Allen Lessels on Motor Sports: Sprint Cup changes sit well with NHMS GM Gappens
The auto racing series instituted changes to its qualifying system as well as the way it selects teams for the Chase to the Sprint Cup Championship shortly before the 2014 campaign began with the Daytona 500 in late February.
"Everything I've seen so far about 2014 has been very successful," said Gappens, the general manager of New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. "The changes NASCAR and (president) Brian France made, I think, have done all the things they hoped they'd do."
Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick have for all intents locked up Chase spots with two wins apiece and Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch are in good shape with a win each.
At one-mile tracks such as NHMS, the drivers go out for two qualifying sessions. After the first, 30-minute go-round, the top 12 come back for 10 more minutes.
The first of two Sprint Cup weekends at the track this season is two months from this weekend: the Camping World RV Sales 301 is July 13.
The New Hampshire 100 Whelen Modified Tour race and the New England 200 Nationwide race are on Saturday.
- - - - - - - -
A couple of other major, high-profile and contrasting events return to opposite ends of the state over the last two weekends in June. The National Hot Rod Association Mello Yello New England Nationals, featuring John Force and his family of dragsters, are back at New England Dragway in Epping from June 19-22.
The Subaru Mount Washington Hill Climb will be contested up the MountWashington Auto Road. The Sports Car Club of New Hampshire is helping put on the event and it's part of the 2014 Rally America national championship.David Higgins of the Isle of Man plans to return and take a shot at the record he set of six minutes and just under 12 seconds - 6:11.54 to be precise - on the 7.6-mile course in 2011, the last time the Hillclimb was held.
Granite State drivers hold down two of the top three spots in the American Canadian Tour standings through the first two races in the series.
Two-time defending champion Wayne Helliwell of Dover is first and Joey Polewarczyk of Hudson is third. Jimmy Hebert of Vermont is sandwiched between them.
The next race in the series is at Airborne Speedway in Plattsburgh, N.Y., next Saturday, May 17.
The only New Hampshire race that counts in the points standings is at White Mountain Motorsports Park in No. Woodstock on June 21. The series will be at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Bond Auto ACT Invitational on Sept. 20.
Hampstead's Andy Seuss leads the Whelen Southern Modified Tour standings through the first four races of the season. Seuss has two wins and owns a five-point lead over George Brunnhoelzl III.
The two wins give Seuss a Southern Modified career total of 17, which is second-best in the series.