Despite several struggles with local teams this past weekend, New England fans still won with an action-packed weekend of thrilling playoff racing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
NASCAR estimated a crowd of 95,000 and for those fans in attendance there was a little something for everyone. Guests had the chance to see a record breaking scratch ticket measuring 36-feet and 2-inches-tall by 18-feet and 8 inches-wide, a new member of the millionaire club and even some racing.
The excitement began Thursday with both qualifying and practice sessions for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the No. 6 U.S. Army Toyota set a new track record in NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series East when he captured the New Hampshire 125 pole. Ron Silk captured his fifth career mighty modified pole later that afternoon at a speed of 127.967 mph.
Thursday night New Hampshire Motor Speedway made it big with a Guinness Book World Record for the largest scratch ticket ever made. The N.H. Lottery unveiled the gigantic instant ticket during FanFest.
Friday, the stars of NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series hit “The Magic Mile” for a drama filled qualifying session. Rain delayed qualifying by 51 minutes but in the end it was Ryan “Rocketman” Newman who captured his sixth NHMS pole.
After qualifying the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East took to the track for the New Hampshire 125. Brett Moffitt finally scored his first win in the Granite State after finishing second twice last year.
Saturday’s tripleheader provided non-stop excitement for fans. The action started with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. Ron Silk started from the pole position and went bumper-to-bumper with all of the tour regulars to capture his third victory of the 2011 season and his second at “The Magic Mile.”
Then it was Kyle Busch’s turn to take on the 1.058-mile oval behind the wheel of a truck. The 26-year-old owner/driver lapped all but five cars and led 165 of 175 laps during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series F.W. Webb 175. The win was Busch’s third straight victory at NHMS in the series.
The American-Canadian Tour wrapped up the jam-packed day with its 50-lap shootout. Eddie MacDonald of Rowley, Mass. battled side-by-side with the No. 40VT of Nick Sweet until the last lap, capturing his second ACT Invitational checkered flag.
Sunday the excitement started bright and early with the NELCAR Legends Tour and it was a familiar face in victory lane. Shaun Buffington captured his eighth win in nine races at the speedway.
Jean Ransom of Andover, Mass. went home $1 million richer after her name was pulled by the N.H. Lottery during pre-race ceremonies. Ransom was one of 16 finalists from the N.H. Millionaire 3 instant scratch game to participate in the on-stage drawing in front of thousands of guests.
At 2 p.m. the anticipation was over. The green flag dropped on the SYLVANIA 300 and fans from throughout New England saw Chase racing at its best.
In the end, it was Tony Stewart who “Smoked” the field winning his second consecutive race in NASCAR’s version of the playoffs.
The driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet passed Clint Bowyer on the second to last lap after Bowyer played a fuel mileage game and lost. Ironically, in a similar dramatic finish last year Stewart ran out of gas on the last lap and it was Bowyer to cross the Granite Stripe first.
While the season of speed is coming to a close, don’t forget to mark your calendars because NASCAR returns to Loudon twice in 2012 on July 15 and Sept. 23. Tickets will go on sale soon so make sure you stay tuned by visiting www.nhms.com.