By HEATHER WILLIAMS
1:43 AM CDT, September 21, 2012
They call the New Hampshire Motor Speedway the "Magic Mile." I gotta be honest, I have no idea why. But can tell you that New Hampshire has the potential to be magical in both a good and bad way for most of the 12 chase drivers. If you are Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson or Denny Hamlin a win would make you look like a wizard after two weeks into the chase. If you are Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth or Kevin Harvick a bad run at New Hampshire to make your championship hopes disappear.
"It was a disappointing result (in Chicago), but we had a fast race car," said Gordon who sits 12th in the standings, 47 points behind leader Keselowski. The most points you can earn in one race is 48. "We had a great run from 19th to inside the top five, and I would have liked to have seen if we had anything for them at the end, but we'll put that event behind us and focus on trying to win Loudon this weekend. There is still a long way to go."
Gordon has three wins in New Hampshire, but none since 1999. His teammate Johnson also has three wins at the short track, but two if the three where in 2003.
In more recent years, Hamlin and Clint Bowyer have been two of the better drivers at the magic mile. Tony Stewart, Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman, Greg Biffle, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Harvick, Jeff Burton and Joe Nemechek also have found the Midas touch in New England.
“It feels really good to go back to New Hampshire during the Chase," said Kahne who won the most recent trip to New Hampshire. "The win in July was a big turning point for the team and should give everyone some more confidence this weekend. I think we found a good setup for the car last time, so we should have a good place to start from when we unload.”
Two interesting notes that also make New Hampshire a magical place in the chase. The winner of the second race in the chase has won the title the last three seasons (Johnson, twice and Stewart last season) and all 12 of the chase drivers finished in the top 13 there in July. Which means a bad finish and your title hopes could go poof.
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