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Preview: July 20-21, 2019: NASCAR at Loudon, IMSA at Lime Rock, IndyCar at Iowa

Preview: July 20-21, 2019: NASCAR at Loudon, IMSA at Lime Rock, IndyCar at Iowa

This weekend there are a pair of NASCAR races (Xfinity and MENCS) at the one-mile New Hampshire Motor Speedway oval north of Boston. This track was originally intended more for the Indy car style of race cars and lesser NASCAR series; it was built with little banking in the corners. Indeed it was once explained to me that the NASCAR Cup series would never run there given the flat nature of the turns. As it has turned out, CART ran there four times from 1992 to 1995 and the IRL ran there three times from 1996 to 1998 – and again, once, in 2011.

The first race held there was a Busch (now Xfinity) Series race in 1990. The first Cup race (then called Winston Cup) was held in 1993. From 1997 to 2017 the track hosted two MENCS races each year. As of 2018, the track stages only one MENCS race each year.

This was the track were Dale Jarrett’s car stopped on the front stretch and was in danger due to the long-standing rule that the cars raced through the scene of a wreck and did not take the yellow until they reached the start/finish line. As of this incident at Loudon, NASCAR finally recognized the criticism that this practice was irresponsibly dangerous - and made it a rule that cars must stop racing and slow as soon as the track went yellow no matter where they were with respect to the incident. The one merit of racing back to the flag was that it gave some small chance for a car a lap down to beat the leader back to the flag and unlap himself. A rule allowing the first car a lap down on the leader to automatically regain a spot a the back of the lead-lap cars was added as compensation – popularly called the ‘lucky dog’ rule.

As road courses go, Lime Rock Park is quite short and somewhat resembles an oval, having only one left-hand turn per lap. It is hard to imagine but the single-seater Can-Am cars rand there four times from18=983 to 1985 and IMSA has run there many times with fields that included the fast GTP cars. P.J. Jones holds the race lap record here in an IMSA GTP Eagle-Toyota with a lap time of 43.112 second/~123 mph set during qualifying in 1993. The track then featured a chicane at the top of the climb up to the back straight so today’s track length is slightly different.

[Correction: Now that I have seen the IMSA races from Lime Rock, I can see that the uphill chicane is still used. It was used for the WeatherTech race, making the track configuration more-or-less the same as it was when P.J. Jones set the lap record some years ago. On the other hand, the IMSA Michelin Pilot race did not use any of the chicane possiblilities, making their track layout more-or-less like the original 1.5-mile track.]

Today, IMSA only invites the GT cars (GTLM and GTD) to run in the WeatherTech race here – leaving the much faster prototypes out of the mix completely.

This weekend the Indy cars will run at Iowa Speedway, a 7/8-mile oval near. This is one of only four oval tracks in the current schedule and by far the shortest. In a way it stands as a replacement for the once-popular Milwaukee Mile. The short track length produces frenetic racing unlike that seen on any other track in the current series. It makes for interesting watching as a contrast to the style of racing on the longer ovals and the road and street courses. Unfortunately, race fans in Canada can only get the race broadcast on Sportsnet World, a high-priced speciality channel – and this makes it unlikely that more than a handful of Canadians will get to see this race. Thirty minute highlight shows from each race are made available on You Tube a few days after each race is run. I recommend that, if you can’t see it like, you check out the Iowa race on You Tube when it becomes available.

Saturday, July 20

1. IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, Lime Rock Park
• direct streaming: imsa.tv at 11:00A
• 1.50 mi; Race length - 120 minutes
• The GS class winners here last year were the duo of Trinckler/Plumb in the No. 46 Mercedes -AMG, finishing ahead of the No 57 Mercedes-AMG of Ward/Dontje. The TCR class was won by the No. 54 Audi RS3 of Simpson/Johnson.
• The No. 71 Chevrolet Camaro of Liddell/DePew won the Michelin race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park two weeks ago, while the No.60 Ford Mustang GT4 finished second, half a second behind. The top-finishing TCR car was the No. 17 Audi RS3 of Casey Jr/Taylor which finished 17th overall.

• Click HERE for the IMSA Michelin entry list 

2. IMSA WeatherTech Northeast Grand Prix, Lime Rock Park
• TV: Discovery-Velocity at 3:00P
• 1.50 mi; Race length = 160 minutes
• Last year at Lime Rock, the race winner was the No. 66 GTLM Ford GT driven by Hand/Mueller over the No. 3 Corvette of Magnussen/Garcia. The GTD winner was the No. 48 Snow/Sellers Lamborghini Huracan GT4.
• The previous event this year was run at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park two weeks earlier. The prototype (DPi) class was won by Jarvis/Nunez in the No. 77 Mazda DPi car with the sister car, the No. 55 Tincknell/Bomarito Mazda second. The No. 6 Penske Acura driven by Cameron/Montoya was third overall and in class.
• At CTMP the top finisher among the GTLM cars was the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR driven by Bamber/Vanthoor. In GTD, the calls winner was the No. 96 Auberlen/Foley BMW M6 GT3. Note that the Lime Rock race will include only GTLM and GTD cars due to the shortness of the circuit.

• Click HERE for the IMSA WeatherTech (GT) entry list  

3. NASCAR Xfinity ROXOR 200, New Hampshire Motor Speedway
• TV: TSN3 at 4:00P
• 1.058 mi; 200 laps = 211.6 mi; Stages: 45/45/110 laps
• Last year’s winner here was Christopher Bell. Cup regular Brad Keselowski was second and local driver Ryan Preece was third in a Joe Gibbs Toyota.
• Cole Custer won the previous race, which was held at Kentucky Speedway, while Christopher Bell was second and Tyler Reddick was third.

 • Click HERE for the NXS entry list 

4. NTT IndyCar Series, Iowa Speedway
• SN World at 7:00P
• 2.258 mi; 90 laps = 203.22 mi
• James Hinchcliffe won the Iowa race here last July. Spencer Pigot was second and Takuma Sato was third. This was Hinchcliffe’s most recent win in this series.
• The previous race was the Toronto street race which was won by Simon Pagenaud, leading nearly every lap of the race. Scott Dixon was a close second while Alexander Rossi was third.

• Click HERE for the Indy Car entry list  

Sunday, July 21
5. NASCAR MENCS, Foxwoods Resort Casino 301, New Hampshire Motor Speedway
• TV: TSN1/3/4/5 at 3:00P
• 1.058 mi; 301 laps = 318.46 mi; Stages: 75/75/151 laps

• Kevin Harvick won last year’s Cup race here. Kyle Busch was second and Aric Almirola was third.
• Kurt Busch won last week’s race at Kentucky Speedway in a close-fought battle to the wire over his brother Kyle Busch. Eric Jones finished third.

• Click HERE for the MENCS entry list 

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