Posted by: Sandy Terronez, follow on Twitter @sandyterronez
September 23, 2017
The NASCAR playoffs head to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the second race in the first round. Each week, Motor Racing Digest writers will follow four drivers each during their playoff pursuit of a NASCAR championship. Here is a weekend preview for Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon and Kasey Kahne
Kyle Busch – Busch comes into New Hampshire Motor Speedway fifth in points in the NASCAR Chase in his No.18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry.
Busch has two wins, nine top-five and thirteen top-ten finishes at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. His average finish is 13.680.
Busch will be starting on the pole for the second week in a row in his M&M’s Caramel Toyota Camry on Sunday and when asked what the secret was to today’s pole Busch stated “Same as it is every other time – you’ve got to have a fast car, so, you know, certainly feels pretty good to capitalize on another good Friday and we just need to somehow figure out how to turns these things into good Sundays, you know? Being able to start up front, it’d be nice to stay up front all day and limit our mistakes and not have any of those and be able to carry on and go to victory lane on Sunday. So this is a good place for us and the weather is going to warmer – more like a July race – and we run better here in July than we typically do in September, so hopefully that will bode a little bit for us in the 18 car this weekend.”
When asked if he was doing anything different in qualifying this year that has led to more success he stated “I mean every week is different, so you always try to capitalize on your strategies through the rounds, you know? Some rounds have worked out better for us than others. When we were here in the spring, we made some mistakes actually in qualifying – we didn’t qualify very well – and so we went the opposite way today and it seemed to work, you know? So definitely things have kind of just bode well for us and gone our ways on Friday and it shows that we can do it, we can have the speed and we can do what we need to do to be first one of the days. We just need to be able to do it on Sunday.”
Chase Elliott – Elliott comes into New Hampshire Motor Speedway eighth in points in the NASCAR Chase in his No.24 Hendrick Motorsport Chevrolet SS.
Elliott’s average finish is 19.33 with 19th place being his best finish.
Elliott will be starting 14th in his No. 24 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet.
Elliott was involved in an accident during the first practice session at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and had to go to a backup car. When asked what happened he stated “I don’t know just got kind of loose into Turn 3 and got up the track and ran out of room. I hate it. That is not what we needed we are behind this weekend now, so that is never good, but it’s Friday, so we’ve got another day and a half to get things turned around and try to get it fixed.”
Elliott also has a new crew chief after Alan Gustafason was suspended last week after the Chicagoland Speedway race. When asked about working with his new crew chief Kenny Francis he stated “It’s been fine. I’ve worked with Kenny before, so nothing, no surprises he is a good guy and does a good job. I hate to put everybody in this situation this weekend. That is never good, but we will go to work.”
Elliott also stated about his backup car “It was okay, I thought that really for everything that happened it could have been a lot worse. I mean when you are in that position we are out of race cars, so, you don’t want to do anything stupid and wreck another one. So, that was the big thing.”
Austin Dillon – Dillon comes into New Hampshire Motor Speedway twelfth in points in the NASCAR Chase in his No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet SS.
Dillon has one top-ten finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and his average finish is 14.143.
Dillon will be starting 17th in his No. 3 Chevrolet Accessories Chevrolet.
When asked about New Hampshire Motor Speedway Dillon stated “Yeah, New Hampshire is oddly shaped, but it’s one of the tracks I have more laps on than any track probably, because I grew up in the East Series and we raced there twice a year running bias-ply tires sliding around on that place. Experience wise, it is one of our best tracks to go to for me. I enjoy it. There is not a track in this first round that I don’t like. As far as the use of VHT, I thought it was pretty good in the spring. I don’t know where we finished that first race at New Hampshire this year. I thought it was a pretty solid run though. I remember being in contention at certain points in the race. I thought that stuff wore out and the track got cleaned back off by the end of it, but it definitely put something in there during practice and the first half of the race that you had to work around.”
On qualifying Dillon stated “We struggled qualifying here earlier this year and that was about a 12, 13 positions pick up for us. We worked hard on it today and kind of through the week and I’m happy with it, but there is always a little bit more, I feel like we need. So, going into the race, I will just fight hard. This is a place I feel like I race pretty well at and I don’t qualify very well at. So, I’m starting better than we did earlier this year.”
Kasey Kahne – Kahne comes into New Hampshire Motor Speedway fifteenth in points in the NASCAR Chase in his No.5 Rick Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet SS.
Kahne has one win, three top-fives and four top-ten finishes at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and his average finish is 17.01.
Kahne will be starting ninth in his No. 5 Road to Race Chevrolet.
Kahne talked about winning at New Hampshire Motor Speedway “New Hampshire is a tough track and it’s unique because it’s a flat track. You need a car that handles well, obviously. Qualifying well is helpful and strategy is a big deal because track position is so important there. I remember when I won there — (then-No. 5 team crew chief) Kenny Francis made the right call to get us a restart position on the front row towards the end of the race and I was able to take the lead. We had a strong car that day and the perfect strategy and won the race.”
When asked about practice and qualifying at New Hampshire Kahne stated “Yeah, it was really nice. The car was balanced really well the entire day. We made gains every time out and that final run I was just a tick tight and then gave up about a tenth that I thought I could run better. I gave up about a tenth, which I thought we could have been top five and that would have been pretty cool, but still a really solid Friday.”
Kyle Busch takes the Monster Energy NASCAR field to the green flag on Sunday, September 24, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. ET for the ISM Connect 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. TV coverage will be on NBCSN. Radio coverage will be on PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.