Matt Kenseth kept up his NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase record perfect by taking an assured win at New Hampshire, his seventh of the season.
For the second week in a row Kenseth led home his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch in a Toyota Camry 1-2. It was an extra special result for Kenseth as the race was his 500th Cup start.
“For me to win at New Hampshire, first of all, is more than a stretch and more than a dream,” Kenseth said. “This is probably one of my worst places. That just shows you how good this whole team is. … I didn’t even know there was a Victory Lane here.
“I felt really confident with my car today, but to have a fast car and to be able to do all the right things with adjustments and strategy and pit stops and all that stuff and be out front and win is two different things. So I’m thankful to be part of this group, and it honestly doesn’t really seem real that we won yet today.”
Greg Biffle’s Roush Fenway team did a great job in the pits to get the Ford Fusion into the top six, but it was a stunning double pass on Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. that earned Biffle third place.
Johnson was a top-six runner all day, and fourth place keeps his quest for a sixth title ticking along nicely.
It was a great day for Jamie McMurray, who was tipped into a spin by Earnhardt Ganassi teammate Juan Pablo Montoya before being collected by newcomer Kevin Swindell. But despite a stoved-in rear end, McMurray took fifth place, passing Earnhardt in the late stages.
It was also a good recovery for Earnhardt, who lost crucial track position with a pit stop problem. His team put him off-sequence and it worked, he led a lap and took sixth.
In a race of few retirements, it was a bad race for any of the Chasers to hit trouble.
After taking the lead from pole man Ryan Newman on lap three, Kasey Kahne looked set for a strong run. But when he lost the rear end on a late race restart and slammed into the infield wall he was condemned to a miserable 37th-place finish, which has hit his title hopes hard.
Other Chasers to struggle were Kevin Harvick, who battled an overheating motor in his Richard Childress Racing Chevy and finished 20th, and Clint Bowyer, who fell foul of a poorly timed caution, which put him at the tail of the pack at a track where overtaking is about as hard as it gets on an oval.
Results - 300 laps:Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Toyota 2h57m02.000s 2. Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Toyota +0.533s 3. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford +1.850s 4. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet +2.532s 5. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet +6.594s 6. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet +7.819s 7. Brian Vickers Waltrip Toyota +8.408s 8. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet +8.929s 9. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford +9.714s10. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota +10.637s11. Brad Keselowski Penske Ford +10.823s12. Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Toyota +12.346s13. Kurt Busch Furniture Row Chevrolet +13.440s14. Joey Logano Penske Ford +14.271s15. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet +15.029s16. Ryan Newman Stewart-Haas Chevrolet +16.125s17. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota +17.350s18. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford +19.488s19. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet +20.014s20. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet +20.191s21. Aric Almirola Petty Ford +21.370s22. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet +21.663s23. Mark Martin Stewart-Haas Chevrolet +23.272s24. Ricky Stenhouse Jr Roush Fenway Ford +23.559s25. Casey Mears Germain Ford +24.405s26. David Reutimann BK Toyota +26.001s27. Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet +26.763s28. Travis Kvapil BK Toyota +27.784s29. David Ragan Front Row Ford +1 lap30. Michael McDowell Phoenix Chevrolet +2 laps31. Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet +2 laps32. Josh Wise Front Row Ford +3 laps33. JJ Yeley Baldwin Chevrolet +4 laps34. Landon Cassill Hillman Chevrolet +4 laps35. Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota +4 laps36. Timmy Hill FAS Lane Ford +7 laps37. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet +22 laps38. Kevin Swindell Swan Toyota +56 lapsRetirements: David Gilliland Front Row Ford 239 laps Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota 161 laps Tony Raines Circle Sport Chevrolet 128 laps Johnny Sauter Parsons Ford 103 laps Scott Riggs Leavine Ford 92 laps