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Kyle Busch Moves Closer to Chase Berth with 5 Hour Energy 301 Win

Kyle Busch Moves Closer to Chase Berth with 5 Hour Energy 301 Win

by July 20, 2015 0 comments

LOUDON, N.H. — Kyle Busch’s march to a potential Chase berth charged forward at full speed as Busch claimed his third victory in his eighth start of the season in Sunday’s 5 Hour Energy 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Leading 96 laps en route to his second career victory at New Hampshire, Busch clawed his way towards the top-30 in the standings with his win and now sits 58 points out of a Chase position. Entering Sunday’s race, Busch sat 87 markers outside of a transfer spot.

“This is pretty special,” Busch said. “This is something that I’m not sure we ever would have expected, you know, Adam [Stevens, crew chief], myself, Joe [Gibbs, owner], the team, anybody, the organization for that matter. It certainly is nice. It certainly has been a perfect storm, if you will, you know, to come back, to get back into fast racecars… That’s what has meant the most. To have that opportunity, I thank Joe, J.D. [Gibbs], everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing for that.

“Today we may not have been the best car, we were early, but towards the end I’m not sure that we were. We put ourselves in the right spot to be able to capitalize.  Sometimes in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series you got to be able to do that. Today was one of those opportunities for us.”

Busch and his No. 18 Interstate Batteries crew utilized their own unique brand of pit strategy to not only unlap themselves during the middle stages of the race – but to also put them in a position to grab the lead.

Grab the lead is just what they did as during a caution on Lap 253, Busch seized the lead from eventual third-place finisher Kevin Harvick and held on to it for the remainder of the race.

“I was hoping for a caution because everybody couldn’t make it on fuel, we could, we knew they had to come down pit road,” Stevens said regarding his team’s strategy. “We got the caution, which was pretty sweet. We only had five laps on our tires.  Obviously there was no benefit to us pitting.

“A bunch of guys took two with 50 or 60 laps on their tires.  Even if they had a better car, it would have been really hard for them to get around us with that many laps on their lefts.”

Rounding out the top-10 of the race standings were Brad Keselowski, Harvick, Joey Logano, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Austin Dillon, Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch.

Heading into next Sunday’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Harvick remains atop the points standings, 69 points ahead of Logano.

Top-10 Finishers of the 5 Hour Energy 301

  1. 18 – Kyle Busch – Toyota – Joe Gibbs Racing
  2. 2 – Brad Keselowski – Ford – Team Penske
  3. 4 – Kevin Harvick – Chevrolet – Stewart-Haas Racing
  4. 22 – Joey Logano – Ford – Team Penske
  5. 88 – Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Chevrolet – Hendrick Motorsports
  6. 20 – Matt Kenseth – Toyota – Joe Gibbs Racing
  7. 19 – Carl Edwards – Toyota – Joe Gibbs Racing
  8. 3 – Austin Dillon – Chevrolet – Richard Childress Racing
  9. 24 – Jeff Gordon – Chevrolet – Hendrick Motorsports
  10. 41 – Kurt Busch – Chevrolet – Stewart-Haas Racing

Top-10 in the Drivers Standings after Round 19 of 36

  1. 4 – Kevin Harvick – Stewart-Haas Racing – 734 | Leader
  2. 22 – Joey Logano – Team Penske – 665 | -69
  3. 88 – Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Hendrick Motorsports – 655 | -79
  4. 48 – Jimmie Johnson – Hendrick Motorsports – 646 | -88
  5. 78 – Martin Truex Jr. – Furniture Row Racing – 628 | -106
  6. 2 – Brad Keselowski – Team Penske – 603 | -131
  7. 20 – Matt Kenseth – Joe Gibbs Racing – 578 | -156
  8. 41 – Kurt Busch – Stewart-Haas Racing – 576 | -158
  9. 1 – Jamie McMurray – Chip Ganassi Racing – 574 | -160
  10. 24 – Jeff Gordon – Hendrick Motorsports – 573 | -161

Chase Seeding after 5 Hour Energy 301: 1. Jimmie Johnson, 2. Kevin Harvick, 3. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 4. Kurt Busch, 5. Joey Logano, 6. Martin Truex Jr., 7. Brad Keselowski, 8. Matt Kenseth, 9. Denny Hamlin, 10. Carl Edwards, 11. Jamie McMurray, 12. Jeff Gordon, 13. Kasey Kahne, 14. Ryan Newman, 15. Paul Menard, 16. Aric Almirola

FOLLOW KYLE on TWITTER: @KPokrefky

PHOTO CREDIT: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images

Kyle Pokrefky
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky

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