Length: 1 mile
Banking: 1⁰ on straightaways
Under blue skies in Loudon, New Hampshire, pole-sitter Carl Edwards led the field to green and successfully held the lead for 31 laps until his Toyota teammate Martin Truex Jr took over. Truex ran away with the lead which made the second race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup chase rather uneventful. So uneventful that it set a record for the longest green flag run at Loudon.
The first caution of the day didn’t fly until Lap 124, for debris in Turn 1. On the second caution, at Lap 165, which was again for debris, but this time on the back straightaway; Truex’s dominant lead was taken away by the No.20 of Matt Kenseth. Truex took two new tires during the caution while Kenseth took 4. The better grip from the fresh tires allowed Kenseth to not only take the lead but hold it for 105 laps.
The rest of the cautions were for single-car smoking, tire rubs, or two car spins. The cautions were all fairly minor; however, during the fifth caution of the day, Joe Gibbs drivers Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards were penalized for an uncontrolled tire and a commitment line violation respectively.
The most notable stories of the day involved Kasey Kahne, Joey Logano, and of course, winner Kevin Harvick. Kahne was sent to the rear of the field (39th) before the race started for a violation. The Team Hendrick driver battled his way through traffic all day and finished in the 9th position.
Joey Logano, who considers Loudon his home-track and has been noted as saying that winning at New Hampshire was bigger and means more to him than winning at Daytona, had a rough day. Despite having won at Loudon twice in his career, Logano had handling trouble early in the race and wasn’t able to find speed, which put him a lap down and, eventually, two laps down. Luckily, the Team Penske driver got the wave-around on the second caution and was able to pull off an 11th place finish.
Kevin Harvick, who had horrible luck in the chase opener at Chicagoland Speedway as he was stuck a lap down, finished 20th and fell out of the top 12 in the Chase, seized the first place position from Matt Kenseth with only 8 laps to go. Kenseth had been looking for his third consecutive win at Loudon and had been strong all day. Last year, Harvick had run out of gas while leading at New Hampshire, but this time parked it in victory lane for the third time this season. This marks his 34th career win, his second at Loudon, and puts him in a good position going into the round of 12 in two weeks at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Tickets to the final race of the round of 16 at Dover International Speedway: http://www.doverspeedway.com/oct-2-2016-tickets/
Tickets to the first race of the round of 12 at Charlotte Motor Speedway: