Matt Kenseth dominated the second half of the race to win the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Sunday. It's Kenseth's second consecutive win and the seventh of his 2013 season. Kenseth beat second place driver Kyle Busch by just two car lengths as Busch almost caught the 2003 champion at the end but ran out of laps. It's Kenseth's 31st career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory and he became just the second driver to win in his 500th start. For Kenseth it's a dream come true.
"This is probably one of my worst places and that just shows you how strong this team is," Kenseth said in victory lane. "I feel like I am the luckiest guy in the world."
Kenseth beat his teammate Kyle Busch for the second straight weekend. Busch commented on the battle with Kenseth.
"The 20 had a lot more than us all weekend," Busch said. "Not really sure why that was."
Finishing in the third position was Greg Biffle with Jimmie Johnson coming home fourth and Jamie McMurray finishing fifth. Dale Earnhardt Jr finished in the sixth position with Brian Vickers coming home seventh, Jeff Burton eighth, Carl Edwards ninth and Martin Truex Jr finished in the tenth position.
It was Ryan Newman and Kasey Kahne on the front row to take the field to green to start the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Newman led real early in the event. He would lose the lead to Kahne just three laps into the event and Kahne took off. Jeff Gordon showed his strength early and took the second position. Kahne continued to lead over Gordon when the first caution came out. Josh Wise spun after contact from Michael McDowell. He would not hit anything and would continue. Wise finished 32nd.
All leaders pitted with different strategies all over the map. Jeff Gordon made contact with David Ragan exiting his pit which cost him some positions. Martin Truex Jr found himself in the lead with Kasey Kahne alongside for the lap 36 restart. During the restart teammates Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray got together causing McMurray to slam the outside wall and bring out the races' second caution. Kevin Swindell, who was making his Sprint Cup Series debut in the Swan Racing #30 Toyota was collected in the accident and had significant damage on the nose of his car. McMurray would have minor damage and continued. Swindell wasn't as fortunate and had to spend several laps behind the wall for repairs. He finished 38th.
On the lap 47 restart Truex and Kahne were alongside one another again and and Truex began to pull away from the field. He led until lap 52 when Bobby Labonte blew a left rear tire and hit the wall. David Gilliland would be collected in the accident and both cars had significant damage. Gilliland was able to make repairs and only lose one lap, but Labonte spent several laps behind the wall making repairs. Labonte finished 40th.
Truex and Kahne led the field to the green again on the lap 60 restart and began to pull away from the field. Truex was leading during lap 100 and his lead was about three seconds. On lap 106 Matt Kenseth began to show his strength and moved to the second position passing Kasey Kahne. Green flag pit stops began on lap 109 and Dale Earnhardt Jr led by lap 125. Earnhardt was on a different pit sequence than the field and could pit later then the rest of the field. His lead was over six seconds on lap 127.
Earnhardt would pit on lap 130, relinquishing the lead to Truex again with Kenseth a spot behind. By the time the half way point of the race came Truex's lead was just under a half second over Kenseth. On lap 153 Kenseth passed Truex for the lead and began to pull away from the field. On lap 163 the races' fourth caution flag flew for debris on the backstretch.
The leaders would pit and the top five cars would take just two tires. Jeff Gordon and Brian Vickers were in the front of the field for the lap 170 restart. Gordon had about a half second lead over teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr and was leading when debris caused the races' fifth yellow flag to fly on lap 201. Gordon led the field down to the pits but overshot his pit stall and it cost the team significant time. Gordon was forced to restart in the 22nd position losing track position, which is extremely important at New Hampshire.
Two cars elected to stay out and not pit under the caution and they led the field to green on lap 205. Those two cars were Clint Bowyer and Marcos Ambrose. Ambrose immediately dropped back on the restart and Bowyer led for the first two laps. He would lose the lead to Matt Kenseth and Kenseth began to pull away from the field. Bowyer would drop back and lose second to Jimmie Johnson who tried to chase down Kenseth. Kenseth had a 1.6 second lead over Johnson when on lap 245 the races' fifth caution flag flew when David Gilliland blew up on the front stretch. Gilliland had problems that came from an earlier accident and Gilliland was out. He finished 39th.
The leaders would pit for the final time and Kenseth was still the leader with Truex alongside for the lap 250 restart. Truex spun his tires on the restart, allowing Kenseth to pull away fast. On lap 252 Kasey Kahne spun and crashed on the front straightaway causing the races' sixth caution flag. Kahne would lose 22 laps behind the wall and finish 37th. Jimmie Johnson was able to get to the second position and would restart there for the lap 257 restart. On lap 261 Brad Keselowski was running sixth and went for a slide up the track, dropping him to the 18th position.
On lap 275 Matt Kenseth was still the leader over new second place driver Kyle Busch. Busch began to chop down Kenseth's lead and by lap 287 of the 300 lap event, Kenseth's lead was one second. Busch would chop the lead to a half of a second by lap 295 and closed to within a few car lengths before Kenseth took the checkered flag.
Other notables in the field included Brad Keselowski in 11th, Denny Hamlin in 12th, Kurt Busch in 13th and Joey Logano in 14th. Jeff Gordon finished 15th, Ryan Newman 16th and Clint Bowyer 17th. Kevin Harvick finished 20th and Mark Martin finished 23rd.
Matt Kenseth stretched his points lead to 14 points over teammate Kyle Busch. Third in the points is Jimmie Johnson who is 18 points behind. Carl Edwards is fourth 36 points behind and sitting 38 points behind in fifth is Greg Biffle. Kevin Harvick is 39 points behind in sixth and sitting seventh in the standings 40 points back is Kurt Busch. Eighth in the point standings is Jeff Gordon who is 42 points behind the leader and Ryan Newman is ninth in the standings 47 points behind the leader. Sitting tenth in the standings 48 points behind is Clint Bowyer. Dale Earnhardt Jr is 11th in the standings 62 points back and Joey Logano is 12th 69 points points behind. Kasey Kahne is 13th in the standings 71 points behind Kenseth.
The next race on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule is the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on September 29th.
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