The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series was at New Hampshire Motor Speedway earlier this year for their regular season race in July. It ended with Denny Hamlin taking home the checkered flag after a very mild race. This time, it played out a little differently:
Though Stage 1 was uneventful in the way of cautions, it was still entertaining as multiple playoff drivers battled for position. Pole-sitter Kyle Busch lost the lead half-way through the 50-lap segment to Martin Truex Jr who went on to win his 19th stage victory of the season.
Stage 2 was also relatively uneventful until the final lap when the #4 of Kevin Harvick and the #3 of Austin Dillon were jockeying for position. Dillon tapped the back of Harvick which sent the #4 car spinning down the backstretch, leaving a giant, obliterating smoke trail in its wake. Harvick’s teammate, Kurt Busch, couldn’t see due to the smokescreen and ended up plowing into the right side of Harvick. The hit was so hard the two cars literally became hooked together. As the domino effect continued, the #33 of Jeffery Earnhardt locked up the breaks but still ending up rear-ending Busch. Leader Martin Truex Jr tapped the back of the #33 and spun which then caused Dale Earnhardt Jr to swerve to avoid Truex, but spun himself in the process. When trying to reverse out of the situation, Earnhardt Jr and Truex actually backed up into each other.
Kyle Busch managed to squeak past the unfolding mess to capture the stage victory and the race was red flagged as crews cleaned up the damage. Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch, two drivers contending for a championship, were subsequently finished for the day and ended the race in the 37th and 38th position respectfully.
Stage 3 also got off to an uneventful start. It wasn’t until 79 laps to go that the caution flag started to come on quickly. On Lap 221 there was debris in Turn 3; on Lap 262, Kasey Kahne had a flat tire and was trying to make it back to pit road when the car suddenly stopped completely on the top of the racetrack; on Lap 267, David Ragan spun and slammed the wall; and with 28 to go, Trevor Bayne spun down the backstretch.
When the race restarted with 25 to go, Kyle Busch drove off with the lead and took home the checkered flag. This was his 41st career victory and his 3rd this year. With this win, he will automatically advance to the Round of 12 in the playoffs.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will be at Dover International Speedway next week for the elimination race of the Round of 16 in the playoffs. You won’t want to miss it so get your tickets HERE!