2nd, 9th and 21st at New Hampshire
Kyle Busch would lead Joe Gibbs Racing with a second-place finish in today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 from New Hampshire Motor Speedway while teammate Matt Kenseth earned a top-ten finish taking the checkered flag in ninth and Denny Hamlin battled through adversity to finish 21st.
Busch started his No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota in the fourth position and wasted no time in jumping up into second at the initial start of the race. He would take his first lead of the day on lap 10 and would go on to lead the next 53 laps. Busch would race inside the top five for the majority of the day. Pit strategies would play a key part in determining track position as teams varied in taking either four, two, or no tires with each stop. A four-tire stop just after lap 200 would send him back outside the top 10 but two quick restarts allowed him to get the No. 18 Camry back to seventh by lap 217. The team would make a call for fuel only during a quick stop on lap 219 that put Busch in the 8th position on the restart. He would make a bit of contact with the 39 car on the restart which caused some damage to his right front fender, but Busch was still able to drive up into sixth before another quick caution followed. Fortunately the damage to the fender didn’t cause a tire rub and he would gain three more spots to take third in just two laps before yet another caution on lap 237. Busch would drive his way into the second position from there and was able to hold onto that spot through a green-white-checkered finish.
Kenseth started the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota from the 12th position and was strong from the outset as he quickly moved into the top ten and was top five by lap 31. Kenseth would take the lead following a great two-tire stop by the Dollar General crew on lap 125 and went on to lead the next 33 laps. Pit strategies would play a key role in track position as teams varied in taking four, two or no tires with each stop. After a four-tire stop Kenseth would restart 14th just after lap 200 but within a few circuits around the track he was already up to seventh when another caution came out for debris on lap 210. Kenseth was able to take advantage with another great restart on lap 214 and climbed into sixth on lap 216. The team would make a call for fuel only during a quick stop on lap 219 that put Kenseth in the ninth position on the restart. As he was battling for position the 78 car would move up directly in front of Kenseth and got loose spinning into the 39 car. Kenseth would check up hard to avoid the two cars in front of him but the 5 car of Kasey Kahne would make contact from behind. The Dollar General Camry would come down pit road for four fresh tires and repairs and was left to restart in the 26th position on lap 235. Kenseth was back to 19th in just two laps when another caution came out. He would make his way back into the top 15 but crew chief Jason Ratcliff would call for a final four tire change while under caution with 45 laps remaining. The strategy paid off again for the Dollar General team as Kenseth was able to drive from 21st back into the top ten once again. He would go on to finish with a solid 9th-place performance.
Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota in the seventh position and was racing just outside the top five through the early portion of the race, but a pit road penalty for a missing lug nut would force him to return pit road and go a lap down to the leaders. A flat right front tire on lap 124 would prove costly again and kept the No. 11 Camry down a lap. Hamlin would finally get the caution he needed on lap 210 to allow him back on the lead lap. He would restart 29th on lap 214. The FedEx team would put four fresh tires on the car during a stop on lap 219 and Hamlin would restart 26th. He would gain a few spots before another caution followed and allowed him to restart again from the 22nd position on lap 235. There were only two laps before the next caution but it was enough for Hamlin to jump all the way up to 15th. Hamlin would drive up to 10th when a final caution came out for debris with five laps remaining. The FedEx team would make a call to bring the No. 11 Camry down pit road needing fuel to ensure making it to the end of the race. With most of the lead lap cars making the decision to remain on the track, Hamlin would drop to 19th for the restart and green-white-checker finish. Hamlin would get bottled up and received contact on the restart making it difficult to gain track position. Although he would do an amazing job to avoid Tony Stewart on the final lap after the 14 had run out of gas, he was left to finish back in 21st.
Brian Vickers won the race, followed by Busch, Jeff Burton, Brad Keselowski and Aric Almirola rounded out the top five. There were 12 cautions for a total of 58 laps and 10 lead changes among six different drivers. The race was extended by one lap for a green-white-checker finish.