little bit more to really be one of those dominant cars every week.

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NASCAR At New Hampshire: Carl Edwards, Roush Fenway Racing Cars Struggle

Carl Edwards is running out of time.

The driver who tied for last year's championship and entered 2012 as the preseason favorite is on the outside of the Chase, and his disappointing 19th-place result on Sunday at New Hampshire only weakened his playoff hopes.

Edwards is now 46 points behind 10th place, meaning he'll likely need at least one win – maybe two – to make the Chase. But after Sunday, there are only seven chances left.

"I think this (off-week) will be good for us," he said after the race. "We'll go back to the shop and get a real war plan. I say 'war plan' because I think it's gonna be tough, but we've got to plan for the next seven races.

"We can do it, though, and now we've just got to get it done."

The frustrated Edwards said he'll "keep fighting" and "make something happen," although there are now fewer opportunities to do so. He has not won a race all season.

Edwards' seven chances include Indianapolis, Pocono, Watkins Glen, Michigan, Bristol, Atlanta and Richmond.

On Sunday at New Hampshire, his Roush Fenway Racing teammates didn't fare much better.

Greg Biffle was ninth – the only Ford to finish inside the top 10 – and Matt Kenseth was 13th. That doesn't bode well for the two Roush drivers who are virtual locks to make the Chase.

"I'm a terrible driver when it comes to taking care of the brakes," Biffle said. "It's got to be me because we've done everything under the sun, but about halfway through I lost my brakes and that's about all I could do."

Kenseth said Roush Fenway "struggles here as a company a little."

"Since the introduction of the COT car, it has been a struggle here," he said. "I think Greg won one time because of some good stops and strategy by being in the front, but, overall, it's a bad track for us. We've got to keep working on it."

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NASCAR Loudon Results 2012: Kasey Kahne Wins At New Hampshire

Kasey Kahne spoiled Denny Hamlin's heroic drive through the field and held on to win Sunday's Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, all but securing a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with his second victory of the season.

Kahne led the final 66 laps, as fast-closing Hamlin ran out of time after starting deep in the field on a restart on Lap 240. Hamlin had dominated the race, but a miscommunication on pit strategy cost him track position in the late going and Hamlin ran out of time after securing the runner-up spot.

Clint Bowyer ran third, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brad Keselowski. Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Greg Biffle and Ryan Newman completed the top 10.

After a cycle of green-flag pit stops just past the halfway point, Hamlin stretched his lead over Kahne to 5.5 seconds, as small rain cells moved toward the speedway. Hamlin then began picking off competitive cars, lapping Tony Stewart, Jamie McMurray and Paul Menard in quick succession.

As Hamlin worked traffic, however, Kahne made inroads into his advantage, cutting the margin between the top two cars to 2.601 seconds on Lap 187. Hamlin's entire lead disappeared two laps later when NASCAR called a debris caution.

With a light drizzle misting the race track, pole-sitter Kyle Busch stayed out while the rest of the contenders came to pit road to refuel. Busch led the field to a restart on Lap 197 but quickly gave way to Hamlin, who opened a lead of 2.304 seconds over his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate by Lap 211.

Racing on tires that were 32 laps older than those of his rivals, Busch kept the rest of the field at bay, but he overshot his pit stall slightly during a green-flag stop on Lap 231 and lost second to Johnson, who short-pitted on the same lap.

A caution on Lap 232 for David Reutimann's blown engine scrambled the field. Hamlin, who took four tires on Lap 235, lost 12 spots on pit road and restarted 13th as Kahne and Earnhardt led the field to green with 62 laps left.

By Lap 253, Hamlin had climbed to sixth. On Lap 257, he got by Biffle in Turn 1 for fifth. Harvick succumbed to Hamlin's superior speed on Lap 263, and the No. 11 Toyota was fourth. Earnhardt was the next victim, surrendering third place on Lap 272. Five laps later, Hamlin ducked to the inside of Bowyer through Turns 1 and 2, took over the second position and took off after Kahne.

Here are the full NASCAR results from today's race at New Hampshire:

  1. Kasey Kahne
  2. Denny Hamlin
  3. Clint Bowyer
  4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  5. Brad Keselowski
  6. Jeff Gordon
  7. Jimmie Johnson
  8. Kevin Harvick
  9. Greg Biffle
  10. Ryan Newman
  11. Martin Truex Jr.
  12. Tony Stewart
  13. Matt Kenseth
  14. Joey Logano
  15. Brian Vickers
  16. Kyle Busch
  17. Paul Menard
  18. Carl Edwards
  19. Marcos Ambrose
  20. Jamie McMurray
  21. Jeff Burton
  22. Sam Hornish Jr.
  23. Bobby Labonte
  24. Kurt Busch
  25. Juan Pablo Montoya
  26. Regan Smith
  27. David Gilliland
  28. Aric Almirola
  29. Landon Cassill
  30. Travis Kvapil
  31. Ken Schrader
  32. Stephen Leicht
  33. David Reutimann
  34. David Ragan
  35. David Stremme
  36. Casey Mears
  37. Josh Wise
  38. Joe Nemechek
  39. Dave Blaney
  40. Michael McDowell
  41. Scott Riggs
  42. Kelly Bires
  43. JJ Yeley
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NASCAR At New Hampshire 2012: Viewer's Guide For Today's Race

Here are some storylines, notes and drivers to watch for in today's NASCAR race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway:

Storylines

Two Keys To Winning: Fuel and Track Position

Today's race will likely not be decided on the track per se, but won or lost in the pits – centering on the decisions crew chiefs will be making throughout the afternoon.

One of the most critical calls facing the guys atop the pit box is how far to go on a fuel run, as fuel-mileage races have become synonymous on the track coined the "Magic Mile." Secondly, because of how difficult it is to pass, track position is everything at New Hampshire. Knowing this, along with the lack of tire wear, crew chiefs frequently call for two-tire and no-tire stops in an effort to jump ahead of the competition.

Stewart-Haas Racing

A year ago, New Hampshire was very good to Stewart-Haas Racing, with Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart finishing first and second in this race and Stewart later going to Victory Lane in the fall event. While neither jumped out in practice, expect both drivers to work their way into contention before the afternoon is out. This is statistically one of Newman's better tracks – he's won here three times – and Stewart, coming off a win at Daytona, has a win and two seconds in his last four Loudon starts.

All-Out For The Win

Dale Earnhardt Jr. said in his Friday press conference he and his team were going to start going for wins more aggressively and not worry so much about racing for points. With just eight races left before the Chase, gambling and going all-out for wins is a philosophy a lot of teams in the top 10 will start incorporating, as everyone wants to procure as many bonus points as possible.

But being aggressive is an approach those outside the top 10 are now taking – and have been for a while. The belief among drivers 11th on back is it's going to take two wins if they want to race their way into the Chase. Pay particular attention to Carl Edwards and Jeff Gordon, two drivers who are winless on the year and have made no secret of the fact they will do just about anything to score that initial victory.

Worth Noting

• After clocking in the 36th-fastest time in qualifying, Kelly Bires will be making his first Sprint Cup Series start this afternoon.

• On the subject of starts, Juan Pablo Montoya will be making his 200th today – the 119th driver in history to do so.

Favorites

1. Denny Hamlin

With multiple wins at Pocono and Martinsville, as well as a victory here in 2007, it is obvious Denny Hamlin is at his best on the flat ovals. And after having swept both rounds of Saturday's practice and having the best 10-lap average in each session, the No. 11 Toyota appears to be the car to beat this afternoon.

2. Jeff Gordon

There is hungry, there is desperation and then is whatever the state of being Jeff Gordon is currently at – winless, frustrated and saddled with more bad luck than at any other point in his career. The good news is the three-time Loudon winner has been fast throughout practice and qualifying – he starts seventh – and is in excellent position to get that victory he needs oh-so-badly.

3. Brad Keselowski

Yesterday's Nationwide Series winner finished second here last fall and has shown that same speed throughout the weekend. However, one factor working against Brad Keselowski today is he qualified 22nd and he's going to need some help from crew chief Paul Wolfe in his quest to get to the front.

Sleeper

Clint Bowyer is hit-or-miss at New Hampshire, but when he's on, he's very good – two wins where he led 222 and 177 laps, respectively. And a good run today is what Bowyer needs after back-to-back subpar finishes has dropped him to 10th in points.

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NASCAR At New Hampshire 2012: Loudon Start Time, Starting Lineup, Live Streaming, TV/Radio Schedule And More

It's NASCAR race day at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and we've got the actual race start time, the starting lineup and some other facts about today's race for you below.

What time does the race start today? A sponsor exec will give the command to fire engines today at 1:08 p.m. Eastern time, followed by a few pace laps and the waving of the green flag at 1:16 p.m. So if you're looking to skip the pre-race show and just tune in for the race itself, turn on your TV set at 1:16 p.m. EDT.

Race name/distance: The Lenox Industrial Tools 301 is a 301-lap race around the New Hampshire Motor Speedway – nicknamed the "Magic Mile" for a total of ... 318.46 miles? Wait, what? Yes, as it turns out, New Hampshire is more than a mile: It's 1.058 miles. We're guessing the "Lenox Industrial Tools 318.46" doesn't sound as good though.

TV, radio and live streaming: The race can be seen on TNT. This is TNT's final race of six broadcasts this summer before handing the reins to ESPN for the rest of the season beginning at Indianapolis (there's an off week next weekend). There IS live streaming of the race today, which can be found at NASCAR.com's "RaceBuddy" site. If you'll be away from your computer and TV, check the Performance Racing Network's web site for a list of affiliate radio stations in your area.

*** NOTE: If you're out and about and can't watch the race, make sure to follow me (@jeff_gluck) on Twitter. I'll be tweeting updates about the event. ***

National anthem: Emma Joanis, a 12-year-old winner of the track's "Speedway Star" competition, is doing the honors today. Let's hope she does a good job, since we'd hate to see a kid ridiculed on Twitter (the typical response to a bad anthem).

Tickets: New Hampshire usually has a strong crowd, but the race hasn't been announced as a sellout. If you're looking to make a last-minute trip, tickets should be no problem.

Weather: Uh oh. The unofficial NASCAR weatherman, Brian Neudorff, says today's forecast is iffy and could feature rain showers that might delay the proceedings. Make sure to check our StoryStream for updates as the race gets closer.

Last time: The 2011 season at New Hampshire was all about Stewart-Haas Racing. SHR had a season sweep, with Ryan Newman winning the spring race and Tony Stewart continuing his championship run with a win in the fall.

Starting lineup for today's NASCAR race at New Hampshire:

  1. Kyle Busch
  2. Kasey Kahne
  3. Denny Hamlin
  4. Martin Truex Jr.
  5. Clint Bowyer
  6. Ryan Newman
  7. Jimmie Johnson
  8. Jeff Gordon
  9. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  10. Tony Stewart
  11. Greg Biffle
  12. Kevin Harvick
  13. Brian Vickers
  14. Paul Menard
  15. Kurt Busch
  16. Joey Logano
  17. Regan Smith
  18. Bobby Labonte
  19. David Ragan
  20. Marcos Ambrose
  21. Carl Edwards
  22. Brad Keselowski
  23. Aric Almirola
  24. Sam Hornish Jr.
  25. Jeff Burton
  26. David Reutimann
  27. Matt Kenseth
  28. Jamie McMurray
  29. Landon Cassill
  30. Travis Kvapil
  31. Juan Pablo Montoya
  32. Josh Wise
  33. Casey Mears
  34. Joe Nemechek
  35. Dave Blaney
  36. Michael McDowell
  37. Ken Schrader
  38. JJ Yeley
  39. David Gilliland
  40. David Stremme
  41. Scott Riggs
  42. Kelly Bires
  43. Stephen Leicht
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NASCAR At Loudon: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. OK After Post-Nationwide Race Dehydration

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. briefly felt faint following today's NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Loudon. He was dehydrated after suffering from an illness all week and was taken to get fluids at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway infield care center.

Here's what he said after leaving the care center (transcript courtesy of Ford Racing):

"I feel OK now. They gave me some fluids and got good to go. I think just being a little sick all week, not eating much and not drinking enough fluids caught up with me after the race. I think we'll be good to go now.

I've felt it all week being really tired, not eating and not drinking any fluids so that part of it I definitely felt it in the race car, but I don't think it slowed us down any. When I'm in there, I'm driving as hard as I can every lap.

I got sick after the race in Daytona on Friday night and kind of let it go throughout the weekend and was hoping it would get better, but it never did. It's probably my fault that we ended up like this.

The good thing is (next week at Chicagoland) is a Sunday race, so I've got all week to get the fluids in me and get better. Hopefully, within the next couple days I'll feel a little bit better and eat a little bit more. I normally drink plenty of fluids and never have the issue of getting light-headed after the race or anything like that.

My throat hurt throughout the whole week. I didn't really want to drink or eat anything and it caught up with me. Yesterday and today I drank plenty of fluids, but you've got to do it before, so I think we should be OK for Chicago."

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NASCAR New Hampshire Results 2012: Brad Keselowski Wins Nationwide Race

Pole-sitter Brad Keselowski took advantage of an opportune moment late in Saturday's F.W. Webb 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race and held off Kevin Harvick in the closing laps to claim his first victory at New Hamsphire Motor Speedway, his second of the season and the 19th of his career.

Race runner-up Kevin Harvick, who finished .717 seconds back, expressed his displeasure with Amber Cope by tapping her car on the cool-down lap, an expression of displeasure at Cope's impeding Harvick's progress and opening the door for Keselowski's winning pass.

Austin Dillon ran third, winning Nationwide's $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus and establishing his eligibility for next week's cash bonus at Chicagoland Speedway. Sam Hornish Jr. ran fourth, followed by defending series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Keselowski held a 3.6-second lead when Cole Whitt got into Turn 1 too hot on Lap 121 and turned the No. 4 Chevrolet of Danny Efland into the outside wall. Keselowski, Hornish, Harvick, Dillon and Stenhouse were among those who took two tires during pit stops under the ensuing caution, and the field restarted with Keselowski in the lead on Lap 129.

From that point, Keselowski began to drive away again. By the time Danica Patrick tapped the No. 81 Toyota of Jason Bowles and spun off Turn 4 on Lap 149, Keselowski led by 2.3 seconds, but that advantage disappeared with the fourth caution of the afternoon.

Sadler came to the pits along with Patrick and Whitt for a four-tire stop on Lap 151, giving up the ninth position. Sadler restarted 14th on fresh rubber on Lap 155, with Patrick 15th. The call for new tires paid dividends, as Sadler gained six positions within eight laps.

Ultimately, he finished seventh and retained his lead in the series standings by three points over second-place Dillon.

While Sadler was cutting a swath through the field, Harvick grabbed the lead from Keselowski on Lap 155 and held it through two laps of side-by-side racing. In clean air, Harvick pulled away to a 1.5-second lead, but while battling traffic with 22 laps left, Harvick was held up by the lapped car of Cope.

Keselowski made an aggressive move to the outside and passed Harvick off Turn 4 to take control of the race.

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Kevin Harvick: Amber Cope 'Shouldn't Be On The Racetrack'

Kevin Harvick was cruising to victory in Saturday afternoon's Nationwide Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway until he suddenly ran up on the lapped car of Amber Cope.

Cope, one of former driver Derrike Cope's twin nieces, got in Harvick's way and broke his momentum. It cost him the victory when eventual winner Brad Keselowski took advantage of Harvick's sudden slowness and passed the No. 33 car.

Harvick, obviously, was not too happy afterward.

"It's not one of 'those deals,' it's somebody who shouldn't be on the racetrack, who has no clue what they're doing in the race car," Harvick told ESPN. "She wants to be Danica Patrick, but she can't hold her helmet. I don't even know who it is, to tell you the truth."

Harvick said every time he came to Cope's No. 24 car, "she doesn't know whether she's going high or low."

"It looked like she went up, so I committed to the bottom," Harvick said. "And she came down."

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NASCAR At New Hampshire: Ryan Newman Says 'Politics' Involved in Army's Decision To End Sponsorship

Ryan Newman left no doubt Friday as to why the U.S. Army will no longer be associated with NASCAR after this season.

"From what I have heard and what I have read, there was some true politics involved," Newman said at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The news comes at a time when Congress has questioned whether spending millions of dollars on NASCAR sponsorship is worth the investment.

According to Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), who has previously co-sponsored legislation to ban the military from spending money at NASCAR events, in the last year the Army has spent $16 million sponsoring various professional sporting ventures – including NASCAR and the NHRA.

Newman's car owner, Tony Stewart, acknowledged that although it was a "possibility" all along, he was still "surprised" by the Army discontinuing its sponsorship of the No. 39 car.

Whatever the reason, Newman's future at Stewart-Haas Racing is now murky, as the team needs to find more sponsorship if he is to return to the No. 39 car next season. If not, Newman will have to find a new team to drive for next year, while SHR will focus on fielding cars for Stewart and Danica Patrick, who will move to the Sprint Cup Series full time in 2013.

"Their decision is their decision," Newman said. "It's unfortunate. I was a proud representative of the name, the people, the colors and everything else.

"... Whatever they do, I hope it is good for the Army, good for the USA to recruit and educate and improve the quality of our soldiers."

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NASCAR At Loudon: Brad Keselowski's Anti-Drug, Anti-Vitamin, Anti-Supplement Rant

In light of Penske Racing teammate AJ Allmendinger's suspension for a positive drug test, Brad Keselowski made some strong comments about athletes who take drugs, supplements and even vitamins today at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Keselowski said he hadn't spoken to Allmendinger since the suspension was handed down, but said it was "like watching somebody get killed because you know what it (means) to someone's career."

"Whether (the 'B' sample) comes back positive or negative, it's still a death sentence" as far as Allmendinger's reputation, Keselowski said.

But mostly, the driver had some thoughts about ingesting any sort of substance that might boost performance – or even health.

Here's what he told reporters at New Hampshire:

My personal belief that nothing should be allowed. Nothing. I don't feel like you should be able to take Flintstones (vitamin) pills. It's my personal belief. You're race car drivers, you should have to overcome it. I think it's a bunch of bullshit people should be allowed to take supplements, any of those things. I don't think that's right. I don't think any athlete should be allowed to take that. But that's my own personal belief.

...

At end of day, there are certain things still allowed. Who gets to pick and choose what they are? I don't know. I don't understand that process. My own personal code of avoiding (a positive test) is to take nothing at all.

But when you go in that room to have a drug test – and I've never taken drugs in my life, I'm scared shitless of it and it's honestly a phobia of mine – I go in that room and I'm still scared. Becauese you know if something goes wrong, it's a death sentence for your career. It's over. And it's in human hands, and by the very nature of it being in human hands, there's a potential for error.

I'd like to sit here and believe it's gone through all the processes to make sure it's done right and no one would go out on a limb without making sure it was checked, checked and back-checked, but I also know that the course of history shows that humans make mistakes even when they check, check and re-check. That's why airplanes crash. That's how things go.

There's mixed emotions for sure on my end. I wish the pool of athletes that compete and make money like we do – whether it's here in NASCAR or the NFL – it would be my preference that we're allowed to take nothing, and that's it your job to just do it. To just go out there and perform through the pain or whatever ails you. But obviously, that's not the situation. Until we get together as a society and make that a position, there's always going to be this gray area in society of what supplement is right and what is not.

I laugh out loud when I read that people say, 'Well I have my supplements checked.' Like there's some special list of supplements that are OK, but these aren't! What kind of world is that? That's terrible. Nothing should be allowed. Because then it comes down to if you've got a doctor or a lawyer who says, 'This is OK and this is not.' And I think we all know you can get a doctor or a lawyer these days to say you're OK with anything you do.

It reminds me of an old Jeff Foxworthy joke about the difference between kids and senior citizens: You worry about drugs with both of them, the only difference is one is legal and one is not. I remember having grandmas and so forth that took drugs that would knock you out. They couldn't even stand up. And they were all legal. They might not be legal in this sport, but you still have to wonder about those things.

I'm sure I have different views than everyone else. I don't think there needs to be any committee that approves drugs or supplements because I think you shouldn't be allowed to take anything. You should just man up and drive the damn race car.

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NASCAR New Hampshire Starting Lineup 2012: Kyle Busch Leads Loudon Qualifying

Kyle Busch qualified the way he practiced on Friday -- at the top of the chart.

Edging Kasey Kahne by .003 seconds and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin by .004, Busch won the pole for Sunday's Lenox Industrial Tools 301 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway with a lap at 133.417 mph.

The last of 44 drivers to make a qualifying attempt -- because he was fastest in opening practice -- Busch prevailed in an intensely competitive Friday qualifying session to win his first Coors Light pole award of the season, his first at New Hampshire and the ninth of his career.

Kahne (133.403 mph) will start next to Busch on the front row, with Hamlin (133.399 mph) taking the green flag from the third starting spot in the 19th Cup race of the season. Martin Truex Jr. (133.338 mph) will start fourth, followed by two-time New Hampshire winner Clint Bowyer (133.319 mph).

Ryan Newman qualified sixth, followed by the Hendrick Motorsports trio of Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Reigning Cup champion Tony Stewart, last week's winner at Daytona, starts 10th. Series leader Matt Kenseth will take the green deep in the field, from the 27th position on the grid.

Busch came perilously close to the outside wall near the end of his money lap but kept his car clean.

"I got in the throttle really early in (Turns) 3 and 4, trying to make speed and was able to finish it," Busch said. "But the car slipped right at the last second when you get to that older asphalt -- it seems like this tire (new from Goodyear for this race) is different from the older tire, where you lose just a pinch of grip -- it slid out right to the cushion point, I guess you'd say. But, no, there's no mark on the car, so it's a good day."

Hamlin posted his lap despite the absence of crew chief Darian Grubb, who is celebrating the birth of his daughter Gabriella, who arrived Monday morning. Mike Wheeler, Hamlin's race engineer, took Grubb's place on the pit box.

Hamlin thought he lost the pole coming to the green on his first qualifying lap.

"Yeah, I thought maybe I could have gotten to the green a little bit better," Hamlin said. "You know your first lap's going to be the money lap, so I typically run into Turn 1 -- really at all racetracks -- a little bit easier and try to make up the ground as I go.

"But with qualifying as tight as it is, you've got to maximize everything to get poles, and obviously that was the difference."

Mike Bliss was the slowest of eight drivers required to qualify on speed and failed to make the 43-car field.

Here is the starting lineup for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway:

  1. Kyle Busch
  2. Kasey Kahne
  3. Denny Hamlin
  4. Martin Truex Jr.
  5. Clint Bowyer
  6. Ryan Newman
  7. Jimmie Johnson
  8. Jeff Gordon
  9. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  10. Tony Stewart
  11. Greg Biffle
  12. Kevin Harvick
  13. Brian Vickers
  14. Paul Menard
  15. Kurt Busch
  16. Joey Logano
  17. Regan Smith
  18. Bobby Labonte
  19. David Ragan
  20. Marcos Ambrose
  21. Carl Edwards
  22. Brad Keselowski
  23. Aric Almirola
  24. Sam Hornish Jr.
  25. Jeff Burton
  26. David Reutimann
  27. Matt Kenseth
  28. Jamie McMurray
  29. Landon Cassill
  30. Travis Kvapil
  31. Juan Pablo Montoya
  32. Josh Wise
  33. Casey Mears
  34. Joe Nemechek
  35. Dave Blaney
  36. Michael McDowell
  37. Ken Schrader
  38. JJ Yeley
  39. David Gilliland
  40. David Stremme
  41. Scott Riggs
  42. Kelly Bires
  43. Stephen Leicht
DNQ: Mike Bliss
Continue

NASCAR At New Hampshire: Joey Logano Talks About Uncertain Future

Has Joey Logano inquired about the possibility of driving Penske Racing's No. 22 car next year?

Logano was asked that very question on Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and he didn't exactly deny his interest if the ride becomes available.

"Obviously, right now we have to look at all our options out here trying to do what's the best opportunity for my future," Logano said. "And that's talking to as many people as we can and seeing what's available."

With Matt Kenseth likely joining Joe Gibbs Racing for next season, Logano is under pressure to perform. He needs to show that he continues to deserve a ride with JGR – whether that continues to be in the No. 20 car or a fourth team created by JGR specifically for Logano.

If not, Logano is likely out of a Cup car at JGR and would need to decide on his next move.

The best way for Logano to demonstrate he belongs with a top-flight NASCAR team – be it JGR, Penske or another organization – is by winning races. And if the 22-year-old driver can win another race in the next eight weeks, it might be enough to secure himself a spot in the Chase for the first time in his career.

Add everything together and it's easy to understand why this is a stressful time for Logano.

"I feel pressure from both ends," Logano said. "You want to be able to focus 100 percent on what you're doing right now, trying to make the Chase. During the week we're trying to figure out what my future is gonna be. And when I get here on the weekend, I try and put all that stuff in the back of my mind and try and focus 100 percent on what I having going on this weekend and trying to win a race."

As it often does, winning tends to be a cure-all, and that is Logano's approach as he attempts to balance the immediate pressure with trying to determine what his future may hold.

"On the race track you can only control so much of your destiny, but if I can control it on the race track, I then can control it on the other side as well," Logano said referring to his uncertain future.

"I say it all the time: 'Winning races will make all the other stuff come along a lot quicker.' We're getting there, slowly but surely."

Continue

Danica Patrick Knows NASCAR Loudon Race Presents Challenge

NASCAR was interested in learning more about Danica Patrick's Daytona Nationwide Series crash, in which her steering column move sharply upward and left her with a bruised arm last week.

Patrick, speaking to reporters on Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, said crew chief Tony Eury Jr. told her NASCAR planned to stop by the shop and take photos of the car's interior to "make sure all the (safety features) did what they were supposed to do."

"The point of contact along with the sheer speed that it hit at, Tony said the clip got moved back like 10 inches or something like that," Patrick said. "In his words it was a 'good lick.'"

Patrick's attention is now focused on this weekend's Nationwide race at New Hampshire, a track where she has limited experience in a stock car. She has made just one start at Loudon – two years ago, when she finished in 30th place and five laps behind the leaders.

"Hopefully, (Saturday's race) goes a lot better than the first time I was here a couple of years ago, and I'm sure it will to some degree," Patrick said. "I think our season is coming along, as far as getting faster all the time, working on things throughout the year like qualifying and restarts and things like that.

"Short tracks are the biggest area I need to improve in. I need to keep my expectations realistic this weekend and keep improving from there on where I've been at on these kinds of tracks."

Although she has just one top-10 finish on the year, Patrick feels her team is better than the results have indicated. And to get those results, Patrick made it clear what needs to happen.

"I'm finding improvement," Patrick said. "It's just a matter of putting the weekend together and catching some luck and getting some results that I feel we deserve as a team."

Continue

Dale Earnhardt Jr. At New Hampshire 2012: We're Ready To Gamble

As you may recall, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his No. 88 team have been one of the most conservative groups in NASCAR this year. In situations which called for a decision between points racing and trying something risky for a win, Earnhardt Jr. and crew chief Steve Letarte have gone for the sure points every time.

But with eight races to go until the Chase and with Earnhardt Jr. second in the Sprint Cup Series point standings, that's about to change.

"We've been the team that's kind of played it really careful, you know?" Earnhardt Jr. said Friday at New Hampshire. "... I know it's just a few weeks later, but we feel better about our position to make the Chase. If we're in that position again, we can gamble. I like that, and hopefully we can win some more races doing that."

Earnhardt Jr. most notably played it safe at Pocono, where he emphatically told Letarte not to run him out of gas when it looked like the day was turning into a fuel-mileage race. Instead of having a shot at the win, he finished eighth.

At the time, Earnhardt Jr. said he simply didn't feel secure enough in the Chase to take risks. Wins were important, he said, but making the playoffs was even more so.

But sitting second in the point standings and with a whopping 110-point cushion inside the top 10, Earnhardt Jr. said his team is finally ready to chance a mediocre finish in the name of victory.

"We can now," he said. "... We're not going to gamble foolishly, but we can go the opposite direction we went at Pocono."

While Earnhardt Jr. has one win – and thus wouldn't start the Chase in last place as of today – he'd prefer to have more bonus points heading into the final 10 races. In addition, he said the No. 88 team has more to learn in the next eight weeks.

"We just want to keep preparing for the Chase," he said. "We're not ready for the Chase. We want to learn more, know more, feel more prepared. We'll do everything we can in the next couple months to be ready."

This has been Earnhardt Jr.'s best and most consistent season ever, and he's even avoided his typical summer letdown so far. One reason is when he arrives at the track, the car is already competitive and the team doesn't have to spend time dialing it in – unlike in years past.

"I've been in the sport and had teams at times where everybody's getting it and everything's working and cars show up ready and fast, and that's happening for us," he said. "I just hope we can keep it going. These things sort of cycle around and teams come and go as far as their strengths. ... We've got a good thing going on."

Continue

Kevin Harvick Was Willing To Miss Daytona For Birth Of Son, Might Win Husband Of The Year

At 7:30 a.m. last Saturday – the morning of the Coke Zero 400 – Kevin Harvick boarded his plane in Daytona Beach with wife DeLana and headed back to North Carolina.

DeLana, who was close to giving birth, needed to get home. And her husband was willing to stay with her if she went into labor – even if it meant losing valuable points toward NASCAR's Chase.

"Everybody knew where I stood on that," Kevin said. "... I would hate for anybody to miss that. There's nothing around here (in NASCAR) that's really even comparable to it.

"Richard (Childress) has been a big supporter of that. It's always been, 'Family first, and we'll figure the rest out later.'"

Think about that: Harvick would rather miss the Chase than miss the birth of his son. So as it turns out, he might be nominated for Husband of the Year.

He may not actually win the award, though, since he delayed getting DeLana to the hospital on Sunday morning. By the time she got there, it only took two hours to give birth to a baby boy named Keelan.

"Dad waited a little long to get her to the hospital," Kevin said. "I was obviously not her favorite person as they told her they wouldn't give her an epidural. She had it all natural, no drugs or nothing."

At least DeLana got a hospital ride from a professional race car driver. But Kevin said he took it easy and avoided going too fast through the corners or hitting bumps, because "she was obviously in a lot of pain."

"I didn't get yelled at on the drive over, so that was my only goal," he cracked.

Now that mother and baby are healthy, Kevin acknowledged the anxiety of worrying about the impending birth had been weighing on him in recent weeks. Would the baby be healthy? Would DeLana make it through OK? He couldn't get those thoughts out of his mind, he said.

After Sunday, he added, there's a "huge sense of relief."

The Harvicks already secured a Twitter name for the baby – it's @KeelanHarvick – and a website domain name in order to protect their child.

"I didn't want some crazy-ass fan getting ahold of" the names and misusing them, Kevin said.

By the way, Keelan's mom and dad are hoping the boy will choose a safer profession than racing.

"We're hoping for golf clubs over go-karts," he said. "But whatever he wants."

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