Joey Logano managed to stay out of trouble to win the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Sunday, when many of the other Chase contenders fell victim to car trouble or crashes in a race that had a season-high 14 caution flags.
Caution periods made up 63 of the 303 laps after wrecks and mechanical trouble plagued much of the field. Logano had consistent restarts, which allowed him to make his way through the top ten after qualifying seventh. He led 30 of the final laps, with Team Chevy’s Kyle Larson in tow in his No. 42 Chevrolet SS, followed by Kevin Harvick, who led 104 laps early on in the race.
The rest of the top five included Jamie McMurray, who was involved in multiple incidents throughout the race and Jimmie Johnson. Aric Almirola, who earned his first career win this year at the Coke Zero 400, kept his spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup alive by finishing sixth. Brad Keselowski, leader of 73 laps, came in behind Almirola in seventh. Keselowski was one of the fastest cars on the grid early on in the race, but a spin saw him fall out of position.
Many Chase drivers finished outside the top ten due to the wreck-fest at New Hampshire, including Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch. For the next race at Dover International Speedway, the bottom four of the 16 drivers currently in the Chase for the Sprint Cup will be eliminated, which ought to make the closing laps of that race a bit of a nail-biter.
The wrecks at New Hampshire could be tacked up to the intensity among Sprint Cup contenders being turned up already. The first crash involving a Chase driver Saturday was on lap 181, when Denny Hamlin got caught up in a multicar wreck. Hamlin had led 32 laps of the race, but fell out of position after experiencing engine trouble to finish 37th.
Team Chevy’s Jeff Gordon also had car trouble. He had been racing his way through the top ten when his right front tire cut with only nine-laps to go. Kurt Busch, also in Chase contention, cut a tire as well which sent him spinning into the wall. His car was eventually repaired and Busch went on to finish one place ahead of Hamlin in 36th.
Only 12 points separate Matt Kenseth in eighth and Almirola in 16th. All drivers will be on full attack mode due to the sudden death-like finish the AAA 400 at Dover will bring on September 28. Set your PVRs.