NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, New Hampshire 300, New Hampshire Motor Speedway
There’s a reason they call Kevin Harvick ‘The Closer.” He stole the lead from Matt Kenseth with six laps to go on a late race restart to win the Bad Boy Off Road 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday, sealing his place into the Chase of 12. That segment starts in Charlotte, with only Dover remaining in the first sector of the Chase to the Sprint Cup. He’ll join Chicago winner, Martin Truex, Jr. as one of the first two winners.
“One of our main goals this year was to not stress ourselves out so bad,” said Harvick, who won last year’s Dover race to escape the Round of 16 in his last opportunity. “I feel like the performance of the car and the things that we’re doing are good enough to be competitive, and we just need to not make mistakes and go from there.”
For most of the race, Harvick struggled with lap traffic and track position, using the inside lane on the final restart to make his move.
“Man, that worked out really good,” said Harvick, who won for the second time at the Magic Mile, the third time this season and the 34th time in his career. “The car was pretty good on the restarts. Once we got clean air there at the end, it wound up being really good up front. I’m just really proud of our team. They did a great job.”
The leader, Kenseth at the time, was warned by NASCAR officials that his previous restarts were suspicious about how he manipulated the process, benefitting the No. 20 team.
“They made it sound like I slowed down the last time,” Kenseth said. “But in my opinion, the leader is always supposed to have the advantage. He’s the leader. He earned that advantage. They said I slowed down a little bit last time, which I’ve got to re-watch it.
“I don’t really think I did, but if I did at all, it’s because the inside car (Truex) was laying back a little bit, and you want to make sure he gets up to your nose so it’s a fair restart. If he’s back at your door and anticipates a little bit, it’s not a fair restart. He’s going to be equal to you or a little bit better.”
Abiding NASCAR on the final restart left Kenseth second-guessing his process and wondering what could have done differently.
“I saw Kevin at my door, and I should have known better,” Kenseth said. “I should have gone deep in the box and waited, and the acceleration was probably better down there anyway, but I didn’t. I went right at the first line; he anticipated a little bit of that and got rolling good through the gears, and then I got through the gears bad. I spun the tires in second (gear); I spun the tires in third, so I had a really bad restart besides all that.”
After Harvick, Martin Truex finished second followed by Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch in fifth.
After the second race of the Chase of 16, here’s the current standings.
1 Brad Keselowski – 2,087; 2 Martin Truex Jr – 2,086; 3 Kyle Busch – 2,085; 4 Matt Kenseth – 2,078; 5 Joey Logano – 2,073; 6 Kevin Harvick – 2,071; 7 Denny. Hamlin – 2,071; 8 Jimmie Johnson – 2,070; 9 Chase Elliott – 2,068; 10 Carl Edwards – 2,068; 11 Kurt Busch – 2,067; 12 Kyle Larson – 2,057; 13 Jamie McMurray – 2,052 (-5); 14 Austin Dillon – 2,052 (-5); 15 Tony Stewart – 2,046 (-11); and 16 Chris Buescher – 2,027 (-30).
The final race of the first segment of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase for the Championship comes to an end at Dover International Speedway on Sunday, October 2, on NBCSN.
NASCAR Xfinity Series, VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300, Kentucky Speedway
Elliott Sadler was the beneficiary after the stout Chase race cars of Erik Jones and Ty Dillon collided, taking out perhaps the two best cars of the night with just 12 laps to go and bringing the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 under yellow, leaving the victory in the first NASCAR Xfinity Chase race being decided between Ryan Blaney and Sadler.
On the restart came a major push from Daniel Suarez directly behind Sadler, and it was just enough to get him out from into the clean air to distant himself from Blaney for his third win of the season and 13th of his Xfinity career.
“We had a 10th or 15th place car at best,” said Sadler, the driver of the No.1 JR Motorsports OneMain Chevrolet. “Still had to come in and really take our time and work on it. Great pit calls by Kevin (Meendering, crew chief) and the guys to get us in position. We got a good push there at the end. I do want to say thanks to Josh Berry for helping me a ton tonight. That kid did some cool things on the restarts. We just fight till the end. This is a great way to start the Chase.”
Sadler came into the Kentucky race with a heavy heart thinking of his mother, Bell, who was released from the hospital Saturday after two surgeries this week. She was back home in Emporia, Virginia, leaving him inspired to get the win which he proudly delivered for her.
“We fought through a lot tonight,” said Sadler in Victory Lane. “I’m going to get a little emotional on you; I’ve been in the hospital all week with my mom in ICU watching her fight and fight through a lot of pain and suffering. (She) made her way back home tonight to watch the race. Mom, I love you. She leads so much by example.”
The pair of Jones and Dillon set the pace throughout the night leading, for 147 of the 200 laps before finishing 27th and 28th respectively after their accident, paving the way for Sadler.
Suarez, who finished second, said he struggled with a tight condition all night but was best at the end of the race.
“Right at the end, we were pretty good, maybe just a little tight but we were strong,” he said. “I feel like we were the fastest car out there at the end. I just needed one or two laps more to get the win.”
Rounding out the top five were Sadler, Suarez, Ryan Blaney, Sam Hornish and Matt Tifft.
Now that Sadler has punched his ticket through to the Round of 8, he gets to glide through the upcoming races at Dover and Charlotte without worry of elimination picking back up at the Kansas Speedway on Saturday, Oct. 15, for the Kansas Lottery 300.
Sadler leaves Kentucky Speedway with an eight-point lead in the standings. Suarez (+27 points above the cutoff line) is second in the Chase standings, followed by Brendan Gaughan (+21), Ryan Reed (+19), Darrell Wallace Jr. (+19), Justin Allgaier (+17), Brennan Poole (+16), Blake Koch (+15), Erik Jones (-3), Ryan Sieg (-5), Brandon Jones (-15) and Ty Dillon (-15).
Up next is the second race in the Chase of 8 for the NASCAR Xfinity series – the Driver Sober 200 at Dover International Speedway on Saturday, Oct. 1 airing on NBCSN.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, UNOH 175, New Hampshire Motor Speedway
William Bryon added his sixth win in the NASCAR Camping World Truck series and first in the Chase of 8 Championship hunt at the UNOH 175 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, making it very clear that he’s the man to beat.
In the style of his truck owner, Kyle Busch, Byron covered nearly everything thrown at him, leading 161 of the 175 circuits at the one-mile flat oval. Just at the end of the race, his KBM teammate Christian Bell made a challenge at Byron, but despite slower traffic posing a problem, the 18-year old Byron prevailed by .446 of a second over Bell.
“I wore myself out passing some lappers,” Byron said. “But with the amount of laps we had left, I thought I’d be OK. I was afraid the 4 (Bell) was going to catch us there at the end. We started to get tight, but that’s what happens sometimes when you get out front.”
What makes Byron’s victory at New Hampshire so significant is that it moves him automatically into the Chase of 6, which activates on Saturday, October 29, at Martinsville with a free pass through Las Vegas next weekend and the last race of the initial Chase elimination at Talladega, to his relief.
“From this point on, we’ll just try to win and compete like we don’t have one,” said Bryon. “That’s our objective and we want to keep the momentum going throughout this Chase and make it to Homestead. That’s our ultimate goal.”
Christian Bell finished second, marking his eighth top-five finish of the season. He was pleased with his late race performance, but felt a little frustrated seeing his teammate just feet ahead after chasing him down in the final laps.
“He was obviously dominant all day long,” sighed Bell. “I was pretty impressed we got to him with some heavy lap traffic that was slowing him up to allow us to get there. If we had a couple of more (laps), maybe I would have had a shot at him.”
The top five were Byron, Bell in a KBM 1-2, with two-truck time champion, Matt Crafton in third, Tyler Reddick in fourth with Timothy Peters in fifth.
Byron leaves New Hampshire with a 16-point lead in the standings. Crafton (+11 points above the cutoff line) is second in the Chase standings, followed by Christian Bell (+10), John Hunter Nemechek (+5), Peters (+3), Sauter (+1), Kennedy (-1) and Hemric (-21).
The Chase of 8 NASCAR Camping World Truck series competes next weekend on Saturday night, October 1, at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the DC Solar 350K airing on FOX Sports 1.