NASCAR results, 3 takeaways from New Hampshire: A shake-up before playoffs cutdown – Charlotte Observer

Kyle Busch clinched a spot in the second round of the NASCAR playoffs with his win at New Hampshire on Sunday, but there are other implications from the race, too. Here are the three biggest takeaways from Sunday’s race:

1. Busch presents himself as Truex’s biggest challenger – for now

For most of the season, Martin Truex Jr. has been in control of the NASCAR standings. He won four races during the regular season, and then notched his league-leading fifth win last weekend at Chicago to extend his league. It’s long been a question of who in that next tier of drivers can challenge Truex for the championship, and at least temporarily, there’s finally one name presenting itself. Busch’s win guarantees him a spot among the final 12 drivers, and he’s up to third in the standings. Even though Truex still won a stage in New Hampshire, Busch proved that he’s one of the favorites to challenge Truex down the stretch.

2. Kyle Larson not just a regular season fluke

Larson entered the playoffs at second place in the standings behind Truex. But it being only his second trip to the postseason, it was at least fair to wonder whether or not he’d be up for the stress of the playoffs. Through two races, Larson has eased any concerns. He came in fifth at Chicago last weekend before his runner-up finish in New Hampshire on Sunday, which kept him locked into second place in the standings. There’s plenty of racing left to be done, but if early indications count for anything, Larson’s regular season improvement this year wasn’t a fluke – he’s a legitimate favorite to be one of the last four drivers racing.

3. First major playoff wreck shakes up standings

Kevin Harvick and Austin Dillon made contact near the end of Stage 2 in New Hampshire, and that contact ultimately spun into a major collision that caught a handful of playoff drivers. Kurt Busch slammed into Harvick, ending both of their afternoons early and causing them to drop in the standings. Harvick is down to 10th and Busch is down to 15th, putting them both at risk of being eliminated next week at Dover. Truex was nearby when the crash happened, too. He damaged the left rear of his car when he tried to spin away, but ultimately he was able to finish the race.

NASCAR New Hampshire Auto Racing(2)

ISM Connect 300

The full race results, from the Associated Press:

Sunday

At New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Loudon, N.H.

Lap length: 1.058 miles

(Start position in parentheses)

1. (1) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 300 laps, 58 points.

2. (2) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 300, 50.

3. (10) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 300, 48.

4. (13) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 300, 45.

5. (5) Martin Truex Jr, Toyota, 300, 47.

6. (8) Erik Jones, Toyota, 300, 45.

7. (16) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 300, 30.

8. (25) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 300, 29.

9. (4) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 300, 36.

10. (39) Joey Logano, Ford, 300, 27.

11. (14) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 300, 26.

12. (3) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 300, 30.

13. (18) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 300, 24.

14. (12) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 300, 30.

15. (24) Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Ford, 300, 22.

16. (11) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 300, 22.

17. (20) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 300, 20.

18. (27) Danica Patrick, Ford, 300, 19.

19. (17) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 300, 18.

20. (19) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 300, 17.

21. (22) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 299, 16.

22. (30) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 298, 15.

23. (31) Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 298, 14.

24. (23) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 298, 13.

25. (28) Landon Cassill, Ford, 298, 12.

26. (29) Aric Almirola, Ford, 297, 11.

27. (33) Corey Lajoie, Toyota, 297, 10.

28. (35) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 297, 9.

29. (21) David Ragan, Ford, 296, 8.

30. (32) Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 296, 7.

31. (26) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 295, 6.

32. (36) Brett Moffitt, Toyota, 294, 0.

33. (34) Gray Gaulding, Chevrolet, 293, 4.

34. (15) Dale Earnhardt Jr, Chevrolet, 289, 3.

35. (9) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 289, 2.

36. (6) Kevin Harvick, Ford, accident, 148, 2.

37. (7) Kurt Busch, Ford, accident, 148, 1.

38. (37) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, accident, 143, 1.

39. (38) Cody Ware, Chevrolet, reargear, 74, 1.

Race Statistics

Average Speed of Race Winner: 108.957 mph.

Time of Race: 2 hours, 54 minutes, 47 seconds.

Margin of Victory: 2.641 seconds.

Caution Flags: 6 for 32 laps.

Lead Changes: 6 among 3 drivers.

Lap Leaders: Ky.Busch 1-39; M.Truex 40-77; K.Larson 78; M.Truex 79-149; Ky.Busch 150-264; M.Truex 265-267; Ky.Busch 268-300

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Led, Laps Led): Ky.Busch, 3 times for 184 laps; M.Truex, 3 times for 109 laps; K.Larson, 1 time for 0 laps.

Wins: M.Truex, 5; K.Larson, 4; Ky.Busch, 3; J.Johnson, 3; D.Hamlin, 2; B.Keselowski, 2; R.Stenhouse, 2; R.Blaney, 1; Ku.Busch, 1; A.Dillon, 1; K.Harvick, 1; K.Kahne, 1; J.Logano, 1; R.Newman, 1.

Top 16 in Points: 1. M.Truex, 2149; 2. K.Larson, 2125; 3. Ky.Busch, 2119; 4. B.Keselowski, 2106; 5. D.Hamlin, 2088; 6. M.Kenseth, 2087; 7. J.Johnson, 2076; 8. R.Blaney, 2070; 9. C.Elliott, 2070; 10. K.Harvick, 2069; 11. J.McMurray, 2053; 12. A.Dillon, 2044; 13. R.Stenhouse, 2044; 14. R.Newman, 2043; 15. Ku.Busch, 2027; 16. K.Kahne, 2023.

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