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NASCAR

The Summer has Just Started and Tony Stewart is Already Hot

Tony Stewart prevailed yet again at the July Daytona race last week.  He now has three wins and would be seeded first in the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup if it started now.  The Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway was a really exciting race with plenty of action and wrecking.  This week will be much different.  This week NASCAR and Tony Stewart return to the short track of New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Lenox Industrial Tools 301.

The New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS) is a 1.058 mile track. Although there is 2-7 degrees of banking in the corners and 1 degree in the straight-aways, the track is basically flat.  The track is a true oval track.  The race is 301 laps or 318.46 miles.

Tony Stewart has picked up right where he left off last season.  He has three race wins tied with Brad Keselowski with the most race wins for a driver in NASCAR Sprint Cup this season.  Winning last week, he enters NHMS with all the momentum a driver can have.  During the summer months Tony Stewart typically comes alive and kicks it into gear, so his season is really just starting.  Last fall Tony had the second win of his season at this track on his way to winning five total races and the Championship.  Tony Stewart is looking good for this weekend.  He has three wins at this track, all spread out over a decade (2000, 2005, 2011).

The driver ratings for this track also indicate that Tony Stewart has an edge on the competition.  Tony has a driver rating of 114.1 over the next highest driver, Jeff Gordon, who has a rating of 109.0.  The full driver ratings are noted below.  Tony has an average finish here of 11.5 in 26 races, the third best of all active drivers.  Denny Hamlin has an average finish of 9 and Jimmie Johnson has an average finish of 10.1.  Both of these drivers have significantly less starts here than Tony.

Jeff Burton leads all active drivers with four wins at NHMS but none since 2000.  Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman, and Tony Stewart have three wins each here.

Tony Stewart is currently fifth in the standings, 90 points behind leader Matt Kenseth.  More importantly, being one of two leaders with the most race wins there is little or no chance he will miss the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup.  He doesn’t have to worry about points, it is all about winning from here on out.  Look out, NASCAR, that is how he won the Chase last year.

If you can’t get to the track it will be broadcast Sunday, the 15th of July on TNT at 12 p.m. ET.  The race is short compared to other races so it should finish early, leaving plenty of time to enjoy the rest of the afternoon.

Brian Berg Jr. is the Lead NASCAR writer for RantSports.com

Follow him on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race and throughout the week for more NASCAR news and commentary.   On Facebook at NASCAR News and Commentary

Top 12 Driver Rating at NHMS

Tony Stewart……………………….. 114.1
Jeff Gordon………………………… 109.0
Jimmie Johnson…………………… 104.6
Denny Hamlin……………………….. 98.1
Dale Earnhardt Jr…………………… 96.5
Clint Bowyer…………………………. 95.1
Ryan Newman……………………….. 95.1
Jeff Burton…………………………… 94.1
Kurt Busch……………………………. 93.3
Kevin Harvick………………………… 91.7
Mark Martin…………………………… 88.9
Kyle Busch…………………………… 88.5

Note: Driver Rating compiled from 2005-2011 races (14 total) at New Hampshire.