NASCAR: Kyle Busch wins 5 Hour Energy 301 in New Hampshire
In a mostly clean and trouble free race, Kyle Busch won at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. That’s the third win this season for the recovering Joe Gibbs Racing driver. The race began on time with Carl Edwards on pole, and Joey Logano lost the second place to Kyle Busch.
The top three was followed by David Ragan and Kurt Busch, whereas the battle for seventh spot between Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson began immediately. Hamlin eventually dropped to ninth, behind Keselowski, Ragan and Kenseth, who was fifth. Kyle Busch was closing the gap and by lap 20, it was already 0.138s. On the same lap, Kyle Busch gained the lead, and on lap 22, the first caution flew for debris. A lot of drivers pitted during the period, icluding Keselowski and Harvick, but the leaders stayed out on the track.
The race restarted on lap 27 and Kurt Busch overtook Carl Edwards who dropped to third. On lap 52, Brad Keselowski made a move on his team mate Joey Logano and went up to fourth, and on lap 55, he went up to third by overtaking Carl Edwards and then to second by passing Kurt Busch. Kevin Harvick and Dale Jr. seized the opportunity and went up to fourth and fifth. On lap 67, Brad Keselowski took the lead from Kyle Busch and started expanding the gap.
Around lap 78, the green flag pit window was open and Carl Edwards was the first to pit, followed by Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin. Kyle Busch went to the pits from second and replaced all four tires. Kenseth was issued with a drive-through penalty for entering the pits too fast. On lap 88, Harvick and race leader Brad Keselowski pitted, leaving Jeff Gordon in the lead until he went to the pits as well on lap 91 which pushed AJ Allmendinger to the lead. Caution soon flew for debris and Alex Bowman’s car caught fire in the pits.
As AJ Allemdinger pitted, the lead went back to Keselowski and the race restarted on lap 108 with Busch brothers racing for second. Dale Jr. squeezed between them and Kyle Busch was forced down to fourth. On lap 117, third caution flew for debris. Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson pitted for tire changes. The race restarted on lap 122 and the Busch brothers were on second and third again while Dale Jr. dropped to fourth. Ryan Blaney was improving his position and went up to seventh, but had to pit due to a loose wheel, dropping to 35th. Kevin Harvick went up to fourth, and then third when he overtook Kurt Busch on lap 136.
Halfway into the race, Brad Keselowski was still leading Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch with Dale Jr. in top five. The pack was was followed by Kasey Kahne, Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr, Jeff Gordon and AJ Allmendinger in top ten. Kevin Harvick eventually climbed to second, pushing Kyle Busch to third. Kyle Busch reported loose wheel and on lap 171, Kurt Busch pitted, opening the green flag pit stop window. Truex Jr. was the next to pit, followed by Kevin Harvick and Dale Jr on lap 176.
On lap 177, Kyle Busch pitted too, as well as Jeff Gordon and Denny Hamlin. Jamie McMurray pitted on lap 178, and so did the race leader Brad Keselowski, leaving the lead to Logano and the second place to Carl Edwards. Jimmie Johnson had to serve a drive through penalty for speeding in the pits.
On lap 188, the caution flag flew for debris in turn 3. Logano gave up the lead to pit, and so did Carl Edwards, Paul Menard and Matt Kenseth. Logano won the pit road race off, but Keselowski was back in the lead. On lap 193, Keselowski dropped to third giving way to Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch. Eventually, Keselowski returned to second.
On lap 197, Paul Menard suffered a cut tire, but failed to pit and on lap 200, the caution flag flew when he spun entering the pit road. On lap 204, the race restarted with Kevin Harvick defending the lead from Keselowski and Kyle Busch, who was soon overtaken by his team mate Matt Kenseth who got to third. S
moke coming out of Justin Allgaier’s car saw drivers hoping for a caution, but the race stayed green. Keselowski was closing down on Harvick and by lap 240 the top two has broken away from Matt Kenseth who was more than three seconds behind them.
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On lap 251, the caution came out for potential oil in turn 2 and Kyle Busch went back to the lead by performing a great tactical maneuver. Jimmie Johnson was issued another speeding penalty. With 45 laps to go, the race restarted with a battle between Kenseth and Keselowski while Kyle Busch managed to keep his lead. Joey Logano joined the battle for second and pushed Kenseth to fourth.
Kevin Harvick took the fifth from Edwards who fell to seventh, behind Dale Jr. Harvick improved to fourth on lap 268 when he overtook Matt Kenseth. The following laps were marked by two battles: one between Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick, and the other between Matt Kenseth and Dale Jr. With 14 laps to go, Dale Jr. managed to pass Kenseth, and Joey Logano also dropped to fourth making way for Harvick.
With ten laps to go, Kyle Busch lead by 1.5s over Brad Keselowski, but with five laps to go, the Keselowski closed the gap to a second. With two laps to go, the gap was back to 1,5s again. In the last lap, the yellow was deployed for Alex Bowman getting into trouble again, hitting the wall and Kyle Busch won the race over Brad Keselowski. Harvick, Logano and Dale Jr. finished the race in top five, followed by Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Austin Dillon, Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch.