After a short track at Iowa, superspeedway at Daytona and 1.5-mile track at Kentucky last weekend, the NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers are gearing up for another discipline, a 1-mile track at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this week. That has JR Motorsports excited, as they know they have the cars to compete at the Magic Mile on Saturday afternoon.
In the two races on one-mile tracks this year, JR Motorsports drivers have thrived.
In 13 starts at New Hampshire, points leader Elliott Sadler has just one top-five and four top-10 finishes, with a highest finish of fourth in 2005. But, with his pace at Phoenix as well as Dover this year, he knows that his No. 1 Chevrolet could be a factor on Saturday afternoon.
“New Hampshire Motor Speedway is a fun track,” the Virginia native said ahead of this weekend’s race. “We’ve had some good runs at 1-mile tracks so far this year, being one of only four to make the Dash 4 Cash in Dover. My OneMain Financial team has worked hard all season long to bring fast cars and collect playoff points. Kevin (Meendering, crew chief) has made some good calls from atop the pit box, and I look forward to building on our season strategy and getting us a win.”
Sadler, came home fifth at Phoenix and seventh at Dover, as he’s looking to go three-for-three in top 10 finishes on one-mile tracks this season.
The guy chasing him in the standings, his rookie teammate William Byron, has only raced at New Hampshire twice before, neither in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. But, both of those races resulted in a win for the 19-year old phenom.
“I am really excited to get to New Hampshire,” Byron said. “It’s really one of my favorite tracks and I know JR Motorsports has been great on short tracks this season. We’re ready to get there and hopefully get a win.”
In the K&N East Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at New Hampshire, Byron started on the pole and won each race too. On top of that, Byron has an average finish of 5.0 on tracks measuring 1 mile in length. The Charlotte native captured the pole earlier this season at Phoenix.
They will have their hands full with another JR Motorsports driver in Justin Allgaier. In six NXS starts at Loudon, Justin Allgaier has four top- 10 finishes, with a best finish of sixth in 2010. Last year, Allgaier drove to a seventh-place finish in the 200-lap race.
In five races on tracks measuring 1 mile or shorter this season, the Illinois native’s average starting position is 6.6 and his finishing position is 7.4. He captured a win at Phoenix and the runner-up position at Richmond.
“I really enjoy going to New Hampshire,” said the driver of the No. 7 Chevrolet. “Making sure your car handles well on the long run and finding a good balance in your car is key. With it being a flat track, a lot of the setups we run at most places won’t work, so you’ve got to tailor what you do normally and try to learn to make your New Hampshire setup better. I’ve been fortunate enough to have some success there in the past so that’s always a plus, but every time you go there you’ve got to keep pushing the limits because everybody is learning and gaining. It’s definitely going to be important to make sure we’re on our A game.”
We’ll also have to look out for the fourth JR Motorsports driver in Michael Annett too. New Hampshire is statistically one of his better tracks that he’s competed on. In his most recent NXS start there in 2013, Annett finished fifth. He has two top-10 finishes there as well. Annett’s 12.2 average finish at NHMS is among his best averages at any track. He has finished no worse than 19th in his five races.
“New Hampshire is a different sort of track than we’ve been on the last few weeks, so I’m looking forward to the experience,” Annett said. We’ve run well lately but had some bad luck with crashes not of our making. We are 10th in the points, and that’s a good thing. If we can string some solid runs together and stay out of other people’s messes, we can build some momentum for the playoffs. Jason (Stockert, crew chief) and the Pilot Flying J team are working hard and giving me good cars every week.”