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Loudon Race Recap

Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano secured two top-five finishes for Joe Gibbs Racing in today’s Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, while an early blown tire left their teammate Kyle Busch back in 36th.

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Denny Hamlin started his No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota from the 14th position and battled through some early handling conditions. Crew chief Mike Ford and the FedEx crew would make the necessary improvements to Hamlin’s Camry however and as the race progressed the handle on his car would continue to improve as he raced his way back toward the top ten.  Just after the midpoint of the race Hamlin would be sent spinning when the field bunched up and the 71 made contact with his No. 11 Camry. The setback didn’t deter Hamlin and FedEx team however as he restarted 32nd on lap 174 and began to drive forward through the field. When Mark Martin spun on lap 185, Hamlin would remain on the track and was able to restart 16th on lap 188. He would continue to climb through the field late in the race despite conserving fuel at the same time. With just over 20 laps remaining Hamlin would take over the second position on the track and despite some tense moments coming down to the checkered flag, he would manage to conserve enough fuel to make it to the end with a strong third-place finish.

Joey Logano would return to what is largely considered his hometrack and the site of his first career win in Loudon, NH. The No. 20 Home Depot Toyota would roll off in 16th position to start the race today and battle handling conditions through the early going as the car shifted from loose to tight. Crew chief Greg Zipadelli and The Home Depot team continued to make improvements to the No. 20 Camry however and as the race reached the 100 lap mark Logano was able to climb back up into the top 15. Logano would ascend into the top 10 just a few laps later and by the midpoint of the race it was obvious that he had a top-10 car or better.  When a caution came out on lap 216, Zipadelli had Logano keep the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota on the track which allowed him to inherit the race lead. A few laps later another caution would allow the team to pit for a final time and the pit strategy provided Logano enough fuel to race to the end. That is exactly what he did. Restarting 22nd on lap 229, Logano climbed through the field to race in 13th position by lap 240.  Without the need for fuel he once again stayed out and was able to restart seventh on lap 244. Over the course of the final 50 laps or so Logano would work his way forward for an impressive fourth-place finish.

After winning the inaugural NASCAR Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway just one week ago, and tying Mark Martin for career Nationwide Series wins on Saturday, Kyle Busch was hoping to maintain that momentum today in New Hampshire. Unfortunately an early blown tire would leave him with a disappointing conclusion to his day. The No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota started in the 19th position, but the day’s first pit stop would result in an early setback as the Camry was blocked in its stall by the No. 51 car. Busch would bring it down pit road a second time for four fresh tires and was forced to restart in the 41st position. However, as he often proves, early setbacks only provide inspiration for Busch and this would be another opportunity for Busch to show his skills. Busch would climb his way through the field and was racing his way back into the top-20 when his right front tire blew sending him into the wall. The damage would be severe and despite the efforts of his Interstate Batteries team he wouldn’t get back on the track until he was 76 laps down. Busch would have to settle for a disappointing 36th-place finish.

Ryan Newman captured the victory, while Tony Stewart was second, Hamlin third, Logano fourth, and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top-five. There were 10 cautions for a total of 33 laps and 21 lead changes among 14 different drivers over the course of the 301-lap race..

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will take a week off before moving to Indianapolis on July 31 for the famed Brickyard 400.  Live Coverage will be on ESPN starting at Noon ET (race starts at 1 PM ET). The race will also be carried on Sirius Radio NASCAR channel 90.