I thought Sunday was one of the better races we’ve had at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in a while. I stayed pretty much glued to the action to see how things were going to play out. I think the reason it was so captivating was because of all the cautions that were flying and all the different strategies we were seeing teams go with.
It was a challenge to keep up with all the different strategies I saw come into play. I just have to say, who in the world would have thought that the winning strategy would be a driver that had to hit pit road early at Lap 244, with 57 laps to go, changing four tires because he thought he had a tire going down, then the caution flew only seven laps later and that ends up being the strategy that wins the race?
I bet when the caution flew and most everyone else only took two tires, Kyle Busch and crew chief Adam Stevens had to have felt their goose was cooked. What an unbelievable move Kyle made not only to be the first driver to get the free pass, but to make that move on the frontstretch between Brad Keselowski and race-leader Kevin Harvick to get back on the lead lap.
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There’s no question in my mind that was the race-winning move. The success of the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas have to have everybody shaking their heads. Now sure, they had won a couple races earlier in the season, but when we got to the month of June all of us were talking about what’s wrong with Joe Gibbs Racing and the Toyota camp.
Much like Roush Fenway Racing’s struggles compared to the success of the Team Penske Fords, the Michael Waltrip Racing bunch has to be ready to jump off that same bridge with Jack Roush based on how the other Toyotas are racing. There really is a big performance gap now between Joe Gibbs Racing and the Michael Waltrip Racing camps.
I found it interesting that the best Hendrick Motorsports driver wasn’t Jimmie Johnson, but instead was Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The weather also played a role Sunday. It was clearly the hottest race of the season for these drivers. AJ Allmendinger, who had been fighting strep throat all week, needed medical attention after the race. Michael Annett needed to be hauled off on a stretcher. I know folks thought that Brad Keselowski was mad in the Media Center, but I think the man was used up and he had to go get medical attention as well.
Another thing interesting about Brad is that for the last two weeks he has led the most laps, but did not go to Victory Lane either time. I am sure that’s where the feeling of being mad or frustrated came from in the media center. Brad needs to remember the glass is half full because Sunday was his first top-five finish since Texas back in April.
The Chase picture really didn’t change much Sunday. In my book, after his second win in a row and third in four weeks, it’s not a question of IF Kyle Busch will get to the top 30 in points to qualify for the Chase but more of WHEN will he get there. Look for that to happen in the next two or three weeks.