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AAA 400 Fantasy Preview

"You want answers?"

"I think I'm entitled."

"You want answers!?"

"I WANT THE TRUTH!"

NASCAR fans, "you can't handle the truth!"

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Each week we take a look back at the top performers from around the region for the weekend that was.

Simple enough task this time around, considering the New England stock car racing scene was focused on the New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the NASCAR Sprint Cup's annual Sylvania 300 weekend. And considering that a four-race 'Short Track Saturday' was one of the highlights of the entire three days in Loudon, there were plenty of performances to choose from.

Without further ado, lets find out who made The Podium this week:

1. Doug Coby, Milford, Conn.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour point leader earned his first career New Hampshire Motor Speedway victory when he won the F.W. Webb 100 and extended his series lead to 21 points with only two races remaining.

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LOUDON, N.H. – The last time I sat in the grandstands to watch a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Tony Stewart was a rookie, the Red Sox still hadn't won a World Series since 1918 and the average price for a gallon of gasoline was $1.14.

And though I didn't sit out in my favorite spot down in Turns 3 and 4 for Sunday's Sylvania 300, I did decide to do something drastically different.

Walking up souvenir alley behind the main grandstands first thing in the morning, something was happening around me. Fans were lined up by the dozens at the merchandise trailers for drivers like Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski – standing in long lines ready to fork over hard-earned cash for hats, shirts and sweatshirts emblazoned with the names and numbers of their favorite drivers.

Presumably, they still find a way to identify with drivers – either through personalities, performances or manufacturers – enough so that they form an allegiance. Then they go sit in the sprawling grandstands to watch that car, listen in on a radio scanner and live with the ups and downs of everything that can happen in a 300-lap race on a mile track.

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“Short Track Saturday” is less than 24 hours away, and there's plenty of reason for fans of stock-car racing in New England to tune in.

And, by tune in, of course, I mean come to New Hampshire Motor Speedway to watch in person.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, ACT Late Model Tour and NELCAR Legends Tour will all hold events on Saturday at The Magic Mile – a day's fill for the race fan in all of us. If you're undecided about what it all means – or why it deserves your attention – I'll tell you why it's important for all four divisions.

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FANTASY: Chasing the Magic

Thursday, September 20, 2012

SYLVANIA 300 Fantasy Preview

It's race week here at New Hampshire Motor Speedway!  For the second time this year, the NASCAR circus will roll into the small town of Loudon at New England's only Sprint Cup Series track.

At NHMS, we focus on providing the best experience possible in just two weeks of the year, and it's our time to shine.  Riding the golf cart around the facility on Thursday, I could tell a difference even from morning to afternoon.  This place has sprung to life!

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He is still the shining star of New England stock car racing, even as he now says he's onto his “third life,” a life that has him no longer an active driver but an important presence on the television side of NASCAR.

And today, Ricky Craven still sees New Hampshire Motor Speedway as a necessary stop on the path to a Sprint Cup Series career for young, aspiring drivers.When the Newburgh, Maine, native won the Chevy Dealers of New England 250 at New Hampshire back in 1991, it tossed his career into a blazing spotlight.

“Without the Nationwide Series to compete against, it still would have been – so what? You can succeed on a regional level, but can you master these guys on a national level?” said Craven, who now is a regular on ESPN's NASCAR programming, including color commentary for select Nationwide Series races. “What I knew (in 1991) and still know today – Dave Dion, Dick McCabe, the Dragon brothers, Mike Rowe – those guys that I raced against were great drivers, salt of the earth people, and they were as good as guys I raced against all the way up through the Sprint Cup Series.

“But that doesn't matter. You know and I know how good those guys were, and you can tell people that until you're blue in the face, but they want to see you against the best there is. When I won that Chevy Dealers 250, I was able to go against guys like Harry Gant – who had won seven races in a row between Sprint Cup and Nationwide – and Chuck Bown, and I went on to win the race. Had there not been a New Hampshire Motor Speedway – had there not been a Nationwide race that particular weekend there – there would have been no opportunity for me to compete at a national level on a big track against people that I needed to impress to catch their attention.”

Today's NASCAR K&N Pr Continue...

Each week we take a look back at the top performers from the weekend that was across the region.

There's no shortage of “big” events as we head into the biggest racing weekend of the year at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and some of the performances from the weekend will carry a number of teams into The Magic Mile with a strong dose of momentum.

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GEICO 400 Fantasy Preview

It's crunch time!  The Chase field is all set and the 10-race shootout for a championship kicks off this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway.

For a driver like Jimmie Johnson, he's known for the better part of the summer that a Chase berth was assured.  For his teammate (and car owner) Jeff Gordon, he was looking in the rearview mirror at the Richmond finish line to see how many cars back Kyle Busch was running ... just enough, to put it simply.

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It's Friday again. Time to roll the ol' Mini Stock out of the garage and dust it off for a test spin around the cul-de-sac at the end of the street...

I THINK IT'S time to throw this comparison out there: Brian Hoar is the Jimmie Johnson of the ACT Late Model Tour.

The championships are one thing. Hoar has eight ACT Late Model Tour championships, the most the most of any active driver and the most in Tour history. Johnson, obviously, has five NASCAR Sprint Cup titles. Hoar leads all drivers in history with 37 points wins, while Johnson has 58 career Cup wins – among the active leaders.

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Federated Auto Parts 400 Fantasy Preview

If Carl Edwards wins this weekend, Jeff Gordon finishes in 12th (without leading a lap) and Kyle Busch finishes 23rd (without leading a lap), Edwards makes the Chase (if my math is correct).  That's a lot of "if's," so let's keep it simple.

Edwards has not won a race in a year and half, and Kyle Busch has 13 top-10s in 15 Richmond starts.  The odds of those "if's" coming to fruition are similar odds to, let's say, Aric Almirola (zero top-fives this season) winning this weekend's race.  It's not impossible, but it's certainly improbable.

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And then there were five. With 11 of the Chase spots already locked up, Saturday night’s race at Richmond will serve as the final opportunity to clinch that coveted 12th position in the Sprint Cup playoff. And it’s going to take a win to do it. Kyle Busch currently holds the second wild-card spot, but if Jeff Gordon, Marcos Ambrose, Ryan Newman or Joey Logano are able to find their way into victory lane then they will leapfrog Rowdy for the final spot. Here’s a look at the 10 hottest drivers heading to Richmond:

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Each week we take a look back at the top performers from around the region.

Labor Day may serve as the traditional end of summer, but things are only just heating up on the northeast's racing scene. From Late Models to Modifieds, the racing around New England (and beyond) over the past week was as intense as it's been all season.

Without further ado, let's see who made The Podium this week:

1. Brian Hoar, Williston, Vt.

The eight-time ACT Late Model Tour champion earned his second win at Thunder Road International Speedbowl in as many ACT races there this season, capturing his second career Bond Auto Labor Day Classic 200 on Sunday. Hoar used a great pit stop to gain track position over the rest of the leaders and then led the final 93 laps en route to the victory.

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BARRE, Vt. – They may have changed Thunder Road International Speedbowl this season, but they didn't do much to change the outcome of ACT Late Model Tour racing there.

Eight-time ACT champion Brian Hoar won his second career Bond Auto Labor Day Classic 200 on Sunday afternoon, closing to within single digits of the point lead with his second straight victory on the finicky quarter-mile. Hoar led the final 93 laps and beat Wayne Helliwell and former track champion Cris Michaud for the win.

ACT officials confirmed that heading into the season finale at Airborne Speedway on October 6, Hoar trails Helliwell by just eight points as he chases a record ninth career championship. Two weeks ago that deficit was 44 points, but Hoar has rattled off two straight wins – four in nine races overall this season – to axe away most of Helliwell's previous advantage.

“It's a lot of fun racing a guy like Wayne,” said Hoar in Victory Lane, where he also visited in the second race of the season after winning the Merchants Bank 150 at Thunder Road.

But his visit to the track then was much different that that one back in May.

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