Rain delayed the start of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway by about three hours, but for the third time this season, a full race was able to be squeezed in while watching the approaching weather.
The only thing that might be able to derail Stewart-Haas Racing this season is the team itself, and even then, maybe not. Polesitter Kurt Busch and Aric Almirola both looked to be in a position to snag their first win of the season, but a pit-road miscue ended Busch’s bid. Meanwhile, Almirola’s chances went down in flames through teammate Clint Bowyer, whose suspension failed late, setting up the final dash for the checkered flag.
Kyle Busch took the lead following that restart and held it until Kevin Harvick bumped him out of the way with about five laps to go. The No. 4 parked in Victory Lane for the series-leading sixth time this season, and SHR’s eighth victory of 2018.
There were 10 lead changes among seven drivers.
Hendrick Motorsports had maybe the team’s best race this season. Alex Bowman and Elliott both qualified in the top 10, while Elliott won stage two Johnson scored bonus points in both stages and finished 10th, and all four cars finished in the top 15. For this season, that is a fantastic run and could potentially be seen as the awakening of the Camaro ZL1 and the longtime Chevrolet powerhouse.
Joe Gibbs Racing was really off on Sunday. All four cars qualified in the top nine, and Kyle Busch was second, but for much of the race, he was to be found somewhere around the back half of the top 10. Defending race winner Denny Hamlin was never really a factor, finishing 13th. Erik Jones was 16th after a month of four straight top 10s, including his first MENCS win. Daniel Suarez was a lap down in 22nd at a track where he’d never finished worse than eighth in a national series event.
Newman is really good at New Hampshire. His sixth-place finish was his 19th career top 10 at the track. He’s also posted seven poles, three wins and seven top fives in 33 starts in the Granite State. Unfortunately for the Richard Childress Racing veteran, NHMS only has one race on the schedule for the forseeable future. He has only five top 10s this season, and he’s 74 points out of playoff position with six regular-season races to go.
AJ Allmendinger has had a rough patch to drive through for about the last month, and it continued on Sunday, as his No. 47 Chevy clobbered the wall at lap 19, ending his day in next-to-last before the competition caution. Third at Daytona was excellent, but the two weeks before that his results were 38th and 24th. In the two races following he’s finished 30th and 36th.
Author’s note: Last week Hot/Not incorrectly stated that JTG-Daugherty Racing was still affiliated with Childress; it’s part of a Hendrick alliance this season, though they are still powered by Earnhardt Childress Racing engines.
Ross Chastain has driven in 18 MENCS races this season in Premium Motorsports’ No. 15 Chevy, and finished inside the top 30 on 15 of those occasions, with a season-best finish of 18th at Texas Motor Speedway. For the underdog side of the garage, those results are terrific. The No. 15 is currently 32nd in the owner standings out of 46 teams. Chastain is running the No. 4 Chevy full-time in the XFINITY Series for JD Motorsports, and he’s currently clinging to the 12th and final playoff position with eight regular-season races to go.
Brad Keselowski‘s brakes failed this week, leaving the 2012 champ eight laps down in 32nd. It was his fifth sub-30th result in the 20 races so far of 2018 and the second time in the past three weeks that trouble hit the No. 2 team. He still has 11 top 10s and is ranked second among winless drivers, and he’s locked into the playoffs, but it wasn’t the result that the Team Penske driver would’ve hoped for.
Paint Scheme of the Week
Furniture Row Racing will be losing 5-Hour Energy as a sponsor after this season, so since it was the dominant sponsor on Truex’s No. 78 this weekend, it might as well be this week’s featured scheme. I’m not sure what’s in the product, but it helped write many essays during college, though it should only be used in emergencies – the jitters are scary. Anyway, the red, yellow and black always looked fairly good on any of the cars it appeared on, though without the traditional FRR orange numbers it looks a bit odd.
The MENCS and Camping World Truck series return to Pocono Raceway this weekend for a pair of races sponsored by Gander Outdoors, while the XFINITY Series has a standalone second race at Iowa Speedway.
Truex won the Pocono race last month, and he should be in contention along with the usual suspects: SHR, Penske, Kyle Busch and Larson.
Truck fans probably won’t get as thrilling a finish as last week’s fender-banging drag race between teammates Chase Briscoe and Grant Enfinger at Eldora, but a ThorSport truck will probably again find the checkered flag.
In the XFINITY race, Cole Custer will battle a Chevrolet driver for the win.
The Gander Outdoors 400 will be Sunday, July 29 at 2:30 p.m. ET, with TV coverage on NBCSN.
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