Written by Adrian Beecher
Loudon, New Hampshire - For the third time ever, Denny Hamlin captured the Checkered flag at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in a Cup Series car. It was not an easy win in any way as he had to battle off Kyle Larson and Martin Truex Jr. in the final laps.
After Kyle Larson in the #42 Target Chevrolet had failed inspection after qualifying, he was forced to start at the back of the field as Martin Truex Jr. started from the pole with Jimmie Johnson lined up next to him in the front row. As the green flag dropped, Johnson got a great jump. However, it was too good as he got to the start finish line before Truex Jr. which forced Johnson to serve a pass through penalty.
The other penalized driver Kyle Larson quickly moved up to 15th by lap 18. Then on lap 20, Truex Jr. passed Josh Bilicki in the #51 Prevagen Chevrolet to make him the first car a lap down. When the competition caution came out on lap 35, Truex was still out in front and had put 7 cars a lap down.
On lap 41, the first caution of the day came out with Erik Jones slamming into the wall in turn 3 as a result of a run in with Kasey Kahne in the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet. That would end Jones’ day. The second caution due to an incident would come out on lap 67 as Cole Whitt in the #33 Chevrolet had a mechanical failure that caused him to leak fluid on the track from turn 1 through turn 2. This would keep the field under caution until lap 73. Two laps later, Truex captured the stage 1 victory after leading all 75 laps in the stage.
Before stage 2 could go under the green flag, a red flag came out due to a hole in the racetrack on the backstretch. After a 5 minute and 29-second delay we got back to green flag racing with Kyle Busch in the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota on lap 83.
Then shortly after on lap 88, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the #17 Fastenal Ford got into the #3 of Austin Dillon. This caused Dillion to go sideways in turn 4. However, he was able to save the car limiting the damage to almost nil. They would get back to green flag racing on lap 91 with Busch still out in front.
It would be green flag racing the rest of the stage as Busch cruised to the stage win. It marked his 5th stage win of the season.
They would get back to green flag racing 157 with Denny Hamlin in the #11 FedEx Office Toyota out in front. What followed was a battle between wills of Denny Hamlin and Truex as they fought for position
On lap 173, Martin Truex Jr. was able to get back into the lead as he passed Hamlin. Truex would maintain the lead until cutting down a tire on lap 217 forcing him to head into the pits. This would give the lead to Kyle Busch and put Truex a lap down. However, on lap 229, Truex would pass Busch to get back on the lead lap. On lap 238 Busch pitted, and on his exit of pit road, he was too fast on pit road.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. would then take over the lead until he pitted on lap 246, which then allowed Martin Truex Jr. to get back in the lead. However, he would slowly lose his lead gap since he had to pit before everyone else. On lap 260 Truex would lose the lead to Matt Kenseth. Then on lap 262, the yellow flag came out as Ryan Newman in the #31 Grainger Chevrolet.
On lap 266 we get back to green flag racing Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet was out in front as he stayed out during the caution. That did not even last the first lap as Matt Kenseth in the #20 Dewalt Flexvolt Ford made the pass to overtake the lead. Then on two laps later it was Denny Hamlin getting back out in front.
With just 25 laps to go, and Hamlin in the lead, Kyle Larson and Truex Jr. did what they could to chase down the #11. In the final 10 laps, it was just Larson left in the battle with Hamlin as he did everything he could to pass the 11.
However, there was just not enough time left for Larson, and just enough time for Hamlin. As the checkered flag dropped, it was Denny Hamlin capturing his first win of the 2017 season. The win clinches his spot in the playoffs, while the second place finish for Kyle Larson is his second straight 2nd place finish after being forced to start from the back from penalties.
After the race, Larson addressed the penalties and his feelings on them, “For sure. It seems like we have a target on our back. But, that’s a good thing, too. It means everybody is paying attention to us. This is my fourth year in NASCAR and I've never been in a position to where NASCAR and other teams are paying so much attention to our race car. Thats a compliment to everybody at the shop.”
The next race in the series is in Indianapolis in the annual Brickyard 400, with a chance to kiss the bricks on the line.
Written by Brett Korpi
Loudon, New Hampshire- Stage-2 of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Overton’s 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway was slow to get back underway. While under caution from the stage-1 conclusion, the race came to a halt on a red flag due to needed track repairs on turn-3.
After the repairs, the green flag was waived on lap-83 with Kyle Busch leading. Busch, in the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, realized he was not going to catch Martin Truex Jr. at the end of stage-1 visited Pit Road and was able to get out in front when the rest of the field went into the pits.
Just five-laps into the start of stage-2 another caution took place. On lap-88 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. drives the #17 Fastenal Ford, got into the #3 Dow Chevrolet is driven by Austin Dillon on turn-4.
The fifth caution of the day lasted five laps with the green flag waiving on lap-93. Busch took over the stage from their opening a two-second lead on Kevin Harvick in the #4 Busch Beer Ford.
That lead would only grow for Busch, getting as large as 5.4-seconds on lap 140. On that lap, Denny Hamlin in the #11 FedEx Office Toyota was able to get by Harvick to take over second-place.
Busch finished the stage off duplicating Truex’s performance from stage-1, leading every lap of the 75-lap stage to secure the stage-2 victory and continuing a successful weekend that saw a NASCAR Xfinity Series victory in the Overton’s 200 on Saturday.
The stage win was the fifth of the season for Busch. Joining him in the top-five are Hamlin, Harvick, Kurt Busch, and Jimmie Johnson.
Written by Brett Korpi
Loudon, New Hampshire – When the green flag dropped at New Hampshire Motor Speedway the Overton’s 301 immediately had controversy. Jimmie Johnson’s #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet drew a starting violation as he beat Coors Light Pole winner Martin Truex Jr. to the start-finish line. Johnson’s vehicle was assessed a pass-through penalty enforced on the next lap.
That misstep by Johnson was all Truex needed in stage 1. The #78 Wix Filters Toyota dominated the field jumping out to a 6.5-second lead over Matt Kenseth in the #20 DEWALT Flexvolt Chevrolet in the first 35-laps before the competition caution took place.
While Truex leads the pack, Kyle Larson worked his way up the standings coming all the way from the back. Larson, in the #42 Target Chevrolet, passed car after car working his way into the top-5.
Just after the green flag on lap-41, the #77 5-Hour Energy Extra Strength Toyota driven by Eric Jones slammed into the wall on turn-3, slowing down the field once again with a caution.
When the action picked back up on lap-50, Larson continued his surge into the top-3 passing Kenseth and Jamies McMurray. McMurray, in the #1 GearWrench Chevrolet, could not hold off the surge Larson as he tried to squeeze him in on the turn-2.
With Larson charging, Truex continued to pull away from the field. #18 Kyle Busch in the Interstate Batteries Toyota attempted to make a run but was unable to pull within under 1-second of the leader.
On lap-67 the #72 Chevrolet driven by Cole Whitt suffered a mechanical failure that leaked oil on the track the length of turn-1 to turn-2 causing the third caution of the day.
Action picked backup on lap-73. Where, Truex once again pulled away from the competition holding off teammates McMurray and Larson to gain the stage-1 victory.
Truex, lead all 75-laps of stage-1 to capture his 14th stage of the season in resounding fashion.
Written by Brett Korpi
Loudon, New Hampshire - Throughout his career Penske Racing’s Joey Logano hasn’t been well liked at many tracks on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series circuit. However, when the Middletown, Connecticut native comes to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the only New England stop on the tour he feels the love.
“I always joke that when I come up to New Hampshire I feel like I am Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. Because, everyone likes me.” Logano, the driver for number 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford car, said.
It comes as no surprise that Logano has a history at the 27-year-old track in Loudon, New Hampshire. Logano’s home track has been the place of many memories, he saw his first race at the “Magic Mile” as a child and. He would start his first MNECS race at the age of 18 in 2008, and would become the youngest to capture the checkered flag at the track in 2009 at the age of 19.
“I want to race here three or four times a year.” Logano said.
Since going to victory lane in Richmond in the Toyota Owners 400, Logano and the Shell Pennzoil team has struggled. The 22 Ford has suffered three did-not-finishes.
“We have to be able to get our cars faster. That is the biggest thing right now.” Logano said of the slump.
Heading into the Overton’s 301, Logano and the Shell Pennzoil team will indeed need to get faster. The 22 qualified 13th and will be facing cars that have outperformed his throughout qualifying and practices in Loudon.
Martin Truex Jr., who is the MNECS point leader, and has three victories under his belt, sits in the Coors Light Pole position. And looks to continue the momentum coming off a wild victory in Kentucky. The 78 WIX Filters Toyota won the Quaker State 400 in overtime due to a late caution.
Truex, won the pole after the 42 Target Chevrolet driven by Kyle Larson had its qualifying time disallowed due to an unapproved part discovered during inspection after qualifying. This infraction happened just two days after being hit with a major penalty that saw his crew chief suspended for three races, $75,000 fine and a 35-point deduction.
It will be the fourth time that the 42-car will be forced to make its way up the field from the back. But, if there is a car that can do it Larson’s vehicle is the one. The car owned by Chip Ganassi Racing has worked it was twice to top five finishes when starting in the back of the field. Larson has also been driving the fastest car on the track all weekend in practice.
Sunday at 3:00 p.m. Logano will look to defend his home turf against the stiff competition. You can catch the action from New Hampshire Motor Speedway on NBC Sports Network.
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