Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch battled for an eighth-place finish in the battered and bruised No. 18 M&Ms Toyota Camry Sunday in the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. His JGR teammates Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin sported equally-battered race cars, but failed to get the same results as Busch finishing 21st and 37th, respectively.
Busch started from the fifth position and stayed in the top 10 much of the race. On a restart on Lap 187, Kenseth’s No. 20 Dollar General Toyota got loose in front Busch; Busch got into Kenseth, and was in turn hit from behind by Kasey Kahne, causing extensive damage to Busch’s car. The M&Ms team made repairs while keeping Busch on the lead lap. A late-race caution put Busch in 20th for the restart with five laps to go; Busch picked up eight spots before another caution flew, setting up the green-white-checkered finish. Busch picked up four more spots in the final two laps.
Kenseth started 16th and was slowing but surely moving forward throughout the race, moving into the top five on Lap 160. He received little damage in his incident with Busch on Lap 187, and on the ensuing restart would get loose once again while battling Brad Keselowski; again, Kenseth received little damage. Kenseth remained in the top 10 until late in the race, when he made contact with Paul Menard and spun into the outside fence; necessary repairs caused Kenseth to lose a lap and restart 26th. He received the “Lucky Dog” with nine laps remaining, and worked his way up to the 21st position.
Hamlin started fourth in the No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota and ran in the top three for the early part of the race. Hamlin was caught one lap down after pitting on Lap 95 just before the caution flag flew, and his team discovered a problem with the fuel probe; subsequent repairs cost him a few more laps on the field. Hamlin made laps in spite of being four laps down in an attempt to gain points in the Chase, but was involved in an accident on Lap 181 that sent him to the garage. The team made repairs and sent Hamlin back on the track, where he was able to pick up a few more spots to finish 37th.
Former JGR driver Joey Logano won the Sylvania 300, followed by Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray and Jimmie Johnson.
Busch sits fifth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Challenger standings, with Kenseth in eighth. Hamlin is currently 13th in points, one spot away from qualifying for the next round of the Chase.
The Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series head to Dover International Speedway in Delaware this weekend. Keep up with the action at joegibbsracing.com.
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