LOUDON, N.H. — official release — AP photo — Thirteen different drivers have taken the checkered flag in the last 13 races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway – tied with Texas Motor Speedway for the all-time record streak without a repeat winner.
And there’s a better than average chance the Magic Mile takes sole possession of the record after this Sunday’s Sylvania 300 (2 p.m. on ESPN) as Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are all missing from the 13-in-13 stretch.
Gordon owns three victories at New Hampshire, but has not won there since 1998. He has been knocking on the door for his fourth win of the season after posting runner-up finishes the last two races. The No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports driver will attempt to improve on his last Loudon showing in July when he finished 26th, but did lead for 19 laps.
Despite his Granite State drought, Gordon boasts the highest average running position in the series at the 1.058 oval (7.7) where he has competed in all 39 of its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events – tied with Jeff Burton for its all-time starts record.
Similar to Gordon, Harvick has one win at New Hampshire, but he notched it eight years ago (September 17, 2006). In his last two races at the track, he has finished 30th and 20th, respectively.
Harvick can likely count on a solid starting position, at least. He boasts a series-best six Coors Light Pole Awards on the season and has started lower than sixth once his last eight races, ironically at New Hampshire. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver opened the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with a fifth-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway.
After posting three wins, his highest total since he racked up six in 2004, Earnhardt will try to automatically advance to the Chase’s Contender Round with a New Hampshire checkered flag. In 30 starts at Loudon, he has seven top fives and 13 tops 10s to his credit, but has never finished higher than third. Since Earnhardt’s emphatic win at Pocono, he has posted one top-10 finish in the last six races, a fifth-place showing at Michigan.
Will the streak live on? We’ll find out on Sunday.