Kurt Busch out-powered the No. 24 Chevy of Jeff Gordon to earn the victory at New Hampshire International Speedway. It is Busch's second win of the season and 10th of this career. "It's great to race here in New England," said Busch in victory...
Kurt Busch out-powered the No. 24 Chevy of Jeff Gordon to earn the victory at New Hampshire International Speedway. It is Busch's second win of the season and 10th of this career.
"It's great to race here in New England," said Busch in victory lane. "It feels great to get this car in victory lane. It all starts when we come back here in September. All the fans should get excited and geared up for that because it's gonna be just that. I thought we had to apply pressure this week and start our ten-race to go now even though there are still many races left.
"We've got our work cut out for us."
Jeff Gordon tried to catch the back bumper of Busch on restarts at lap 276 and lap 297, but the No. 24 just didn't seem to have the horsepower to keep bumper-to-nose with Busch.
"It was great to be able to challenge him (Gordon),"commented Busch, who started 32nd in Sunday's event. "He's been so good lately it seems that if you want to win a race you have to beat Jeff Gordon."
Gordon finished second.
"It was a great day for us," commented Gordon. "I tell you what, when they dropped the green flag I thought we had something for 'em. We just got loose in and really couldn't get on top of it all day.
"But I'll tell you a second place finish makes me really proud of the DuPont Chevrolet team.we were able to get up there and battle with those guys. I don't know if we were a second-place car, but we had a real good car on the restarts. I thought I could get up beside Kurt (Busch), but we had the No. 12 (Ryan Newman) behind us and everything. I would have had to give him a pretty big nudge to get him out of the way for that win."
Pole sitter Ryan Newman seemed as if he would go flag-to-flag for the win, leading every lap virtually unchallenged up until lap 171, when Kurt Busch piloting the No. 97 Ford motored around Newman taking the lead. Gordon also managed to get past the No. 12 Dodge. Newman wound up third.
"I think it was strong the whole time," said Newman of his car. "It's just the 97 and the 24 got better than us. I got loose and washed up the race track and they both got by me. Track position is very important here. I am not sure if I was in the lead if I could have held them off at the end."
Reigning Cup series champion Matt Kenseth was fourth and Tony Stewart fifth.
"We kept working on it all day," Stewart said. "We got tight in the center of the race. We had a good run with Matt (Kenseth). It's nice not to be able to say we are one of the only cars that don't have a scratch on it."
An injured Dale Earnhardt, Jr. exited the No. 8 DEI Chevy at lap 62, and relief driver Martin Truex, Jr. took over driving duties. The swap happened seamlessly, keeping the Budweiser Chevy on the lead lap. At lap 139, however, a flat left front tire sent Truex backwards into the wall causing moderate right corner damage on the No. 8 car.
Truex ended up having to make five pit stops to fix the damage, and finished 3116. Because NASCAR rules allow the starting driver to retain driver points even if a substitute racer completes the race, Earnhardt did not loose any championship points by exiting the car mid-race. He continues to be second in NEXTEL Cup series points.
Jimmie Johnson still leads series rankings by 165-points over Earnhardt. Jeff Gordon (-202), Tony Stewart (-302) and Matt Kenseth (-369) complete the top five. Busch's win propels him forward three spots into sixth.
There were 12 cautions for 62 laps and four lead changes among three drivers.