NASCAR Update: Post New Hampshire

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New Hampshire MotorSpeedway, Loudon, NH — August 4, 2020

By most accounts, Aric Almirola has had a great year in the NASCAR Cup Series. Five top-five finishes, 11 top-10’s, 8th in points, and a comfortable 134 buffer above the cut line for the playoffs. He has done everything but win a race. Almirola is trying to become the 3rd member of Stewart-Haas Racing to secure a playoff spot (Harvick & Custer in) he started from the pole at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301.

Denny Hamlin, who has already won five times this year, started beside Almirola on the front row. Hamlin owns three wins at the New England track and was a favorite to pick up a 4th victory there.

Three drivers were sent to the rear of the field, Bubba Wallace and Corey LaJoie because of improperly mounted ballast that was discovered during pre-race inspection. Austin Dillon because of unapproved adjustments.

Stage 1 Sets Tone for the Race

Almirola took the lead on the start but it did not last long. Brad Keselowski drove from 5th place to the lead. Keselowski, Hamlin, and Ryan Blaney staged an entertaining battle for the lead throughout the 1st Stage.

Kyle Busch’s troubles in 2020 continued, 15 laps in Busch blew a right-front tire, hit the wall, and retired to the garage out of the race.

Keselowski Wins New Hampshire, 11th Ford Mustang Victory in 2020

Ultimately the battle narrowed down to Keselowski versus Hamlin, with Brad getting his 3rd win of the year and 6th win for Team Penske. He also got the Giant Lobster. Keselowski’s victory was the 11th win this year for Ford Performance in 22 events. With the doubleheader at Michigan International Speedway, this weekend brand dominance will get a lot of attention.

Playoff Points

With 6 races left before the playoffs, the standings are providing a clearer picture of where drivers stand in the quest for the 16 playoff spots. The Top-10 drivers are locked in with wins, Aric Almirola and the Busch brothers are looking good on points. Despite Kyle’s last-place finish earning just a single point at New Hampshire, he sits 13th 94 points above the cut line. Clint Bowyer +43 and Matt DiBenedetto +40 have a little breathing room.

William Byron sits on the bubble with a slim 15 point lead over Tyler Reddick. Jimmie Johnson is 25 back and Erik Jones trails by 31. For anyone else to crack the top 16 it will take a win in the remaining 6 races to qualify. Should that happen it will make it very difficult for those four to find a spot on points.

Michigan’s doubleheader Saturday and Sunday will further clarify the standings.

Rank Driver Points Wins Status
1 Denny Hamlin 688 5 In-Win
2 Kevin Harvick 803* 4 In-Win
3 Brad Keselowski 722* 3 In-Win
4 Joey Logano 653* 2 In-Win
5 Ryan Blaney 685* 1 In-Win
6 Chase Elliott 660 1 In-Win
7 Martin Truex Jr. 648 1 In-Win
8 Alex Bowman 561 1 In-Win
9 Austin Dillon 466 1 In-Win
10 Cole Custer 381* 1 In-Win
11 Aric Almirola 614* 0 +145
12 Kurt Busch 581 0 +112
13 Kyle Busch 563 0 +94
14 Clint Bowyer 512* 0 +43
15 Matt DiBenedetto 509* 0 +40
16 William Byron 484 0 +15
Playoff Cut Line
17 Tyler Reddick 469 0 -15
18 Jimmie Johnson 459 0 -25
19 Erik Jones 453 0 -31
20 Bubba Wallace 366 0 -118

*Ford Mustang Drivers

Michigan International Speedway’s Race Weekend

Sorry, it is still racing with no fans at Michigan International Speedway. Because the pandemic caused the postponement of the June race weekend. The NASCAR Cup Series FireKeepers Casino 400 will be held on Saturday, August 8 at 4:00 pm (NBCSN), while the Consumers Energy 400 will take place the following day at 4:30 pm (NBCSN).

The top-finishing OEM from the weekend Cup Series events will be presented with the Michigan Heritage Trophy, which has been awarded by MIS since 2013. The distance for each race will be 312 miles.

The Michigan Heritage Trophy

“The Michigan Heritage Trophy is one of the more unique and coveted prizes in NASCAR,” said Michigan International Speedway President Rick Brenner. “The competitive spirit at any race, especially at MIS, isn’t just confined to the drivers, and this trophy allows the winning manufacturer to boast about their accomplishment. We are thrilled that the race teams have joined us this year in recognizing the prominence of this trophy to our sport and in the state of Michigan, and look forward to an amazing doubleheader of racing in the Cup Series this weekend.”

In an interview today with  Mark Rushbrook, global director, Ford Performance Motorsports we asked if “Having two race dates at MIS was important to Ford Motor Company?” His response gave an indication of what we might expect for the future at our local track. “Two races, yes… Two dates, we are open to doubleheaders like we are having this weekend, they have been successful at other tracks, so we would be open to having discussions about that.”

The Lasco Press will be at MIS for live coverage of Friday’s truck race and Sunday’s Cup race. Stay Tuned!

Bubba Wallace Offered Ownership Percentage of Richard Petty Motorsports

In the final year of his contract with Richard Petty Motorsports, Bubba Wallace has been offered a percentage of team ownership if he commits to a long term contract with the team. Team owner Andrew Murstein confirmed that was the state of current contract negotiations. Chip Ganassi Racing had been rumored to have interest in Wallace as NASCAR’s Silly Season rolls on.

Results of the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 from New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Position Car Driver Behind Laps
1 2 Brad Keselowski 301
2 11 Denny Hamlin 1.647 301
3 19 Martin Truex Jr. 6.075 301
4 22 Joey Logano 10.322 301
5 4 Kevin Harvick 10.541 301
6 21 Matt DiBenedetto 11.778 301
7 10 Aric Almirola 13.528 301
8 41 Cole Custer 16.851 301
9 9 Chase Elliott 18.375 301
10 8 Tyler Reddick 20.211 301
11 24 William Byron 20.777 301
12 48 Jimmie Johnson 20.894 301
13 3 Austin Dillon 21.458 301
14 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 23.137 301
15 88 Alex Bowman 24.416 301
16 37 Ryan Preece 24.727 301
17 1 Kurt Busch 29.421 301
18 14 Clint Bowyer 31.185 301
19 34 Michael McDowell 31.309 301
20 12 Ryan Blaney 31.443 301
21 6 Ryan Newman -1 300
22 13 Ty Dillon -1 300
23 43 Bubba Wallace -1 300
24 20 Erik Jones -1 300
25 17 Chris Buescher -1 300
26 96 Daniel Suarez -2 299
27 15 Brennan Poole -2 299
28 95 Christopher Bell -2 299
29 27 JJ Yeley -2 299
30 53 James Davison -3 298
31 77 Garrett Smithley -6 295
32 0 Quin Houff -7 294
33 66 Timmy Hill -7 294
34 51 Joey Gase -8 293
35 32 Corey LaJoie -39 262
36 38 John Hunter Nemechek -89 212
37 42 Matt Kenseth -98 203
38 18 Kyle Busch -286 15