Kyle Busch Claims Second Race of the First Round of Cup Playoffs

Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports

LOUDON, NH – RIS – Kyle Busch took the lead after a multi-car accident at the end of the second stage, and never looked back.  When Martin Truex, Jr. seemed to have the field covered, and on his way to another playoff victory in as many races, Austin Dillon spun Kevin Harvick with one lap to go in stage two, collecting Truex, Kurt Busch, and other playoff contenders.  It was the Big One on a mile low-banked track.

The ISM Connect 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway was a race of domination.  First Truex and then Kyle Busch.

Busch dominated the closing stage and beat Kyle Larson by nearly 3 seconds to win and automatically advance to the second round.

Matt Kenseth was third, Brad Keselowski fourth and Truex fought his way back from that multi-car crash to close Stage 2 to finish fifth.

“This thing was awesome," Busch said of his No. 18 Toyota, which he put on the pole and kept out of trouble in a points-jarring wreck that closed Stage 2. "We ran up front all day long. We executed. We did what we were supposed to do. It's pretty cool to win here on this hot day.

“It's just a testament to this team. It's fun to drive these Toyota Camrys. We know how fast they are. It's an awesome day for us. We had some really good short-run speed there at the end. We were really able to set the field, set the pace.”

Larson registered his eighth runner-up finish of the season. He has four wins so far.

"I've felt like on really long runs, I was fairly equal to those guys," Larson said. "On short runs, (Busch) was just really good. The 78 (Truex) was good, the 20 (Kenseth). I'm fine (with) second. Second will get us to Homestead (the four-driver finale).

"Obviously you want to win -- second is the first loser. But especially when you get to the playoffs, winning is really important, but consistency is just as important.”

Busch joins Martin Truex Jr., who won the playoff opener last weekend. The field will be cut from 16 to 12 drivers after next week's race at Dover International Speedway.

Eight cars were involved in an odd collision on Lap 149 when Harvick spun after contact from behind from Dillon on the backstretch. Harvick was subsequently struck by Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kurt Busch and a red flag period was issued as their cars had to be separated.

Truex’s left rear was heavily dented when he and Dale Earnhardt Jr. both attempted to back out of the smoky melee and drive away.

Harvick and Busch, both playoff-qualifiers, retired after 148 laps. Harvick finished 36th, Busch, 37th. Busch, who won the Daytona 500 to qualify for the playoffs, is in a must-win situation next week.

Kyle Busch, who had spent the entire race pursuing Truex, squeezed through a car-width opening between Harvick and the outside wall to avoid the crash and win the stage before the race was halted. Five of 16 title-eligible drivers were involved in the incident.

“That was pretty intense," Kyle Busch said after winning. "You couldn't see anything. There was just a wall of smoke. My crew chief told me to stop, which seemed like a good idea. I just checked up as much as I could and tried not to get wrecked from behind.”

Truex, who had led 109 laps, fell to sixth after the incident but was able to continue after repairs. He re-started 18th, but worked back to 10th on a Lap 220 caution.

Earlier the first stage was all Truex.  It was his 19th stage win this season.  Larson and Kyle Busch were second and third.

Unofficial Race Results for the 21St Annual Ism Connect 300 - September 24, 2017 - New Hampshire Motor Speedway - Loudon, NH

Fin, Str, Driver, Car, Laps, St1, St2, Pts, Tms, Laps, Playoff Pts, Status
1, Kyle Busch (P), No. 18 M&M's Caramel Toyota, 300, 3, 1, 58, 3, 187, 6, Running
2, Kyle Larson (P), No. 42 Target Chevrolet, 300, 2, 5, 50, 1, 1, , Running
10, Matt Kenseth (P), No. 20 SiriusXM Toyota, 300, 6, 2, 48, , , , Running
13, Brad Keselowski (P), No. 2 Miller Lite Ford, 300, 7, 3, 45, , , , Running
5, Martin Truex Jr. (P), No. 78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota, 300, 1, 6, 47, 3, 112, 1, Running
8, Erik Jones #, No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Extra Strength Toyota, 300, 4, 4, 45, , , , Running
16, Clint Bowyer, No. 14 Haas Automation Ford, 300, , , 30, , , , Running
25, Daniel Suarez #, No. 19 Comcast/ARRIS Toyota, 300, , , 29, , , , Running
4, Ryan Blaney (P), No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford, 300, 5, 9, 36, , , , Running
39, Joey Logano, No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, 300, , , 27, , , , Running
14, Chase Elliott (P), No. 24 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet, 300, , , 26, , , , Running
3, Denny Hamlin (P), No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota, 300, 9, 8, 30, , , , Running
18, Ryan Newman (P), No. 31 Childress Vineyards Chevrolet, 300, , , 24, , , , Running
12, Jimmie Johnson (P), No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet, 300, 8, 7, 30, , , , Running
24, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (P), No. 17 Fifth Third Bank Ford, 300, , , 22, , , , Running
11, Jamie McMurray (P), No. 1 Cessna Chevrolet, 300, , 10, 22, , , , Running
20, AJ Allmendinger, No. 47 Kroger ClickList Chevrolet, 300, , , 20, , , , Running
27, Danica Patrick, No. 10 Code 3 Associates Ford, 300, , , 19, , , , Running
17, Austin Dillon (P), No. 3 Chevrolet Accessories Chevrolet, 300, , , 18, , , , Running
19, Paul Menard, No. 27 Sylvania/Menards Chevrolet, 300, , , 17, , , , Running
22, Chris Buescher, No. 37 Scott Products Chevrolet, 299, , , 16, , , , Running
30, Ty Dillon #, No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet, 298, , , 15, , , , Running
31, Michael McDowell, No. 95 Procore Chevrolet, 298, , , 14, , , , Running
23, Trevor Bayne, No. 6 AdvoCare Ford, 298, , , 13, , , , Running
28, Landon Cassill, No. 34 MDS Transport Ford, 298, , , 12, , , , Running
29, Aric Almirola, No. 43 Smithfield Ford, 297, , , 11, , , , Running
33, Corey LaJoie #, No. 23 Schroth Racing Toyota, 297, , , 10, , , , Running
35, Reed Sorenson, No. 15 Ol' Hick Cooking Pellets Chevrolet, 297, , , 9, , , , Running
21, David Ragan, No. 38 Camping World/Good Sam Ford, 296, , , 8, , , , Running
32, Cole Whitt, No. 72 Rinnai Chevrolet, 296, , , 7, , , , Running
26, Matt DiBenedetto, No. 32 Ford EcoBoost Ford, 295, , , 6, , , , Running
36, * Brett Moffitt(i), No. 83 Super Donut Toyota, 294, , , 0, , , , Running
34, * Gray Gaulding #, No. 55 Wind River Environmental Toyota, 293, , , 4, , , , Running
15, Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet, 289, , , 3, , , , Running
9, Kasey Kahne (P), No. 5 Road to Race Day Chevrolet, 289, , , 2, , , , Running
6, Kevin Harvick (P), No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford, 148, 10, , 2, , , , Accident
7, Kurt Busch (P), No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford, 148, , , 1, , , , Accident
37, Jeffrey Earnhardt, No. 33 Hulu Chevrolet, 143, , , 1, , , , Accident
38, * Cody Ware, No. 51 Lilly Trucking Chevrolet, 74, , , 1, , , , Rear Gear
(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series, (*) Non-charter team, (#) Rookie

Time of Race: 02 Hrs, 54 Mins, 47 Secs.
Average Speed: 108.958 MPH
Margin of Victory: 2.641 Seconds
Race Comments: Kyle Busch won the ISM Connect 300 at New  Hampshire Motor Speedway, his 41st Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory. Prior to the green flag, the following cars dropped to the rear of the field for the reasons indicated: No. 13 (backup car), No. 34 and 37 (transmission change).
Caution Flags: 6 for 32 laps: Laps: 77-82 (Stage 1 Conclusion [47]); 151-159 (No.3, 4, 10, 11, 33, 41, 78, 88 Incident on the backstretch [None]); 221-225 (Debris in Turn 4 [3]); 264-267 (No.5 Incident in Turn 4 [11]); 269-272 (No.38 Incident in Turn 2 [10]); 274-277 (No.6 Incident in Turn 2 [27]).
Lead Changes: 6 among 3 drivers: Kyle Busch (P) 1-39; M. Truex Jr. (P) 40-77; K. Larson (P) 78; M. Truex Jr. (P) 79-149; Kyle Busch (P) 150-264; M. Truex Jr. (P) 265-267; Kyle Busch (P) 268-300.
American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award:  Kyle Busch, No.18 
Coors Light Pole Award:  Kyle Busch, No.18 135.049 mph
Ingersoll Rand Power Move:  Denny Hamlin, No.11 5 positions
Mahle Clevite Engine Builder of the Race:  Toyota Racing Development (TRD), No.18 
Mobil 1 Driver of the Race:  Kyle Busch, No.18 
Moog Go the Extra Mile:  Matt Kenseth, No.20 crew chief Jason Ratcliff, 0.142 seconds
Sherwin-Williams Fastest Lap:  Kyle Busch, No.18 
Sunoco Rookie of the Race:  Erik Jones, No.77

Ron Fleshman with John Davison

RIS NASCAR Editor.  Has been with RIS since the middle 90's. Writes on each of the three main series of NASCAR.

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Volume 2017, Issue 9, Posted 7:54 PM, 09.24.2017