June 23, 2009

Kurt Busch's 2008 was more than met the eye

In the 2008 Lenox Industrial Tools 301, Kurt Busch seemingly stole a trophy when he stayed on track and benefited from the race being shortened, but there was more to it than that. According to SceneDaily.com, fuel mileage was the hidden factor in that victory.

“In our eyes, it will always be a fuel-mileage win," Busch said. "I don’t think that the record was ever set straight about what all came down there during the June race last year."

Our View: Regardless of whether that event was won because of fuel mileage or rain, he struggled mightily that day. In the fall, however, he finished sixth, which makes him a driver to watch this week.

More Cup Series Newsbreakers

Island in the Storm: Martin Truex Jr.

There are horses for courses and one of Martin Truex Jr.'s favorite tracks is New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Located in his backyard, Truex turned a lot of laps on this track in the NASCAR Busch North Series (now named the Camping World East Series), but he didn't have huge success until the last two years. Once he found the groove, however, he's been great.

In the Camping World East series, he won the 2003 New England 125 from the pole and took the 2005 Nationwide New England 200 after starting seventh. But on the heels of that, his rookie season in the Cup series was tough. In 2006, Truex finished outside the top 15 in both events. With an 18th in July and a 22nd in September, however, he gave the team a good set of notes from which to work.

They applied the lessons learned as a freshman and Truex swept the top five in his sophomore season. When he finished third in the July race, he had a ton of momentum on his side. He had recently won at Dover and was riding a three-race top-five streak. Earning a fourth such finish was seemingly easy, but it hasn't been quite so effortless since.

He's entered this race with progressively poorer results. In fall of that same year, Truex had just finished 15th at Richmond International Raceway the week before. Prior to the July 2008 race, he struggled through three consecutive finishes outside the top 15 and that fall, he was riding a four-race streak of sub-15th-place finishes. He managed to stop the bleeding at New Hampshire each time, finishing fifth in fall 2007, fourth in July 2008 and finally seventh last year.

That gives him an active four-race top-10 streak and only one other driver can claim as much. All eyes will be on the other racer Jimmie Johnson this week, which leaves you with an excellent opportunity to sneak up on the competition.

This will be his biggest challenge yet. Since he finished sixth in the Southern 500, Truex has been struggling. This year, he'll pull into New Hampshire with a five-race streak of finishes outside the top 15, but this is his safe harbor, his "Island in the Storm"—at least in recent years—and he is a dark horse to finish inside the top five.

Martin Truex Jr. at New Hampshire

Race DateSeriesFinStart
13-Sep-03CW East1511
19-Jul-03CW East11
14-Sep-02CW East2820
20-Jul-02CW East411
11-May-02CW East318

Kahne to run new Dodge engine

Kasey Kahne will run the new Dodge engine at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, according to @DustinLong.

Our View: He previously used this same engine at Dover and Michigan. In its debut, he ran strong at Dover and finished sixth. At Michigan, however, he finished only 21st, so it is uncertain how this impacts his fantasy odds.

More Cup Series Newsbreakers

New Hampshire Yahoo! preview

This week starts the race for the Chase for the Sprint Cup and it is the most important race to date. They only get even more important with each passing week. Check out this week's Yahoo! Fantasy Preview (.pdf) for a sneak peak at who'll be their toughest competitors.

Kahne rumors distract at wrong time

Fresh off his victory in the Toyota / SaveMart 350k, rumors are flying that Richard Petty Motorsports will switch Kasey Kahne to Toyota.

Our View: Rumors have a way of deflecting drivers from concentrating on what matters most, but Kahne has enough momentum that this should not have an immediate effect.

More Cup Series Newsbreakers