Kyle Busch Dominated The ISM Connect 300 In New Hampshire To Solidify Spot In The Second Round Of The Playoffsby Sarah Sedwick September 24, 2017
LOUDON, N.H. – Kyle Busch won the ISM Connect 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday, after gaining momentum following a multi-car accident.
Busch, driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 M&M’s Caramel Toyota, won his second consecutive pole of the Playoffs and led a total of 187 laps at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. After narrowly avoiding a multi-car crash on lap 151, which involved leader, Martin Truex Jr., Busch quickly regained the lead which resulted in a victory at the track. This win was Busch’s third at the track, and it marks the 41st victory of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career.
“It was just a great day for our team and for the 18 team,” said Busch. “We were able to execute all day long and we did everything right. We did everything we were supposed to do and that’s where you end up when we’re able to do those things. It was a great race up front too, with the 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) there. The 20 (Matt Kenseth) was there for a little. I think he was a little better on that long run that one time, but overall, we had some really good short run speed there at the end. We were able to get out front there and kind of set the field because – set the pace – and that was what we needed to do today.”
Kyle Larson, driver of the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Target Chevrolet, placed second and posted his fifth top-10 finish in eight races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The runner-up finish was Larson’s 17th top-10 finish of the season. Larson also ranks second in the Playoff points standings after this race, trailing behind Martin Truex Jr., with a 24-point difference.
“I think if I can keep up these top‑five runs and good stage finishes, you could probably point your way to them, but I would prefer to get a win in each of these rounds,” said Larson. “If we can keep the good runs going, we should be all right. Obviously, I think as you get into the later rounds, wins are even more important than they are now. We had good regular season points, gave ourselves some good playoff points. This first round I knew would be fairly easy, but I think as we get into the next round and then the third round, a win would be great.”
Matt Kenseth, driver of Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 SiriusXM Toyota, finished third on Sunday. Kenseth, who was a favorite going into the race, had some issues getting through the cautions and restarts, but he ultimately fulfilled the expectations he gained going into New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
“We were decent on the long run, just really struggled getting through the gears and getting through one and two,” said Kenseth. “That really hurt us at the end, obviously, with all those short runs and restarts at the end. I thought we had a third‑place car most of the day. I thought the 78 and 18 were better. If I had the track position, I felt like I could do okay with them on the long run, but short run they’d get away from me pretty far, and it was hard to make that distance back up.”
Brad Keselowski took fourth place, while Martin Truex Jr. went on to finish fifth after working his way up from the back of the pack following both, an involvement in an accident and car troubles earlier on in the race. The top-five finishers were followed by Erik Jones, Clint Bowyer, Daniel Suarez, Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano.
There were seven lead changes throughout the race between Busch, Truex Jr. and Larson. Busch led a race high of 187 laps.
Throughout the race, there were six cautions. The only caution for a multicar accident occurred on lap 151. Kevin Harvick lost control, which collected seven other drivers. Those involved included Austin Dillon, Danica Patrick, Denny Hamlin, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“I know as I got sideways there, I tried to get thing whoa’d down and pointed in the right direction and it snapped back the other way,” said Harvick. “I tried to lock it down and it was too far up across the race track. I knew I was probably worse off at that particular point, so once it turned back right and I was in trouble I should have just tried to keep it left, but I couldn’t really tell where I was with all the smoke and everything that was happening. I just got hit from behind and spun out.”
Martin Truex Jr. still remains at the top of the points standings with 2149, while Larson follows in second with 2125, a 24-point difference among the drivers. Kyle Busch takes third place with 2119, 30 points following Truex. Brad Keselowski holds fourth with 2106, trailing 43 points. Finishing out the top-five in the Playoff Points standings is Denny Hamlin, with 2088, which falls behind Truex with a 61-point difference.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will continue at Dover International Speedway next Sunday, October 1at 2:00 p.m. ET for the last race of the second round. The race will air live on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN).
Photo Credit: Brenda Meserve of Brenda Jane Photography