Late Caution Flags Scramble the Finish at New Hampshire


For most of the race the question was, would Martin Truex Jr. post his second win of the Chase or would Matt Kenseth hold him offand secure his place in the round of 12. With 16 laps to go Trevor Bayne backed his Ford Fusion into the wall and brought out the caution flag. Most drivers in the top 10 did not pit opting to stay on the track and maintain their positions; this also meant having to finish on worn tires while the rest of the field came in for fresh rubber. When the race restarted with 11 laps to go, Truex Jr. and Kenseth were able to maintain their lead. Another caution lap later brought more scrambling of positions behind the first two drivers who again stayed out. The restart with just six laps till the finish shuffled Truex Jr. back into the pack, Kevin Harvick made a move for the lead and with his fresh tires quickly passed Kenseth to take the lead. Despite having a dominate car all afternoon, Kenseth was unable to retake the lead and finished second behind the number 4 car of Harvick, who automatically advances to the round of 12 with the win.The Fords of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano finished 4th and 10th respectively. With just one race remaining before cutting four drivers out of the playoff field of 16, both Team Penske driver’s chances look good to move forward into the next round. The Ford of Chris Buescher will have to pull out another win next week like he did at Pocono in order to advance as he sits last in the chase standings, 30 points out of the final 12 qualifying spots. Also on the chopping block are Tony Stewart 11 points back, Austin Dillon 5 points behind, and Jamie McMurray also 5 points behind Kyle Larson who currently holds down the 12th position. Ninth through eleventh are Chase Elliott (+16), Carl Edwards (+16), and Kurt Bush (+15) who should all advance with a top 20 finish next week at Dover.However, the Monster Mile is known for reaching out and grabbing cars off the track. A bad finish for any of the Chase’s second tier drivers could easily jumble the standings and a strong finish from McMurray, Dillon, or Stewart could allow them to claw their way into the round of 12. In addition, “the win and you’re in” provision makes it possible for anyone to advance like Truex Jr. and Harvick, which driver will let it all hang out in an effort to make that happen?