LOUDON, N.H. -Tire strategy is expected to play a big part in the outcome at the Jiffy Lube 300 Winston Cup race today at the one-mile New Hampshire International Speedway.
"It's hard to pass here, so even if you have a good car, it takes a long time to come up through the field. So track position and tires can be critical here," Ricky Rudd said. "Everybody will be playing a strategy of four tires versus two, and when to come in for two or when to come in for four. Everyone will probably put on two somewhere along here, so the trick is deciding when to put the two on."
Jeff Gordon used that strategy two years ago to win at New Hampshire. Starting 21st, he made up ground by changing only two tires during to cautions while others were changing four.
Dale Jarrett said both he and Ernie Irvan took on only two tires on their last stops last year and "it got us some cushion in the race." Irvan won, Jarrett was second.
Jeff Burton also talked about the importance of track position.
"You can sometimes give up a little handling on your car just to make sure you get good track position," he said. "So some people will put on two tires instead of four."
Ken Schrader doesn't have to worry about position at the start. He's the polesitter. But he called the same tune.
"Track position is very important at every track we go to now, but it's really critical here," he said. "It's a narrow, flat track, and it really helps to start out front."
ANOTHER CHEVY IN THE PLACE?: Jeff Gordon has the only Chevy to break Ford's stranglehold this season in the Winston Cup series. Ken Schrader hopes to change that Sunday in the Jiffy Lube 300.
"We'd like to be the first Chevrolet to win this season besides Jeff Gordon," Schrader said. "I think we've got a good chance to do that here Sunday."
Gordon has won seven times. Seven drivers in Fords have won the other nine races.
ROOTS RETURN: Ricky Craven returned to his roots Saturday for a Busch North series race, and finished second behind Jerry Marquis.
"I had as much fun as I've had in a long time," said Craven, who won the series in 1991 as a stepping stone to the Winston Cup series in 1995. "The cars are a lot of fun. There's a lot of passing."
But he didn't think the 125-lap race over the 1.058-mile oval at New Hampshire International Speedway would help much when he starts third in Sunday's Winston Cup Jiffy Lube 300.
"There's very little in the North car that will translate into a Winston Cup car," he said.