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Sunday, June 29
New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Kurt Busch's teammates hoist him into the air to celebrate their win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Kurt Busch Wins at New Hampshire Motor Speedway
LOUDON, N. H. (June 29, 2008) - Kurt Busch and his No. 2 Miller Lite team decided to go for fuel mileage Sunday, hoping to salvage a good finish in the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
For most of the afternoon, Busch raced under the radar while Tony Stewart, Casey Mears and a few others battled way ahead for the lead.
But Mother Nature smiled on Busch and a few other drivers after 284 of the 301 scheduled laps, drenching the track just 17 laps from completion.
Busch, who had inherited the lead when all the front-running cars had to pit for fuel after an accident brought out the day's fifth caution, captured his 18th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory
He wasn't alone in good fortune. Michael Waltrip, who finished second, and J. J. Yeley, who finished third, had pitted out of sequence from the leaders along with several other drivers and could make it to the finish without stopping again. All these cars were cruising around the track while Stewart and Co. were running flat-out towards the finish line.
"It's better sometimes to be lucky than good," Busch said afterwards. "We gambled on fuel mileage and came out ahead."
Trailing Busch, Waltrip and Yeley were Martin Truex, Jr., Elliott Sadler, Reed Sorenson, Mears, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Bobby Labonte, Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton, Stewart and Kevin Harvick.
The accident that sent all the leaders to the pits happened on lap 271 when Dale Earnhardt, Jr., dropped down out of the groove to pit. Jamie McMurray didn't see Earnhardt and smashed the rear end of Junior's car, which spun down pit road. McMurray's car careened across the race track and collected the side of David Ragan's car, spinning him around.
The finish was one of the more bizzare this season and produced another new winner in Kurt Busch. Ten different drivers have now won races this season.
The final caution fell just before the rain when Bowyer and Sam Hornish, Jr., got together in turn three.
Points leader Kyle Busch, who struggled most of the day, got into a bumping incident under this caution with former Formula One star Juan Pablo Montoya. Montoya turned Busch around, ending any chance Busch might have had for a better finish. Busch wound up 25th. NASCAR docked Montoya two laps for "aggressive driving," and the penalty put him in 32nd.
Threatening rain failed to dampen the enthusiasm and excitement of a near-capacity crowd at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
French-Canadian Patrick Carpentier, a fan favorite in this part of the country, started from his first pole position in a NASCAR Sprint Cup race. Carpentier, however, dropped to third by the fifth lap behind Harvick and Bobby Labonte. By lap 30, Harvick and Earnhardt, Jr., were a couple of seconds ahead with the cream of the NASCAR crop spaced out over a straightaway. Labonte was third, followed by Carpentier, Truex, A. J. Allmendinger, Hamlin, Kahne, Sorenson and Scott Riggs.
Earnhardt passed Harvick for the lead on the 45th lap, much to the delight of his rabid fans.
After the first green-flag pit stops, Harvick was back up front with Kahne on his bumper. Earnhardt was third at lap 86 when David Reutimann tapped Dario Franchitti's left rear fender, turning Franchitti around.
On the ensuing restart, Mears and Brian Vickers were up front with Harvick third. Stewart had moved from 28th starting position to fourth and Bowyer had moved from 18th to fifth. Bowyer, who won here last fall, had predicted a close, competitive race after practice on Saturday.
Behind Bowyer was Gordon, Hamlin and Johnson. Earnhardt was next, followed by Kahne, Truex and Labonte. Burton and Kyle Busch were next.
A caution for debris on the track slowed the fast-paced field at lap 140, with a majority of the field making a pit stop.
Stewart's No. 20 Home Depot pit crew put his Toyota back on the track first with Mears on his bumper. It was the first time Stewart led Sunday after having won Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series race. By the halfway point (150 laps of the 301-lap distance), Stewart was leading Mears by a few car lengths. Gordon had moved to third.
Joe Nemecheck spun to bring out another caution just a few laps after the restart.
The top 10 on the restart were Stewart, Gordon, Mears, Harvick, Bowyer, Johnson, Earnhardt, Hamlin, Burton and Truex.
Complete Race Results click here
Post-Race Driver Point Standings click here
NASCAR Newscast Race Recap click here
The Race: LENOX Industrial Tools 301
The Place: New Hampshire Motor Speedway
The Track: 1.058-mile oval
The Distance: 318 miles/301 laps
TV: TNT, 1:30 p.m. AT
Radio: MRN, SIRIUS Satellite Radio
2007 Winner: Denny Hamlin
2007 Polesitter: Dave Blaney
Pre-Race Schedule: Friday—Practice, noon-1:30 p.m.; Qualifying, 3:10 p.m.; Saturday — Practice, 9-9:50 a.m., Final Practice, 11:45 a.m.-12:45 p.m.
Year-To-Date Race Results & Driver Point Standings click here
Broadcast Times - AT*
Practice: Friday, June 27 (SPEED at 1 p.m.)
Qualifying: Friday, June 27 (SPEED at 4 p.m.)
Practice: Saturday, June 28 (SPEED at 10 a.m.)
Final Practice: Saturday, June 28 (SPEED at 12:30 p.m.)
RaceDay: Sunday, June 29 (SPEED at 11:30 a.m.)
Pre-Race: Sunday, June 29 (TNT at 1:30 p.m.)
Race: Sunday, June 29 (TNT at 3 p.m.; TSN-alt at 2:30 p.m.)
Race - encore: Monday, June 30 (TSN at 12:30 a.m.)
*AT is one hour ahead of ET, i.e. if it's 2 p.m./AT - it's 1 p.m./ET...
Canada's Patrick Carpentier won the Coors Light Pole Award for the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 with a lap of 29.349
seconds, 129.776 mph.
- This is his first pole in 17 career NASCAR Sprint Cup races. He was also the highest qualifying rookie.
- This is his second top-10 start in 2008 and was the fastest of the drivers required to make the field on
- This is Carpentier’s first career race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
- Bobby Labonte (second) posted his best start since he started from the pole at Texas in 2004. It is his
fourth top-10 in 2008 and his 14th in 26 races at New Hampshire.
- Kevin Harvick (third) posted his fifth top-10 start of 2008 and his eighth in 15 New Hampshire races.
- Dario Franchitti (seventh), also making his first career start at New Hampshire, posted his career-best
- Drivers that failed to qualify: Marcus Ambrose and Tony Raines.
- Complete Starting Lineup click here
- New Hampshire Marks Start Of “Race to the Chase”...Summer’s arrival means the “Race to the Chase,” the 10-race stretch that precedes the “Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.”
The Race to the Chase begins with this weekend’s LENOX Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway — the same track that will host the first Chase event on Sept. 14.
In between, expect a compelling combination of events and tracks that will both boost and stymie drivers’ hopes of qualifying for the Chase.
A reminder: The top 12 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings compete for the series title during the season’s final 10 races — the Chase.
En route to eligibility, drivers must excel at two legendary tracks — Daytona International Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway — plus shine in two of the nation’s top three media markets — Los Angeles (Auto Club Speedway) and Chicago (Chicagoland Speedway).
The season’s second of two road-course events, this time at New York’s Watkins Glen International, rolls around in August.
Then there’s the short-track component — demanding and rewarding all at once.
The night race at Bristol Motor Speedway high-banked half-mile comes first, following two weeks later by the final event in the “Race to the Chase” — or cutoff race — the
Chevy Rock & Roll 400 on Sept. 6 at the .75-mile Richmond International Raceway.
- Five And Counting: Kyle Busch Looking For Sixth Win Of 2008...As Kyle Busch (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota) continues stockpiling trophies and points, he also continues inviting superlatives.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings leader won for the fifth time this season last Sunday at Infineon Raceway, completing a victory at each style of track on the series schedule. With the road-course win, Busch now has triumphed at least once at a short track, intermediate track and restrictor-plate track in NASCAR Sprint Cup competition.
His series-high fifth win extended his lead to 103 points over second-place Jeff Burton (No. 31 LENOX Chevrolet). Prior to Infineon, Busch had weathered a two-week “lull”, finishing 43rd at Pocono Raceway and 13th at Michigan International Speedway.
As for New Hampshire, Busch should be considered a winning threat again this weekend. Along with his series-high Average Running Position of 9.6 (per NASCAR Loop Data) he has one win and three top-fives in six starts there.
- Kenseth Hits Stride, Becomes Chase-Eligible...Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Ford) has yet to visit Victory Lane in 2008, but no one has passed more competitors lately.
At least in the standings.
Rebounding from a slow start, the 2003 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion has gone from after-thought to Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup candidate in just six weeks — climbing from 22nd to 12th.
No one has gained more points (934) during that span, not even series leader Kyle Busch.
Kenseth’s Roush Fenway Racing teammate Carl Edwards boasts the second-highest total (920 points), followed by Busch (913), who won three races during that six-week span.
Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) is fourth (885) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (865) is fifth.
“I don’t know if it’s ever too early to look at it,” Kenseth said of the series standings. “You always look at it on the way home, especially if you’re moving up, to see where you’re at and see what happened. But, the bottom line is really you do the best you can every week, and try to finish as high as you can and try to lead laps and do all that and the points take care of themselves – the higher you finish, the more points you get.
“So, really, it’s not a strategy, when you race hard and try to be smart and do the right things and hopefully get some good finishes and get back in it.”
Although he hasn’t won at New Hampshire, Kenseth has five top fives, 11 top 10s and an average finish of 10.5 in 16 starts there.
- Bowyer, Gordon Proving Consistency A Key Chase Factor...Slow and steady doesn’t always win the race, but it does make the Chase.
Witness the progress of two top-12 drivers heading into Sunday’s LENOX Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire.
Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer haven’t posted the headline-grabbing performances of standings leader Kyle Busch and have only one win between them (Bowyer at Richmond), but nor have they faltered in 2008.
Gordon, who dominated the standings during the first half of 2007, may have made more headlines for not winning, yet perseverance has translated into consistency.
His third-place finish last Sunday at Infineon boosted him three spots to sixth in the standings. And New Hampshire represents another favorable stop on the schedule for him.
Gordon leads all active drivers with three wins, 12 top fives and 15 top 10s in 26 career starts there. He also has three poles, second only to Ryan Newman (No. 12 Alltel Dodge), who leads all active drivers with four New Hampshire poles.
Momentum also may be a factor for Bowyer at New Hampshire. Now in his third NASCAR Sprint Cup season, Bowyer participated in his first Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup last year, winning both his first career series race, also in his first Chase event, at New Hampshire last September.
“Since last fall, anytime anyone asks about my favorites race track, I tell them New Hampshire,” Bowyer said. “How can I not? That’s where I got my first win. Hopefully, we can go back there this weekend and be as fast as we were last time.
“I’m sure everyone else has gotten better since then but we’re hoping the same package we ran in September will be competitive again this Sunday and we can race for another win.”
- The Top 35: Sorensen On The Bubble; Riggs Not Far Behind...The No. 41 Target Dodge owned by Chip Ganassi and driven by Reed Sorensen is 35th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owner standings heading to New Hampshire.
Each week, the top-35 teams are guaranteed starting spots, with those outside the top 35 required to qualify on time.
Only 20 points separate the No. 41 from 36th place and the No. 66 State Water Heaters Chevrolet owned by Joe Custer and driven by Scott Riggs.
Another team teetering near the top-35 cutoff is the No. 7 Dodge owned and driven by Robby Gordon.
Both cars experienced difficulty last Sunday at Infineon Raceway, the No. 41, driven by road-course standout Scott Pruett in place of Sorensen, finished 38th following an accident.
The No. 7 finished 36th. Both teams dropped three spots in the owner standings — the No. 41 to 35th and the No. 7 to 34th.
Sorensen, who returns to his seat at New Hampshire, trails Gordon by only 11 points.
Gordon trails the 33rd-place Sam Hornish Jr., who drives the No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge owned by Roger Penske, by only nine points.
Trailing the No. 66 in 37th is the No. 84 Team Red Bull Toyota owned by Dietrich Mateschitz and driven by AJ Allmendinger.
In 38th is the No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota owned by Jeffrey Moorad and driven by J.J. Yeley.
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