Kenseth Thumps Sprint Cup Field with Late Race Pass in New Hampshire 301
Matt Kenseth drove stealthily in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup New Hampshire 301 to find the right time late in the race to take command from Kyle Busch, who along with Martin Truex, Jr. had dominated most of the day’s race in front for a combined total of 256 laps.
Although Kenseth led for only 38 laps, his Joe Gibbs Racing Dollar General Toyota was the strongest car when it counted the most holding off a hard charging Tony Stewart for second, who in his own race was fending off Joey Logano, a resurgent Kevin Harvick and a surprising Greg Biffle to round out the top five.
In Friday’s pole day qualifying, Kenseth mustered a best 18th place showing, but was seen laughing and commiserating with crew chief, Jason Ratliff afterwards with all his JGR crew knowing his car would be a contender despite their adverse start.
“Yeah, I mean, it always feels good to win, obviously, but I think today especially,” said the 44-year old Kenseth, who won for the second straight time at the 1.058-mile flat track and for the 38th time in his career. “Friday I didn’t do a good job qualifying. We started middle of the pack. Our first run wasn’t great. I don’t know what he (Ratliff) adjusted but he made some great changes for run two, and really I felt like we had probably the best car all day. It just took forever to get there.”
Stewart, however, was delighted with the effort of his team. He and first-year crew chief Mike Bugarewicz exchanged texts dealing with setup notes on Saturday night, after Stewart flew to Ohio to oversee the Kings Royal sprint car race at Eldora Speedway, which he owns.
“Yeah, we had a much better Chevy today than what we had yesterday,” said Stewart, who is now 67 points ahead of 31st-place Brian Scott. “I went off and went to Eldora for the Kings Royal last night. He kept sending me a couple of texts. He was working as late here as I was working late at Eldora. It really paid off.”
Brad Keselowski’s two-race winning streak was snapped in a late race incident cutting a tire after brushing against Kurt Busch, who both in turn had to make unscheduled stops ending up 15th and 22nd, respectively after being top rated contenders during the race.
Alex Bowman driving the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was going for a career best finish until cutting down a left rear tire sending him into the turn one wall at the time running eighth. He stayed on the lead lap, but was relegated to 26th position in the final rundown.
Missing the race for reason of signs of a concussion, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is now on the bubble in 16th place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase standings, 14 points ahead of the cutline with Trevor Bayne (-14), Ryan Blaney (-16), Kasey Kahne (-22) and Kyle Larson (-25) all trying to get into the Top 16.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup series now moves to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Crown Royal presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 on Sunday, July 24.
Busch Wins 82nd Xfinity Race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway
If New Hampshire Motor Speedway is known as the Magic Mile, then Kyle Busch’s vanishing act from Erik Jones’ view was the grand illusion in the AutoLotto 200, NASCAR Xfinity series race on Saturday afternoon.
Busch was the ubiquitous point man all day leading for 190 of the 200-lap race and despite other cars taking four tires under the last caution, kept Busch’s strategy the right one proving two tires and clean air seemed to be the difference with the outcome.
“Our cars were pretty equal and it was just a matter of track position,” said Busch. “I thought the four tires would pay off for him (Jones) but it really didn’t. That’s just Loudon. It’s just the way this place is.”
Busch’s laurels keep coming extending his own record collecting his 82nd Xfinity win, along with surpassing the milestone of 17,000 laps led in the class. In addition, his fifth win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway just sums up it’s in all in a day’s work.
The day’s biggest brouhaha developed between Xfinity point contender Ty Dillon and Alex Bowman. Coming off turn two on lap 76, Bowman over steered his No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevy into the left rear of Dillon’s No. 3 nudging him into the backstretch wall drawing Dillon’s direct ire taking points away from his bid in making the chase.
“It was probably my fault for being back there with a guy who doesn’t race very much and he showed why,” said an irritated Dillon, finishing 33rd. “I’m very frustrated. He was beyond the corner and down the straightaway and (he) just turned left. I feel he’s pretty lucky; he’s still on the racetrack and not in the garage with me. I’m pretty upset right now. It’s not how you race. I don’t know what to say, when I have nothing good to say. Glad he’s not around right now.”
Bowman sounded sincere but seemed to stir up more emotions out of the Richard Childress Racing camp.
“You never want to right rear someone intentionally,” said the eighth place finisher, Bowman substituting for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. on Sunday. “I hate that I put us in that box. He drove me way up the racetrack and he obviously got tight underneath me. I had a ton of wheel in it to the left, it got up the racetrack, and it finally caught. I barely came off the wall six inches, you tag somebody in the right rear, and I hate it for the 3 car; definitely didn’t do it intentionally. He’ll get over it one day”
After Busch and Jones, Brad Keselowski, Daniel Suarez, and Austin Dillon filled out the top five.
There’s only nine races to go in the NASCAR Xfinity chase after the completion of 17 races. Jones is still the leader with three wins and has locked in his position in the championship with his solid second place run from today. The bump spot is only 13 points between Blake Koch, who’s in and just that much separation from Ross Chastain in 13th.
Next weekend the tour moves to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Lilly Diabetes 250, the last of the Dash4Cash races of the year on Saturday, July 23.