Monday, September 23, 2013

Kenseth Goes Back-to-Back in New Hampshire

Originally written for CLNS Radio.

Matt Kenseth became the first driver to open the Chase with two straight wins by winning the Sylvania 300 from New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Justin Edmonds/Getty Images
By winning the race, Kenseth opened up his points lead over teammate Kyle Busch, who finished second for the second-straight race.  

The race was also Kenseth's 500th career race, and he joined Richard Petty as the only other driver to win in their 500th career start.

Coming into the weekend, no one expected Kenseth to run well at a track that has statistically been one of his worst.  Kenseth said he was thinking of that when he showed up this weekend.

"For me to win at Loudon is more of a stretch and more of a dream," Kenseth told ESPN.  "This is probably one of my worst places."

Kenseth also reiterated that he is only focusing on next weekend, and that he is happy to return to one of his best tracks in Dover.

"I keep taking it one at a time," Kenseth said.  "I just feel like the luckiest guy in the world right now, and I look forward to getting to Dover."

Ryan Newman started first after winning his second pole of the season, and he took the lead when the green flag fell.  He led until Kasey Kahne took the lead on lap three.  

Josh Wise spun on lap 29 to bring out the first caution of the day, just one lap before the competition caution was scheduled to come out.

Martin Truex Jr. took the lead when the green flag came back out on lap 36.  Just two laps later, Jamie McMurray was spun by his teammate Juan Pablo Montoya to bring out the second caution of the day.
After a long caution to clean up the track, the green flag came back out on lap 47, and Truex led the field into Turn 1.  On lap 52, Bobby Labonte, in his first race back after breaking his ribs a few weeks ago, spun down the frontstretch to bring out the third caution.

Truex led the field back to the green flag on lap 60.  He led until the first round of green flag pit stops started, and he gave up the lead on lap 109.  

After everyone had made their pit stops, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the leader because he and his team were on a different pit strategy.  He led until he was forced to pit for fuel on lap 131.  Truex inherited the lead when Earnhardt pitted.

On lap 153, Matt Kenseth took the lead for the first time of the race.  On lap 165, the fourth caution of the day came out for debris.  The leaders came down pit road, and Jeff Gordon won the race off pit road.

Gordon led the field back to the green flag on lap 170.  He led until the fifth caution of the day came out on lap 200 for debris.  Jimmie Johnson won the race off pit road, but Clint Bowyer and Marcos Ambrose did not pit and they led the field back to the green flag on lap 206.

Kenseth took the lead for the final time on lap 208 when he got around Bowyer. 

On lap 246, David Gilliland started smoking to bring out the sixth caution.  The leaders came down to make their final pit stops, and Kenseth was able to win the race off pit road.  He led the field back to the green flag on lap 251, but the final caution came out on lap 253 when Kasey Kahne wrecked into the inside wall.

Kenseth led the field to the green flag on lap 258, and he was able to hold off his teammate Kyle Busch to win the Sylvania 300.

Here are the unofficial results:

1. Matt Kenseth
2. Kyle Busch
3. Greg Biffle
4. Jimmie Johnson
5. Jamie McMurray
6. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
7. Brian Vickers
8. Jeff Burton
9. Carl Edwards
10. Martin Truex Jr.
11. Brad Keselowski
12. Denny Hamlin
13. Kurt Busch
14. Joey Logano
15. Jeff Gordon
16. Ryan Newman
17. Clint Bowyer
18. Marcos Ambrose
19. Juan Pablo Montoya
20. Kevin Harvick
21. Aric Almirola
22. Paul Menard
23. Mark Martin
24. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
25. Casey Mears
26. David Reutimann
27. Danica Patrick
28. Travis Kvapil
29. David Ragan
30. Michael McDowell
31. Dave Blaney
32. Josh Wise
33. J.J. Yeley
34. Landon Cassill
35. Joe Nemechek
36. Timmy Hill
37. Kasey Kahne
38. Kevin Swindell
39. David Gilliland
40. Bobby Labonte
41. Tony Raines
42. Johnny Sauter
43. Scott Riggs

Next weekend, the Chase continues at Dover International Speedway.  The AAA 400 can be seen next Sunday at 2 p.m., only on ESPN.

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