Kyle Busch continued his incredible comeback from early season injuries that caused him to miss the first 11 races of the season with a win in today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards would join their teammate in the top ten with sixth and seventh-place finishes respectively and Denny Hamlin battled to a 14th-place finish.
Busch has now won back-to-back races after his win last week in Kentucky and he has won three of the last four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races starting with his victory in Sonoma. He is now just 58 points out of 30th-place in the standings to secure his spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship.
It was an impressive all-around weekend for Joe Gibbs Racing in New Hampshire. Carl Edwards started it off Friday by earning the pole for today’s Sprint Cup Series race, followed by Denny Hamlin winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series race from the pole on Saturday afternoon, and then Busch capping it all off with his big win today.
Kyle Busch started the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota from the fourth position and quickly maneuvered his way to the front of the field passing his teammate Edwards for the lead on lap 20. He would lead the next 47 laps before finally giving up the top spot during a round of green flag pit stops. Busch raced all afternoon in the top five and was fourth at lap 225. He would radio to crew chief Adam Stevens that he felt his right front tire was going down on lap 244 and with the team inside the fuel window to make it to the end the decision was made to come to pit road for fresh tires. That put him a lap down as he waited for the field to cycle through a final round of stops. A caution would come out with 51 laps remaining just after Busch made an incredible and aggressive move to pass the leaders to get back on the lead lap. That proved to be an enormous move allowing Busch to lead on the ensuing restart with 44 laps to go once all the other lead lap cars pitted under the caution. He would stretch his lead out after the restart and held off the 2 car to the finish.
Matt Kenseth started the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota in the eighth position and was racing in the top ten when he would get hit with a pit road speeding penalty on lap 81. He would serve the penalty on lap 85 causing him to go a lap down to the leaders but Kenseth and the team remained patient and he would get back on the lead lap when he didn’t pit under the next caution. With a fast Camry and solid pit strategy Kenseth worked his way back into the top ten and restarted sixth on lap 204. He would enter the top five and run fourth just a few laps later. A caution with 51 laps remaining would bring the leaders down pit road one final time and a great two-tire stop by the Dollar General crew would allow him to restart third. Kenseth would make a strong move to try and grab second on the restart but wasn’t able to make it stick. He would drop back to run fifth with 20 laps to go. The Dollar General Camry would finish sixth.
Carl Edwards started the No. 19 Sport Clips Toyota on the pole and led the opening 19 laps before giving way to his teammate Busch on lap 20. Edwards restarted in the third position on lap 107. Another caution would follow just ten laps later and crew chief Darian Grubb made a call to return to pit road as part of their fuel strategy on the day. That put Edwards back in the field for the next restart but he was able to make his way through back toward the front and ran 11th at the halfway mark. He would remain out through a round of green flag pit stops and when a caution came out on lap 188 he would hit pit road for four tires and fuel before lining up 9th for the restart. He would run seventh at lap 225. A caution with 51 laps remaining would bring the leaders down pit road a final time and the Sport Clips crew would allow Edwards to restart fourth with 44 laps to go after a great two-tire stop. He would run seventh with 20 laps remaining and managed to hold that spot to the finish.
Denny Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota from the fifth position but dropped back to run just inside the top ten through the early portion of the race. Hamlin would make the call to pit for adjustments following an early caution putting him outside the top 10 for a restart on lap 26. He would race much of the afternoon just inside the top 15. He was racing 15th when a caution with 51 laps remaining brought the leaders down pit road for a final round of stops. The FedEx crew would deliver as they always do gaining six spots with a two-tire stop allowing Hamlin to restart fifth with 44 laps to go. The No. 11 Camry would not get a great restart however and he would drop back to run 10th. He would go on to finish 14th.
Kyle Busch captured the win and was followed by Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. rounded out the top five. There were seven cautions on the night for a total of 34 laps and 10 lead changes among seven different drivers.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head to Indianapolis Motor Speedway next Sunday, July 26 for the Brickyard 400. NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) will provide live coverage starting at 3 PM ET (race scheduled to start at 3:30 PM ET).