Photo credit: Nigel Kinrade Photography

Longshot NASCAR drivers have hope at New Hampshire

Multiple drivers are seeking their first NASCAR win this season and a spot in the playoffs. New Hampshire provides hope for this group based on its history of longshot success.

According to notes provided by NASCAR, 10 different New Hampshire races have featured a winner who started outside the top 20. This accounts for 19.2% of the 52 Cup races held at the 1.058-mile track.

New Hampshire and Charlotte Motor Speedway remain tied with 10 winners who started outside the top 20. This is the third-most all-time behind only Richmond Raceway (13) and Daytona International Raceway (14).

Aric Almirola is the latest example of this trend. He started 22nd in the 2021 race at New Hampshire, and he won the darkness-shortened event. He entered the weekend 27th in the Cup standings but left with a playoff spot.

Two full-time Cup drivers also accomplished this feat during the Gen 6 era. Denny Hamlin started 32nd at New Hampshire in 2012 and won after leading 193 laps. Joey Logano started 24th in 2009 and won the rain-shortened event after leading 10 laps.

Kurt Busch actually won from outside the top 20 twice at New Hampshire. He started 32nd for the July 2004 race and won. He also started 26th in the June 2008 race at New Hampshire and won.

While the two Next Gen winners at the track have started inside the top five, the history of longshot winners is significant for multiple champions.

Logano, in particular, is six points below the playoff cutline as he seeks his first win of the season. Kyle Busch, a three-time winner at New Hampshire, is 31 points below the cutline as he continues to seek a win.

Busch and Logano, the two active drivers with multiple Cup championships, have both had speed in recent races on NASCAR's shorter tracks. The difference in the finishing order.

Logano secured top-10 finishes at World Wide Technology Raceway and Iowa. Busch finished 35th in both races due to a crash and a mechanical issue.

Avoiding incidents will be crucial for Busch as he tries to win for the 20th consecutive season, especially considering that he has DNFs in three of the past four races at New Hampshire due to crashes. However, the 2021 race was unique as rain caused Busch to crash from the lead in the race's opening laps.