With the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship moving to an elimination-style format for the first time, the stakes have never been higher for the annual SYLVANIA 300 on Sept. 21 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. One race team could have the inside track for a strong run on Sept. 21, as Stewart-Haas Racing will be in town for a test and tune session on Sept. 2 and 3.
With seven combined wins at the Magic Mile - Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick will log laps and exercise their cars in an effort to get the best possible results in the Sept. 21 SYLVANIA 300, the second race in the first round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.
Michael McDowell, a part-time driver of the No. 95 for Leavine Family Racing, will also take part in the test session.
"I always look forward to going to New Hampshire. I like that type of track because it's flat; similar to the tracks out west where I started my racing career," said Harvick. "There's a lot of braking. You have to really work on getting your car through the center of the corner and still have the forward drive you need up off the corner."
A detailed schedule of each driver's media availability will be distributed to inquiring media as soon as it is released by team representatives.
Harvick is a lock for the Chase, having won twice already this year. The first-year Stewart-Haas pilot ranks second in laps led and first in poles with four. The test session could benefit Harvick well, as he was in contention to win July's Camping World RV Sales 301 before a gamble on fuel mileage dropped the No. 4 from a potential win to a 30th-place finish.
Busch has struggled with consistency in his first year behind the wheel of the No. 41 for SHR, but thanks to a win in his sixth start, he will almost certainly be a Chaser come September. New Hampshire is one of Busch's best tracks, statistically, with a 15.4 average finishing position and having led seven percent of the total laps he's run there in 27 career starts.
Patrick, who is still in search of her first-career Sprint Cup Series win, has improved on her finishing position each time she's raced at the Magic Mile. In fact, her 22nd-place finish in the July 13 Camping World RV Sales 301 marked the first time she finished ahead of her qualifying position (she started 29th) at the 1.058-mile oval.
Stewart, who has yet to find victory lane in 2014, will certainly be a threat to win the championship should he find his way into the Chase between now the final regular-season race on Sept. 6. New Hampshire Motor Speedway has been very good to Smoke over the years, as the three-time Sprint Cup champion has three-career wins and an 11.7 average finishing position in 30 starts here.
The grandstands will be open and free of charge to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. The two-day test session will take place a little more than two weeks before NASCAR returns to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the SYLVANIA 300 on Sunday, Sept. 21.