Winless in 2016, These Past Loudon Victors Look to Return to Victory Lane This Weekend

Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images

By Summer Bedgood, Managing Editor

This weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race will include a characteristic that hasn’t been part of a race weekend since the May 29th race at Charlotte Motor Speedway: It’s a Chase track.

Not only is Loudon, New Hampshire the site of one of the postseason races; it’s the second race of the 10-race Chase playoff, including the second of three races in the Round of 16. With that being the case, many of the teams already locked into or securely in the Chase – either by points or wins – will be taking some detailed notes this weekend in preparation for when the series returns in September.

For others, it may be the best opportunity they have to make the Chase.

Four drivers who are currently winless this season have past victories at Loudon. While there are seven races after Loudon where a driver could secure a win and potentially lock themselves into a Chase berth, these drivers have to be looking to Loudon as a place where they can take a post-victory breather and do some R&D between now and when Richmond (the final regular season race) rolls around.

Ryan Newman – Newman has three wins at NHMS, the most of any driver on this list, and is tied with Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, and Kurt Busch for the most victories at this track.

However, Newman hasn’t won at this track since 2011 while his other two wins came in 2005 and 2002. He has only finished in the top 10 in four of the last nine races since that victory. If it’s any consolation, though, the last time the series was in Loudon (September of 2015), Newman was able to finish 10th.

Right now, Newman is inside the Chase, with a 34-point cushion over Trevor Bayne (the first driver on the outside looking in on the Chase grid). The driver of the No. 31 is coming off of his first top-five finish of the season last weekend at Kentucky Speedway and could potentially carry that momentum into Loudon.

While it’s more likely that Newman will continue his stealthy pursuit of quiet consistency, he certainly would be no stranger to Victory Lane in Loudon.

Kasey Kahne – Kasey Kahne hasn’t won since Atlanta Motor Speedway in August of 2014. However, the driver of the No. 5 went to Victory Lane in the first of two races at NHMS in 2012, leading 66 laps and wining by 2.738 seconds over second-place Denny Hamlin.

Kahne’s overall Loudon statistics aren’t terrible, though they do leave something to be desired. However, that can be said for Kahne’s last few seasons as a whole, as the No. 5 team just hasn’t had the same speed as some of his Hendrick Motorsports teammates. He has only one top 10 in Loudon in the past six races.

Kahne is currently on the outside looking in on the Chase Grid, 16 points behind 16th-place Jamie McMurray. All three of his other teammates are in the top 16, though Jimmie Johnson is the only one who has made it to Victory Lane (twice). A win at Loudon might be unlikely for this team at this juncture, but it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility based on past performance.

Greg Biffle – Biffle isn’t necessarily known as a flat track type of driver, as most of his victories have come at intermediate racetracks with lots of banking and wide racing grooves. However, Biffle was able to make it to Victory Lane at Loudon in 2008 and finished top five in the September race last season.

Ford has been on the upswing in 2016 after struggling mightily for the past few seasons and Biffle has shown signs of that as well. Biffle won the pole at Daytona International Speedway a couple of weeks ago and, while that might not seem all that significant, the speed that the No. 16 showed was opposite of what the last few years has been for this team.

Biffle finished eighth at Daytona and sixth last weekend in Kentucky. In fact, in Daytona, Roush Fenway Racing put all three of their drivers in the top 10 for the first time since August of 2014.

This team has a long way to go before they are a week-to-week contender for the win, but this team is hungry after missing the Chase last season. It’s going to be difficult and they are certainly an underdog, but perhaps “The Biff” can make it three consecutive top 10 finishes this weekend.

At this point, it appears as though a win is the only feasible way Biffle makes the Chase. He is a painful 80 points outside of the top 16, which would require not only a complete turnaround in performance for this team, but also some horrible luck for pretty much everyone above Biffle and up into the bubble spots in the Chase . With that said, Loudon is a good place to carry the positive gains of this season for this team.

Clint Bowyer – As if this was even possible, Bowyer is in an even more dire position than Biffle at this point. He is 177 points behind 16th-place and has only three top 10 finishes in 18 races this season. However, his two victories at Loudon have to give him a little bit of hope heading into this weekend.

Granted, those two victories were in 2007 and 2010, but Bowyer can wheel his way around this track.

The negative is that he only has one top-10 finish in the last six races at NHMS. Add that to the struggles Bowyer has faced with HScott Motorsports in his one-year deal with this team, the most likely scenario for Bowyer to get to victory lane this weekend would be fuel mileage.

Not like that ever happens at Loudon … right?

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