Track is tough one to master

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LOUDON, N.H. --- New ownership has put a fresh coat of paint on New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The one thing that remains the same, however, is the racetrack itself.

The one-mile oval has relatively flat corners that's one of the most-difficult tracks to master, which helps explain why there have been eight different winners in the past eight races.

The unpredictably of Sunday's Lenox Industrial Tools 301 was enhanced by the rainout of Friday's qualifying session. The starting lineup was set by a mix of the current owner points and postmarks of entry blanks.

Tony Stewart, who won at New Hampshire in 2000 but hasn't won at the track since, will start on the pole, while Jeff Gordon, who last won at New Hampshire came in 1998, is on the outside pole.

Bruton Smith's Speedway Motorsports Inc. bought the racetrack before the 2008 season. The new owner has paved a lot of the parking lots, added a new sign and improved other amenities but the track has remained unchanged.

"This racetrack has a lot to do with pit strategy," Kurt Busch said. "Guys who haven't been running well all day stay out at the end of the race and get track position. You want to pit when you can make it to the end and stay out there until the end of the race."

Carl Edwards said he's surprised how the track changes from race to race. A good car for one weekend usually doesn't race well on another, so it keeps teams scrambling for setups.

"I've come here and had the fastest car, we had that Red Sox car that one year and it was just outstanding; I've come here and couldn't run 20th to save my life, so it's based how well your crew chief gets that car perfect and how precise you can be as a driver," he said.

There are two practice sessions schedule for today -- weather permitting. The Nationwide Series also will run the Camping World RV Sales 200 at 3 p.m.

Reach Don Coble at don.coble@morris.com.


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