Well, it's June and the NASCAR season - everything from the K&N Pro Series East to Sprint Cup -is at full speed. With the first one-third of the season checked off, there remain 16 races left on the regular season docket in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, which will be rolling into New Hampshire yet again (July 10-13), something it's done every year since 1993.
And while it's been 22 years since NASCAR's elite series took its first laps around the 1.058-mile oval, it's been a half-dozen years since the Magic Mile has seen a repeat winner. That's the longest active streak of any track in all of NASCAR. Here's a look at the last 12 winners at NHMS:
2013 - Brian Vickers/Matt Kenseth
2012 - Kasey Kahne/Denny Hamlin
2011 - Ryan Newman/Tony Stewart
2010 - Jimmie Johnson/Clint Bowyer*
2009 - Joey Logano/Mark Martin
2008 - Kurt Busch/Greg Biffle
*Bowyer won the 2007 Sept. race at NHMS
That's some pretty elite company; but there are plenty of drivers that have a chance to keep the streak alive in the July 13 Camping World RV Sales 301. Here are the top-9 pilots that could make it 13 consecutive races without a repeat winner. The 10th-and-final pick was made after tallying votes from the staff here at New Hampshire Motor Speedway:
- Kevin Harvick - It's been 14 races since Happy Harvick last visited Victory Lane at the Magic Mile. But if there's a driver that's going to keep the streak alive, it's going to be the first-year pilot for Stewart-Haas Racing. Harvick has already won two races and led 796 laps this season, including at least one lap in all but two races.
- Kyle Busch - New Hampshire is another one of those tracks that Rowdy has dominated in the Truck and Nationwide series, but hasn't found the Magic Mile's Victory Lane since 2006. That said, Busch finished second in both races in 2013 and, if he can stay out of trouble, will be right there again in all likelihood on July 13, too.
- Brad Keselowski - The 2012 Sprint Cup Series champion has the best average finish (12.6) of all drivers to never win a Cup race at the Magic Mile. In nine career starts, Keselowski has five top-10s, including three top-fives. History says he'll be in contention on Sunday, and ready to make a serious run at keeping the streak alive.
- Jeff Gordon - A three-time winner at New Hampshire, Gordon will enter July's race with seven top-fives in his last 15 starts here. It's hard to believe the 24's last win at the Magic Mile came back in 1998, but Gordon has looked very strong this season. Not only has he been competitive at every track, but he's found victory lane, winning at Kansas. Expect Gordon to be a serious threat on July 13.
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. - Junior has never won a race at New Hampshire. But that doesn't mean he's never contended. The 88 led 17 laps last September and has seven career top-fives here; and while he's never finished better than third, Earnhardt Jr. is having a strong season, showing speed at tracks he's struggled in the past. He'll have a shot to keep the streak alive.
- Carl Edwards - Cousin Carl is one of those guys that you feel as though he could win at any track. And while that hasn't been the case yet at the Magic Mile, wouldn't it be a huge thrill to watch his trademark backflip on the Granite Stripe?
- Martin Truex Jr. - While the New Jersey native has yet to find victory lane in a Cup car at NHMS, Truex has been to there in a Nationwide car. He even led 98 laps last September before fading to 10th.
- Kyle Larson - The rookie has turned heads seemingly every week. Having some time on the track ahead of time certainly won't hurt his chances, either, as Larson and teammate Jamie McMurray were at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on June 3 and 4 for two-day test session.
- Austin Dillon - Another rookie with a lack of experience, but a heck of a resume. And hey, wouldn't the No. 3 look pretty nice in victory lane?
- Danica Patrick (NHMS staff pick) - Even Patrick would probably admit this is a bit far-fetched. After all, in two starts at the Magic Mile, Patrick has finishes of 37th and 27th. But she did finish on the lead lap last September, which, if you know NHMS, is a feat in of itself. Now, can she make a move to the front? We'll see.