LOUDON, N.H. – A last-lap crash on the backstretch swept up first-half dominator Martin Truex Jr. and allowed Kyle Busch to steal the second stage of Sunday’s ISM Connect 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Truex was coming around to the green-checkered flag when Kevin Harvick spun on the backstretch after contact with Austin Dillon, kicking up a blinding cloud of smoke that made vision impossible as cars tried to shoot the gap and get through unscathed.
Harvick’s teammate Kurt Busch plowed into the side of the No. 4 Ford before Truex was tagged around by the No. 33 of Jeffrey Earnhardt in the ensuing accordion and aftermath.
Truex then received front and rear quarter panel damage as he and Dale Earnhardt Jr. tried to get righted and continue onward, with a red flag ultimately coming out on lap 151 due to the track being virtually blocked.
All the while, Kyle Busch skated through a narrow gap between Harvick’s nose and the outside SAFER Barrier to capture his 13th stage win of the season over Matt Kenseth, Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski and Erik Jones.
“Having a little good luck is nice for a change,” said crew chief Adam Stevens. We’ve been a little bit off on the long run, but we feel like we made a good adjustment the first stop and the track is changing now. … Certainly our main competition was that (No.) 78 car (of Truex). I still felt like we have some room to improve on our car. Hopefully we can make it a little bit better. The (No.) 20 (Kenseth) was coming on strong there at the end, so now we have to stay in front of him.”
“That was … closer than I would have wanted it,” added Busch of his escape avenue. “Fortunately we were able to come through unscathed. Now we want to keep all the marks off this M&M’s Caramel Camry, keep it up front and close it out today.”
Truex got his car righted and coasted around to collect sixth-place points at the stage break, with Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Blaney and Jamie McMurray completing the top 10.
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Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
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