New Hampshire’s Layout Leaves No Room for Setup Mistakes

Getty Fans attend a NASCAR race weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The top two series in NASCAR return to New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 14-16. The teams will take on a track that leaves little room for setup mistakes.

The Loudon track is 1.058 miles in length, and it appears to be a fairly standard oval from the air. However, the turns are very shallow with only two to seven degrees of banking. The straights have one degree of banking. This puts a premium on handling and rewards teams that can find rear grip in the turns.

“It is important to have a car that allows you to get into the corner deep if you want to be fast at New Hampshire Motor Speedway,” Austin Dillon said, per Richard Childress Racing. “The corner is flat, and there is not much banking to hold you.

“If your car is stable on entry, it helps the rest of the corner so you can be aggressive and make passes. Entry speed is also an important factor. I feel like the car will have to get into the corner and rotate in the center and drive off. Everything that matters at short tracks matters at New Hampshire.”

“It’s a tough place to race, as flat as it is, which puts a premium on how your car handles,” Justin Allgaier said. “We’ll take the Jarrett Chevrolet up there and give it our best shot this weekend, hopefully getting some consistency back to enter the playoffs with some momentum.”

Offseason Changes Add Difficulty

GettyMichael McDowell (front) races Harrison Burton (rear) at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

As Kyle Busch explained, the aero-dependency and the tightness of the track have both made races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway far more difficult. The second lane is the preferred option while the third lane is just too far around the track.

Adding to the difficulty for the teams will be the lack of information in the Next Gen era. They have only completed one race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway since moving to the new cars, and it took place before some changes to their front ends.

New Hampshire is one of the tracks that use the new downforce package implemented for short tracks and road courses. The cars have 30 percent less downforce with a two-inch spoiler.

The race weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway will also feature the debut of a significantly softer tire. Goodyear tested a new option ahead of the annual trip to the Northeast and came away with the feeling that it was a step in the right direction for NASCAR’s shorter tracks.

Practice Remains Critical for NASCAR Teams

SS GreenLight Racing

GettyDavid Starr races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Of course, these changes mean that there will be little time for the teams to prepare. The Xfinity Series will take part in practice on Friday, July 14, while the Cup Series will hit the track on Saturday, July 15, provided the weather cooperates.

The Weather Underground forecast calls for rain and thunderstorms throughout the weekend. Though Saturday’s outlook has improved as the thunderstorms have moved toward the evening. The forecast for the morning and early afternoon has begun to improve.

The practice sessions will only be the standard 20 minutes, which means that the teams will not have time to establish a baseline. They will have to show up with their cars nearly in the right spot, and then they will have to make as many adjustments as possible before the start of the respective races.

“New Hampshire is really flat. It’s tough to set the car up there and get it to turn but still have rear grip in it,” AJ Allmendinger said. “I’ve been on both ends of having success but also have struggled. With this car, I enjoyed it last year but definitely needed to be a little bit better getting around the racetrack.

“Being up front here is critical but with the long runs we typically get, it’s easy to burn off the tires. It’s a challenging racetrack that we have struggled at as a company, but we have to potential to be better at.”


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