New England – the forgotten home of short track racing in America. While many argue the biggest fans of NASCAR are in the south, the same could be said for New England, where fans come out in droves twice a year to New Hampshire Motor Speedway. This weekend, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series takes center stage in the 5-Hour Energy 301.
Carl Edwards (#19 Sport Clips Toyota) continued the banner weekend for Joe Gibbs Racing by claiming the pole for Sunday’s race. Edwards would lead early in the race before giving way to teammate Kyle Busch (#18 Interstate Batteries Toyota), picking up where he left off last week at Kentucky.
Two cautions would slow the field in the first 100 laps of the race, including one where Alex Bowman (#7 Chevy), a normal back marker on the field, caught fire. After various exchanges of strategies in the pits, Brad Keselowski (#2 Miller Lite Ford) emerged as the race leader.
After headlines were made last week at Kentucky about the spat between Danica Patrick (#10 GoDaddy Chevy) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (#88 Nationwide Chevy), the new highlight story would be the battle between Denny Hamlin (#11 FedEx Toyota) and Austin Dillon (#3 Dow Chevy). Promising retaliation after the previous day’s Xfinity Series race battle for the win. However, neither driver would contend for the win in Cup.
As the race worked past halfway, a variety of pit strategies would help put Kevin Harvick in contention for the lead (#4 Jimmy John’s Chevy), passing Keselowski on a series of pit stops. Keselowski would close in on Harvick as the drivers approached their final pit stops, but a caution with fifty laps to go for oil on the track would change everything.
Once the leaders had pitted, Kyle Busch, who had pitted earlier under green, assumed the lead. This would set up a battle royale once again between Team Penske and Joe Gibbs Racing in the closing forty laps. But it would be no battle, as coming down through the final laps, Kyle Busch would raise the lobster and win the 5-Hour Energy 301 at New Hampshire.
Kyle Busch will continue his charge toward the Top Thirty in points to get in the Chase for the Sprint Cup at Indianapolis in the Brickyard 400. Coverage can be seen on Sunday on NBCSN.