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Kenseth Wins Loudon As Harvick Runs Out Of Fuel

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, September 27 2015
Matt Kenseth won at New Hampshire on Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Garry Eller)

Matt Kenseth won at New Hampshire on Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Garry Eller)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Matt Kenseth passed the fuel-starved car of Kevin Harvick with two laps to go and went on to win Sunday’s Race No. 2 of the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship playoff at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

chase 15 logoThe victory – his fifth of the year – sends the Joe Gibbs Racing driver to the second round of the playoffs which begins in two weeks.

The victory actually put a grin on Kenseth’s face.

“We had to be there to win,” the Wisconsin native said. “These Dollar General guys did a great job today. We didn’t pit that one time and I was like, ‘Ahhh,’ and Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) was like, ‘It’s fine, relax.’ We made it to the front faster than we thought. I was giving it everything I’ve got and I thought he (Kevin Harvick) was going to beat us and he had a better car today, but I guess he was a little short on fuel. This is unbelievable. This feels unbelievable.”

Denny Hamlin, Kenseth’s teammate, finished second a week after he won the first race of the Chase.

“You know,” Hamlin said, “we just have really been on a roll here lately, just getting good finishes and just everything is kind of clicking really well.  You know, I wish we could get more race wins. That’s the greedy part about it. But either way, very proud of ‑‑ this is all because of the work that Toyota and JGR puts into our race cars every week. Very proud to be driving for them.”

Asked about the JGR roll, Kenseth said he hope it continues for another eight weeks.

“The thing about rolls and momentum,” Kenseth said, “it can stop at any given moment so you have to enjoy it while it’s here. I’ve been enjoying driving this 20 car and working for Coach (Gibbs, team owner) and Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) and this whole group. It’s been awesome and I think we still have some more coming. It feels good.”

Chaser Joey Logano of Team Penske was third.

“We’ll take it,” Logano said. “It was a blue collar day.  It maybe wasn’t the fastest car and maybe not even a top-5 car at times, but we did a good job working on it.  Todd made some great calls and had some great pit stops and executed the race as good as we can with the car we had.  I’m proud of what my guys did and that sets us up pretty good for Dover.”

Rounding out the top five were non-Chaser Greg Biffle of Roush Fenway Racing, and JGR’s
Carl Edwards.

Harvick, who dominated the race in terms of laps led – 216 – finds his hopes of repeating as Cup champion reduced to wafer thing as his 21st-place finish come after he crashed and finished 42nd in the Chase openner at Chicagoland Speedway last week.

He may need to win next weekend at Dover to advance to the second round of the playoffs.

The finishing position for the other Chasers were: Jimmie Johnson, sixth; Jeff Gordon,
seventh; Martin Truex Jr., eighth; Ryan Newman 10th; Brad Keselowski, 12th; Jamie McMurray, 14th; Paul Menard, 15th; Kurt Busch, 19th; Dale Earnhardt Jr., 25th; Clint Bowyer, 26th; Kyle Busch, 37th.

Edwards started from the pole and led the first 19 laps. On Lap 20, he was passed by Harvick.

On his way past Edwards, Harvick – who last week attacked Jimmie Johnson after the race because he was angry at Johnson for banging fenders – swerved right into Edwards right rear quarter panel. The impact bent-in the bodywork of Edwards’ car.

From there, Edwards never again was able to mount a serious challenge for the lead. Worse, he was penalized for an equipment violation on Lap 161.

Harvick on the other hand held the lead on the track until yellow flag pitstops on Lap 195. Harvick, who had led 169 laps to that point, was first into the pits but came out seventh because his team opted to take four tires while the first five cars took two.

Restarting from the lead on Lap 197 was Kenseth.

Kenseth held the lead until Lap 211. On that lap, Harvick, who restarted fourth on Lap 209 but quicly jumped to second, moved back to the lead.

Just as the pass was made, a crash brought out another yellow. Harvick pitted while Kenseth stayed out and by doing so, re-captured the lead. Harvick restarted 12th on Lap 215.

With 82 laps to go, Hamlin passed Kenseth take his first lead of the day.

With 62, there another crash and another caution. Hamlin and Kenseth pitted. Greg Biffle took the lead for the restart. Also not pitting and restarting second and third were Keselowski and Harvick.

However, NASCAR penalized Keselowski for jumping the restart.

“It’s a pretty basic understanding,” Keselowski said. “It’s an entertainment sport, not a fair sport, but we had a great car.  The Miller Lite Penske Team was really strong.  I don’t know if we would have been able to beat the 20 and the 11.  It looked like they probably had four tires, but it was a heck of a rebound.  I’m really proud of my guys to come back and get a top-12 out of that without getting another yellow or catching any other breaks after the black flag, so that’s part of it.”

That put Harvick second behind Biffle. With 49 laps to go, Harvick moved back to the lead. Hamlin and Kenseth followed Harvick past Biffle a couple laps later and with 45 laps to go, were running second and third respectively.

With 25 laps to go, Kenseth moved past teammate Hamlin into second place. With 20 laps to go, Harvick had about a half second lead over Kenseth but a bigger problem was the fuel supply in the No. 4 car.

In the end, the fuel problem was a fatal problem.

(This story will be updated shortly)

The Chase Field after the first two races:

Driver                     SYLVANIA 300     Ahead of 13th

Matt Kenseth                 1st                           1 Win

Denny Hamlin               2nd                          1 Win

Carl Edwards                 5th                           +33

Joey Logano                  3rd                           +33

Jimmie Johnson           6th                           +27

Ryan Newman             10th                         +18

Kurt Busch                    19th                         +17

Brad Keselowski          12th                         +16

Martin Truex Jr.             8th                           +15

Jeff Gordon                    7th                           +12

Jamie McMurray           11th                         +2

Dale Earnhardt Jr.       25th                         +1

———————————————————————

Kyle Busch                  37th                          -1

Paul Menard                15th                          -1

Kevin Harvick              21st                           -23

Clint Bowyer                26th                          -39

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race – Sylvania 300

New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Loudon, New Hampshire

Sunday, September 27, 2015

  1. (13) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 300, $257276.
  2. (7) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 300, $189525.
  3. (8) Joey Logano, Ford, 300, $173483.
  4. (25) Greg Biffle, Ford, 300, $157383.
  5. (1) Carl Edwards, Toyota, 300, $123850.
  6. (5) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 300, $147876.
  7. (10) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 300, $142151.
  8. (21) Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, 300, $121210.
  9. (12) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 300, $107365.
  10. (9) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 300, $125190.
  11. (27) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 300, $125129.
  12. (4) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 300, $135781.
  13. (14) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 300, $97840.
  14. (23) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 300, $118606.
  15. (20) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 300, $95915.
  16. (33) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 300, $128365.
  17. (6) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 300, $114623.
  18. (19) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 300, $112553.
  19. (3) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 299, $102090.
  20. (29) Sam Hornish Jr., Ford, 299, $112735.
  21. (2) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 299, $143165.
  22. (16) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 299, $122226.
  23. (30) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 299, $115823.
  24. (28) Cole Whitt, Ford, 299, $98923.
  25. (11) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 299, $100665.
  26. (26) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 299, $118423.
  27. (31) Brett Moffitt #, Ford, 298, $85415.
  28. (34) David Gilliland, Ford, 297, $103273.
  29. (38) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 297, $83340.
  30. (35) Matt DiBenedetto #, Toyota, 297, $93637.
  31. (40) Josh Wise, Toyota, 297, $79890.
  32. (37) Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 296, $79615.
  33. (41) Jeb Burton #, Toyota, 295, $79390.
  34. (39) BJ McLeod(i), Chevrolet, 293, $79190.
  35. (42) Jeffrey Earnhardt(i), Ford, 292, $78990.
  36. (43) Timmy Hill(i), Ford, 284, $78760.
  37. (17) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 262, $123533.
  38. (32) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 242, $73727.
  39. (24) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, Accident, 236, $77655.
  40. (22) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, Accident, 203, $73655.
  41. (18) David Ragan, Toyota, Accident, 203, $88869.
  42. (36) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, Accident, 117, $57655.
  43. (15) Aric Almirola, Ford, Accident, 35, $91091.

 

Average Speed of Race Winner:  106.48 mph.

Time of Race:  02 Hrs, 58 Mins, 51 Secs. Margin of Victory:  8.941 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  9 for 41 laps.

Lead Changes:  16 among 7 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   C. Edwards 1-19; K. Harvick 20-37; B. Keselowski 38; C. Whitt 39; K. Harvick 40-120; B. Keselowski 121; K. Harvick 122-159; B. Keselowski 160; K. Harvick 161-192; B. Keselowski 193; M. Kenseth 194-210; K. Harvick 211; M. Kenseth 212-218; D. Hamlin 219-239; G. Biffle 240-251; K. Harvick 252-297; M. Kenseth 298-300.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  K. Harvick 6 times for 216 laps; M. Kenseth 3 times for 27 laps; D. Hamlin 1 time for 21 laps; C. Edwards 1 time for 19 laps; G. Biffle 1 time for 12 laps; B. Keselowski 4 times for 4 laps; C. Whitt 1 time for 1 lap.

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, September 27 2015
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