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5 Best Races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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The "Magic Mile" in Loudon, New Hampshire has served New England NASCAR fans for 30 years now. The one-mile, flat race track has hosted some pretty incredible NASCAR moments throughout the years. What are the five best races in the history of New Hampshire Motor Speedway?

The “Magic Mile” in Loudon, New Hampshire has served New England NASCAR fans for 30 years now. The one-mile, flat race track has hosted some pretty incredible NASCAR moments throughout the years. What are the five best races in the history of New Hampshire Motor Speedway?

5. 1996 Jiffy Lube 300 (Ernie Irvan Returns to Victory Lane)

When Ernie Irvan was injured in a practice crash at Michigan in August of 1994, he was lucky to escape with his life, and him returning to a race car was not on many minds. Well, against all odds, he returned in late 1995 before returning to full-time competition in 1996. In July of 1996, Irvan and the Cup Series rolled into New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The result was a track record for lead changes in a Cup Series race with 23, a record that has only been tied in 2002. A total of 15 drivers from the likes of Jeff Gordon to Robert Pressley led at some point during the day, but the race changed at lap 237. Jeff Gordon, who had led the most laps, lost the lead to Irvan, and Gordon eventually had to retire from the race with ignition troubles.

Irvan pulled away on a good pit strategy to take home the win. It was his first win in two seasons, and it was one of the most improbable wins in NASCAR history. Crew chief Larry McReynolds summed this race up to the press afterwards by saying, “Ladies and gentleman of the press, mission accomplished.”

4. 1999 Jiffy Lube 300 (Jeff Burton Wins On Fuel Mileage)

New Hampshire is notorious for being a track that is hard to pass on. When Jeff Burton qualified in 38th on July 11, 1999, many counted him out. Quietly and slowly, Burton picked his was through the field.

Meanwhile, up front, Tony Stewart and John Andretti dominated the later stages of the race leading a combined 178 of the 300 laps run, including 163 consecutively from lap 136 onwards. The race came down to fuel mileage as two cautions just inside of 100 laps to go caused Stewart and Andretti to roll the dice on fuel. Burton was nestled in third spot in the closing laps.

With three laps to go, both Stewart and Andretti ran out of fuel almost simultaneously, handing the lead to Burton. Burton would go on to win the race over Kenny Wallace, Jeff Gordon, Dale Jarrett and Bill Elliott in the top-5. It was Burton’s fourth win in the first 18 races of the 1999 season.

3. 2021 Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 (Aric Almirola Turns the Playoff Grid Upside Down)

After pointing his way into the Playoffs during each of his first three seasons with Stewart-Haas Racing, Aric Almirola was struggling in 2021. He was mired in 27th in points heading into the 22nd race of the season at New Hampshire. It was a race mired by rain.

On lap six, it started raining, and a few of the frontrunners spun out in turn one, bringing out the caution and the red flag for rain. NASCAR eventually restarted the race, and it became a race against the sun. Darkness was supposed to set in about when the race was going to end, and Almirola slowly worked his way to the front.

Almirola took the lead on lap 274, but Christopher Bell was charging. On lap 284, NASCAR said the race would end in 10 laps, shortening the distance to 293 laps. Almirola would hold off the hard-charging Bell for the win, the third of his career.

2. 2018 Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 (Bump and Run)

The 2018 NASCAR Cup Series season was dominated by the “Big 3” of Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, and Martin Truex Jr. The 2018 Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 came down to two of that group. Busch took the lead of the race with 43 laps to go after a pit stop under caution, with Harvick just behind.

Shockingly enough, these two had not run up front that much early on in the race. However, the two pulled away from the field on that late restart. Harvick ended up closing in on Busch in the final 10 laps.

With seven laps to go, Harvick pulled off a textbook bump and run in turn two, giving him the lead. He ran away and hid to take home the win. It was the 15th win for the “Big 3” that season to that point in only 20 races.

1. 2007 Lenox Industrial Tools 300 (Denny Hamlin vs Jeff Gordon)

One of the most competitive New Hampshire races in recent memory, six different drivers led 30 or more laps. Denny Hamlin, in just his second Cup Series season, had been incredibly close to winning his first race of the 2007 season, but he never could close the deal. He took the lead on a pit stop under caution with 45 laps to go.

Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. ran 1-2, but Jeff Gordon began moving his way forward. With seven laps to go, Gordon passed Truex Jr. for second. Gordon then set his sights on Hamlin.

Slowly but surely, Gordon ran Hamlin down on the final lap. He had one shot at Hamlin heading into turn three on the last lap, and he barely got underneath Hamlin. Hamlin was just able to hang on by just less than one car length for his first win of the 2007 season.

The Cup Series returns to New England this weekend, and the Playoffs are on everyone’s mind. Could this weekend’s race add to the list of great moments at New Hampshire this weeekend?

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

All Posts