|Kasey Kahne celebrates with a burnout after winning the LENOX Industrial Tools 301|
at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Credit: Jeff Zelevnaksy/Getty Images
|Kahne poses with his "trophy".|
Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images
After leading 66 laps, Kahne crossed the finish line first and moves up to 12th in points. He is now in the first position for the Wild Card Chase; he now has more victories than the other drivers outside of the top ten. The 12 Chase drivers will be determined in Richmond this September.
The Lenox 301 kicked off on Sunday with a bang. Polesitter Kyle Busch held his No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota in the lead for the first 66 laps. He lost track position when he was penalized for speeding on pit road - costing him a shot at the win. He finished in 16th position.
Denny Hamlin led a total of 150 laps but Jeff Burton still holds the record of 300 laps led at Loudon. Hamlin lost the lead after a round of pit stops, he wanted two tires, but crew chief Darian Grubb misunderstood, giving him four. The call was costly, but Hamlin was able to work his way back up through the field to finish in second. "It's part of racing, that's why it's such a team sport," Hamlin said after the race.
"Proud of our team. We missed three points, that's about it." Hamlin explained that the miscommunication happened "because of the distance." He further stated, "When the caution flies, when pit road opens, that time is so small, your time to communicate, figure out what you're going to do, you really have about 45 seconds to get it. Between all that, what happened was, is Darian asked me, he said how much of the tires he felt I used up. I said I felt like I used them up a substantial amount. I'd been on the lefts for quite a few laps," Hamlin explained. "So my information to him was yeah, I've used up the tires. He said, 'I think two's the call.' I said, 'Okay just give me tires and no adjustments.' He took that as I meant four tires. So it's just that small mis-communication just messed us up a little bit." This is Hamlin's ninth top10 in 17 races at NHMS, and his 10th top 10 in 2012.
Michael Waltrip Racing's Clint Bowyer finished in third, trying to battle for the win with Kahne and Hamlin. "It was a long, hard-fought battle for the team. We were just off from the start of the race, I was too loose, too tight in the middle," Bowyer explained. This is his fifth top-10 finish in 13 races in NH. His last victory here was in 2010, though he was penalized for illegal tolerances on the rear-end of the car.
The race slowed down for three cautions, a total of fifteen laps. Two cautions were for debris and the third was from oil on the track from David Reutimann's blown engine.
With just seven races left before NASCAR returns to NHMS, a lot can happen and we could see a very different Chase lineup than we expected.