Garage Swap: Cup Series Takes Center Stage
The north end garage at New Hampshire Motor Speedway has been the home of NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series for nearly two decades. But when stock car racing’s premier circuit returns to Loudon for the LENOX Industrial Tools 301 on July 15, they will have a new home in the infield center garage, a move that is expected to make life easier for teams and fans alike.
“This is a culmination of about four years of planning,” said John Zudell, New Hampshire Motor Speedway vice president of operations and development. “When we rearranged the south half of the infield in 2009, it started the conversation of putting the Sprint Cup Series in the center garage. This upcoming season, fans will be able to see Cup drivers in the center of the infield.”
Fans will now have a garage that’s far more accessible than previous years, while still providing teams more maneuverability – which is crucial given pre-race pit pass distribution has increased by nearly 300 percent.
“The increase brings a lot more fans close to the pit-road activities,” said Zudell of the spike in pre-race pit passes. “We’ve added two more crossover gates on the frontstretch that will give us more capacity to get people in and out in the rush just prior to the race.”
The switch in garage locations not only benefits fans, but the teams as well. The center garage, which sits directly behind victory lane, will lessen the time it takes to get from pit road back to the garage, and vice versa. The NASCAR Nationwide Series will now use the north end garage.
The process of preparing the infield for the garage swap also included a project to level the cold pit road. In recent years, pit stalls 1-28 had been level with pit road, while pits 29-43 were perched near the top of the pit wall. This meant for pits south of victory lane crews had to go up and over for a pit stop, while the others merely needed to jump down off the wall. In essence, leveling pit road has leveled the playing field for all teams.
A new pedestrian sidewalk through the tunnel beneath turn 2 will also contribute to infield accessibility.
Since purchasing the track on January 11, 2008, Speedway Motorsports, Inc. has made it a priority to upgrade the facility each season. While the 2012 construction might not provide the same “Wow! Factor” that Frank Webb’s Bath Center did in 2010 or the Panasonic scoreboard did in 2011, its goal is still very much the same: to ensure fans have the best experience possible.
For more details and ticket information on events at New Hampshire Motor Speedway or to purchase tickets to the LENOX Industrial Tools 301 and SYLVANIA 300 NASCAR weekends, please stop by our Ticket Office, visit the speedway website at www.nhms.com, or call our Ticket Hotline at (603) 783-4931.