LOUDON, N.H. – Kevin Harvick landed in victory lane for a repeat win in Sunday’s Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. This win marks Harvick’s fourth career win at Loudon, tying the record currently held by Jeff Burton for the most wins at “The Magic Mile.” The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver earned his first win of the 2019 season not only for himself, but for Stewart-Haas Racing.
“We’ve run well enough a few times this year, we’ve just made mistakes,” said Harvick. “To finally battle and get over that hump is a great day at Stewart-Haas Racing and everybody on the No. 4 car. I was really questionable about how that was going to go, and that thing just took right off.”
In a race that featured several lead changes and plenty of close action, it was a last-lap battle between Harvick and Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11, all the way to the finish line that got the crowd to its feet. The top two fought through lapped traffic after Hamlin made a pass attempt in turns one and two. Harvick stood on the brakes and tried to keep it straight knowing Hamlin was going to roll the dice and take another shot at the win.
“The lapped traffic didn’t budge, the No. 11 was right there and I knew he was going to take a shot,” said Harvick. “That’s what you’re supposed to do on the last lap – throw it all out on the table and take some chances. That’s what we both did, and luckily today we came out on top.”
With this win, Harvick cements a place in the playoffs and takes the pressure off of a race team that had performed well in points, but was still on the outside looking in.
Following Hamlin’s second place finish, were Erik Jones, Ryan Blaney, Matt DiBenedetto, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Newman, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and pole sitter Brad Keselowski.
Hampstead, N.H. native and longtime NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour driver, Andy Seuss, made his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut in Sunday’s race in the No. 51 Jacob Companies Ford, finishing 28th. Also making his Cup Series debut was Fort Kent, Maine native Austin Theriault, who drove the No. 52 Bangor Savings Bank Chevrolet and placed 35th.
For ticket information for all 2019 events at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, including the September 20-21 Full Throttle Fall Weekend, visit the speedway website at NHMS.com or call Fan Relations at (603) 783-4931.
BROOKLYN, Mich. – Sitting in his racecar during a red flag delay near the end of the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway, Kyle Larson pondered the possible routes to an overtime victory. He was in fourth-place and would restart for the final two-lap shootout behind leader Martin Truex Jr.
Larson hadn’t had a fast racecar all day at Michigan International Speedway, but he thought with a gutsy move on the restart, he could steal a win in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. Ahead of him, Truex, the race leader, was in the opposite positon. He had had a fast racecar all day, and he figured he needed a strong restart to repel whatever move Larson or somebody else would throw at him. Like Larson, he was trying to figure out which scenario would be most likely to take him to Victory Lane.
As it turned out, Larson and Truex both drew up the same plan—they both wanted Larson to hit Truex on the restart. They just had different ideas about what would happen after that.
Truex hoped the contact would push him forward and to the victory, and for a very brief second, that seemed possible. But Truex spun his tires, which played right into Larson’s strategy.
“I wanted to time it and get to his bumper and act like I was pushing him out to the lead and duck underneath him and get to his left-rear quarter and pull him back,” Larson said. “It’s crazy how when you get to someone’s left rear quarter how much it slows them down. It did just that.”
Larson bounced off of Truex as he passed him, and for a split second the race fanned out four wide. That never ends well—especially not on the penultimate lap when all four drivers are going for the win. But somehow they all stayed off each other, and afterward, rookie Erik Jones, one of those drivers, was at a loss to explain how. “I was pointed at the infield for half of (Turns) one and two,” said Jones, who finished third.
After the pass, Larson’s car was loose for the rest of the restart lap and the white flag lap. But he put enough distance between him and Truex that Truex couldn’t catch him and had to settle for second. Those were the only two laps Larson led all day. The thrilling win in a car that had no business doing so looked like a career defining move for Larson, the young driver from California.
The win was an exclamation point on an already great week of racing for Larson. He finished second late Saturday night in the Knoxville Nationals, one of the biggest dirt races in the world. His contract forbids him from running on dirt the night before he has to be on track for NASCAR, be it practice, qualifying or a race. But on Thursday, he talked team owner Chip Ganassi into making an exception.
Ganassi harbored misgivings about the decision—he thought Larson, who didn’t get back to Michigan from Knoxville, Iowa until 2:30 a.m. Sunday might be too worn out for the 400 mile race, and those doubts grew bigger in the middle of the race as Larson languished in the middle of the pack. But after the win, Ganassi joyously shook team members on the pit box and planted a kiss on Larson.
It was Larson’s third consecutive win at Michigan. The only other drivers to accomplish that are David Pearson and Bill Elliott, both of whom are in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The race was slowed by five cautions for 28 laps.
Michigan native Brad Keselowski won the first stage. He dominated the first half of the race, leading five times for 105 laps. But he faded to 17th. Truex led three times for 57 laps and won the second stage. Truex kept his position atop the points race, but finished runner-up.
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – At a track where his father raced, and a track where he was a “garage rat” as a child, Martin Truex Jr. won Sunday’s I Love New York 355 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race by slowing down over the closing laps.
Truex let Brad Keselowski pass him for the lead on Lap 77 of 90. On instructions from crew chief Cole Pearn, Truex also let Ryan Blaney past his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota on Lap 83.
All the while, Truex was saving fuel, with Pearn calculating that both Keselowski and Blaney would have to stop for a splash of gas. The strategy played out as expected, with Keselowski giving up the lead for a trip to pit road on Lap 87 and Blaney following a lap later.
That left Truex to hold off a desperate charge from Matt Kenseth on the final lap, with Truex streaking across the finish line .414 seconds ahead of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Camry. Kenseth’s teammate, Daniel Suarez, rolled home in third to register a career-best result.
“I’m a little bit lost for words at the moment, just because I’ve been thinking about this one a long time – all weekend, all day,” said Truex, who won for the fourth time this season and the 11th time in his career.
“Then, at the end there, just it’s so hard there to let guys pass you for the lead. You’ve just got to listen to your crew chief and, luckily for me, I’ve got the best one in the business, and I just believe in him so much, and I just do what he says and it seems to work out.”
Kenseth, who remains on the playoff bubble with four races left before the 16-driver field is set, was disappointed at coming so close to the victory—one that would have guaranteed him a playoff spot.
“I’m second happiest,” said Kenseth who was also saving fuel and gunned it on the last lap. “Martin is the happiest. We really needed the win. Honestly, I don’t even think about the playoffs. I more think about coming here for however many, 15, 17, 18 years, whatever it’s been, and not really having a win or an opportunity to win and never even really been that great here.
“I felt like we had a top-five car. Obviously, we had good fortune there at the end with our track position and our fuel mileage and all that to stay in it and have a shot at it, but man, when it’s that close and you see him saving and you’re saving and then you go after him there on that last lap, it’s disappointing not to get it. Especially when I saw him miss Turn 6, I was like, ‘Man, I’m going to have a shot,’ and he was so fast I still couldn’t get to him getting into (Turn) 7.”
Polesitter Kyle Busch led all 20 laps of the race’s first stage, but a snafu on pit road left his left front wheel loose, and Busch had to return under caution during the stage break to correct the problem. That left him deep in the field for the subsequent restart on Lap 25.
Busch worked his way back into the top 10, but after restarting ninth on Lap 45, his No. 18 Toyota and Keselowski’s No. 2 Ford collided in the bus stop chicane, sending both cars off course. Busch wasn’t a contender for the victory after that, though he did rally to finish seventh.
Notes: Truex expanded his series lead to 116 points over Kyle Busch, who moved past 23rd-place finisher Kyle Larson for second place. … Truex also increased his playoff point total to 34. Three-time winner Jimmie Johnson is second with 16. … Busch collected his ninth stage win to raise his playoff point total to 14. … The three winless drivers currently in playoff-eligible positions (Chase Elliott, Jamie McMurray and Kenseth) are seventh, eighth and ninth in the standings, respectively, all within an 11-point range.