Troubles for the Chase Contenders at New Hampshire Motor Speedway seemed to be the topic for today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race.
Denny Hamlin, after leading 32 of the first 70 laps of the SYLVANIA 300, the fuel would not flow into the fuel cell. The #11 Fed-Ex Ground Toyota team found out they had an issue with the probe inside the car engaging with the fuel can. After going down a lap in 25th position his team was able to rectify the problem on Lap 104 under caution for debris. Coming back onto the track 4 laps down Hamlin’s day would end after getting caught up in a wreck on Lap 181 on Turn 2. Hamlin would finish the day in 37th, 38 laps down the lowest of the Chase contenders.
Within minutes on Lap 189 the caution would come out again involving the Chase drivers of Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M’s Toyota, Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Quicken Loans Chevrolet, Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, and non Chase driver Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 Belkin/WEMO Chevrolet.
As Kenseth was under McMurray racing for 8th spot, the #20 got loose in Turn 2, with the back of the #20 Toyota swinging around and suddenly slowing, with nowhere to go causing a chain reaction, Kyle Busch, fellow Joe Gibbs teammate, slammed into the back of the #20. Kahne then plowed into the back of Busch and Newman drove into the back of Kahne. Busch would rebound and finish in 8th, whereas Newman would finish in 18th and Kahne would finish in 23rd.
On Lap 195, Kenseth was involved once again but this time with Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller-Lite Ford, spun tapping the outside wall, after racing with Kenseth, causing little damage, to either car. Keselowski would drive back up to the top position after tangling with Kenseth, but the blue deuce would finish in 7th.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driving the #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet, had a loose wheel causing the #88 to fall back into traffic one lap down, on Lap 119. On Lap 202, in Turn 4, Earnhardt Jr. tapped the rear of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. causing the #17 EcoPower Oil Ford to spin resulting in yet another caution in 7 short laps. Earnhardt Jr. would recover slightly and finish in 9th.
Kurt Busch, driving the Haas Automation Chevrolet, went up into the wall in Turn 3, after the front right tire went down going into turn 3, raising the yellow flag with 80 laps remaining in Sunday’s race. Busch finished just ahead of Hamlin in 36th, 35 laps down.
Kenseth, would be in yet another incident on Lap 271, when Kenseth would spin while racing for 6th place in Turn 4, Paul Menard was under Kenseth, when the #27 Sylvania/Menards Chevrolet got loose turning up into Kenseth sending them both around into the outside wall. The final incident would place Kenseth in 21st at the end of the race.
In the final laps Jeff Gordon, driving the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet special paint scheme, would see trouble after being in the top-10 for most of the day, with 9 laps remaining after the right front tire went flat going into Turn 1, Gordon hit the safer barrier hard, he would remain on the lead lap but ran out of race to recover and finished in 26th position.
With one more race in the Challenger Round, the Chase drivers have one more race at Dover International before four drivers will be removed from the Chase contention. 12 drivers will then advance to the Contender Round, held at Kansas Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway, after Talladega four more drivers will be eliminated from the Chase. Eight drivers will move forward for the Eliminator Round, held at Martinsville Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway, and Phoenix International Raceway, after Phoenix four drivers will be removed leaving four drivers to contend for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the finale where one driver will be crowned champion.