Kyle Busch drove his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to victory for the second weekend in a row at New Hampshire Saturday night, continuing a streak of strong performances since returning from an 11-race absence due to injuries. The win was Busch’s third in eight starts since his return and gives him an even greater chance at being in this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup.
The Joe Gibbs Toyotas looked strong at Loudon from the weekend’s start, with Carl Edwards putting his No. 19 car on pole for the 301 mile race. When the green flag waved, Edwards and Busch solidified themselves as the class of the field, with Edwards holding his lead but eventually turning it over to his teammate. Ford’s Brad Keselowski then took top position following a restart 68 laps in, which was put out for debris on the track.
Team Chevy’s Dale Earnhardt Jr. moved into the lead on Lap 88 following a round of pit stops, but then pitted to turn the lead over to Jeff Gordon. A second caution for debris was brought out on Lap 98, then again on Lap 117, with a long green flag run starting again on Lap 122. By Lap 179, Keselowski had worked his way back out front and was eventually battling for the lead with Kevin Harvick on Lap 194.
Busch’s bid for the win started when his No. 18 car slid in a patch of oil, which fooled him into thinking he had a flat tire. As a result, he pitted earlier than the rest of the field on Lap 244, giving him fresh tires while the race’s top contenders were forced to deal with worn rubber. Busch then regained his spot on the lead lap with an impressive pass on leader Harvick and second-place’s Keselowski, later moving out front when the leaders pitted.
Busch stayed out front from Lap 253 until the checkered flag came out under caution following a Turn 2 wreck from Alex Bowman. Brad Keselowski shuffled in behind him in third, with Joey Logano and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounding out the top five.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Indianapolis next weekend for the Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at The Brickyard on July 26. For full results from the 5 Hours Energy 301 at New Hampshire, click here.