Posted By: David Morgan – Follow at @damorgan86
September 27, 2016
Another week into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and my team of drivers (Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., and Joey Logano) continues to impress with finishes near the front and rebounding when the unexpected happens.
After scoring the worst finish of the team last weekend at Chicago, Busch rebounded with the best finish on Sunday afternoon at New Hampshire. Busch started the day in 13th and maintained his position in the top-15 for most of the race, but a pit road miscue with 60 laps remaining nearly sunk Busch’s day.
While on pit road, one of his tires bounced into the jack, causing the car to fall before service was complete. The issue on pit road dropped Busch to 16th, but the team was still positive that they could pull out a solid finish. Contact with the No. 88 car of Alex Bowman caused some damage to the grille and caused his water temperature to rise to dangerous levels. Luckily, Busch was able to get into clean air to minimize the effect the high temperatures would have on his engine.
Busch methodically made his way toward the front of the field as the laps wound down and was able to bring home a finish of fifth place when the checkered flag flew.
“We had everything thrown at us, even the kitchen sink at one point. I feel like the way that this team and everybody felt like we needed to have a solid finish, but you just can’t ask for it. It felt like we were up against the odds and then the car ran great. Really proud of the overnight adjustments and what we did better this time around than when we raced here last time was restarts. I think that showed that Stewart-Haas racing, we went to work on that, Kevin (Harvick) got the win today, real happy for him and we got a great top five with the Monster Energy Chevy,” said Busch.
Heading to Dover, Busch sits 11th in points with a 15 point gap over the Round of 12 cutoff.
The second member of the team, Truex, is already locked into the Round of 12 courtesy of his win at Chicago, so New Hampshire was all about bragging rights and redemption for the No. 78 team.
Last time at New Hampshire, Truex looked like he had the win in the bag before a broken shifter ended his chances for the win. This time around, Truex picked right up where he left off earlier this season, starting second and taking over the lead for the first time at lap 31 and looking like he was going to be the man to beat, leading 141 of the first 178 laps of the race.
Tire wear and a handful of late restarts were Truex’s undoing as he lost the lead to his defacto teammate, Matt Kenseth just past halfway and eventually fell back to seventh place by the time the race was complete.
“Final restart was not good for us – final two really weren’t. You know, we’d raced with Matt (Kenseth) so hard for the lead there for such a long time that I just kind of burned my tires up and then really had trouble getting going on those last two restarts, lost a few spots. It was unfortunate to have a car that good all day long and then come home seventh, but all in all it was a fun day. We led a lot of laps and the team did a great job all weekend, so it was another good weekend for us and we’ll go on to Dover and see if we can’t finish the deal off there,” said Truex.
As for the third member of the team (Logano), to say he had a rough outing at New Hampshire would be an understatement. Logano started 15th and struggled from the drop of the green flag, falling a lap down at one point in the race. While a lap down, Logano continuously missed out on his chance to get the Lucky Dog to get his lap back until a caution on lap 263 fell as Logano was in the free pass position.
From that point on, Logano made his way from the tail end of the lead lap in 19th to 11th when the race was over, salvaging a decent finish on an otherwise tough day.
“It was a hard fight to say the least with the Shell/Pennzoil Ford. We took off awful, just like we did in the spring race too, it’s crazy. We went down a lap and fought all day and then finally got the lucky dog but not with many laps to make it up. We made our car better, but didn’t have enough time to get ourselves back up to where I thought we were speed-wise at the end. I’m proud of the never-quit-attitude. We’re resilient. We just need to start a little bit faster. We can’t lose that many spots at the beginning of the race and expect to battle back every time. We did what we had to do. We almost got a top 10 out of something that we ran around 20th all day, so at least we got something out of it. We just need to go faster than that,” said Logano.
After New Hampshire, Logano sits fifth in points with a 21 point advantage on 13th place as the Monster Mile looms large on the horizon for the Chase contenders.