Column By: BRITTANY NUTILE / RPW – LOUDON, NH – Kevin Harvick got the monkey off his back in 2019, winning the Foxwoods Casino 301 with a crazy finish between he and Denny Hamlin.
Denny kept gaining on Harvick and eventually getting to Harvick’s bumper and getting side by side with him to be putting a lot of pressure on Harvick but, Harvick help Hamlin off and got the win. Kevin started the race 14th and because being such a long race it helps to just stay out of trouble and just buy time and try to get his way to the top 10 or top 5. Harvick talked about how he and Hamlin got through the last couple of laps side by side and Kevin holding on to the lead and winning the race.
“For me I knew as soon as Denny got close enough I knew I didn’t need to be in the third lane, I knew he was going to try and going to the middle lane and get me out into the fourth lane and there’s no grip up there. Going to the bottom, I just need to survive the hit and I got lucky and timed it so that as soon as he hit me, I was on the brakes and able to keep my momentum and slow him down. He got beside me that point I was half throttle in the corner. At that point you want the last shot again into turn 3 and got off a bunch, he got into the right rear corner panel we were able to turn off the corner.”
Denny Hamlin finished 2nd, he started the race in 23rd place. Denny led most of stage 3 and seem to have a dominating car after getting the lead putting a gap between her and the rest of the field. It was a wild finish between him and Harvick, when Hamlin was able to catch Kevin and be able to chase him down to maybe pass him for the win Unfortunately for Hamlin didn’t work out that way and Hamlin took 2nd place in the race.
Erik Jones finishes the race in 3rd. Jones had a good day at the magic mile, he had a few bumps along the way like faking to go on pit road during a restart and then almost went through the commitment line but, the rule is you have to have all four tires inside the line and he only had to and then went back on the track so, it didn’t cost him anything but, he was upset with himself. He bounced back and had a very good run after that just couldn’t catch the 2nd place or leader because they were just too fast to catch up with.
Matt DeBenedetto had an excellent run at NHMS in the race, Matt started the race in 7th and stayed in the top 10 all race long, had good pit stops and was able to bring home a top 5 finish for him and his team. Matt has had some good finishes throughout the season, he has had 4 top 5’s, 1 top 10, 6 top 20s, 7 finishes from 21st to 30th place and 3 finishes outside 30th place.
Ryan Newman finished 7th repaired what they thought was a lost cylinder and coming from the back in the beginning with a back up car. He ended up having a broken coil wire that they ended up fixing in 3 pit stops without loosing a lap. Ryan had started in the back in 26th, he had to go to a back up car after getting in an accident with Denny Hamlin during practice. Ryan also ran double duty in the tour race, he started the tour race 15th and played some pit road strategy but, it didn’t work as well as he hoped. Newman finished the tour race in 17th place.
It was a big weekend for the boys from New England. Both Ryan Preece and Andy Seuss were running double duty in the NWMT series and the cup race, Andy and Austin Theriault were making their cup debuts at NHMS and Joey was coming back to New Hampshire as the reigning Monster Energy Cup Series Champion.
Joey Logano started the race in 8th and seemed to fall back a little bit and then came back for the last half of the race. After the stages and cautions it seemed to put Joey in the back a little but, he got back up to the top 10 and had a better car throughout the race.
Ryan Preece finished 21st. Ryan had a good race today at one point of the race he was up to the top 10 and getting better with strategy but, then got back farther in the pack but, kept up the pace with other drivers and stayed on the lead lap. He also raced the NWMT and stayed in the middle of the pact throughout the race he tried a different strategy than the other drivers but, it didn’t work the way he wanted it. He started the tour race in 19th place and finished the race 19th.
Andy Seuss finished 28th, he started the race 35th. For being his cup debut, he did well he stayed running and didn’t make mistakes that would put him a lap down or out of the race. NHMS is a place to stay 9on the lead lap because if you’re not in the top 10 you tend to get lapped easily and its hard to pass and just a difficult mile track.
Austin Theriault started the race in 36th and didn’t finish the race, he had a problem and went into the garage. He only finished 185 laps, this is tough track to make your debut on it’s a difficult track to pass, and to stay ahead of the leaders because its such a short track. He finished the race 35th.
NASCAR XFINITY Series Race
Christopher Bell won the ROXOR 200 XFINITY race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday.
Bell started the race 2nd and dominated most of the race. Last year he won this race and did it in the same style he did this race, he dominated. Bell led all but 14 laps of the race, Christopher won stage 2 and the race, he finished 2nd in stage 1.
Cole Custer won the pole for todays race and had a strong car but couldn’t get close to Bell to put any pressure on him for the lead. At one point in the race, it looked like he was getting closer but, not close to do anything. Bell just had a really strong car and knows how to get around this place since he won last year. Custer finished 2nd in todays race.
Massachusetts native, Kaz Grala had a decent run here at his home track. Kaz started the race 12th and had a decent run, just trying to get footing after only having a few starts this year in the xfinity series. This was a special race for Kaz he was back in the #21 Richard Childress Racing Chevy to compete in the xfinity race at NHMS. Kaz has competed at NHMS before in the K&N east series, the truck series and the xfinity series. His stats at NHMS for all divisions he raced there in the xfinity series he started 12th and 16th then finished the race 14th for both. In the truck series, he started 9th and 12th and then finished 7th and 10th in both races. Finally, in the K&N east series he races in that series for 3 years, he started 28th, 6th, and 8th, then finished the race 10th, 3rd, and 21st. He had success in the truck series when they went to Daytona International Speedway in 2017 where he won the pole and won the race. He was the youngest driver at the age of 18 to win the pole and win the race at DIS, he was also the youngest to win and make the NASCAR playoffs.
During an interview on Friday at NHMS, I asked him about how he felt being back at his home track and if he felt any pressure only doing a few xfinity races this year and how he felt overall being back in a racecar. “I’m always busy when I come up to NHMS, which makes it special because it’s my home track. It’s a lot of fun to race at, its special for me to have friends, family and local fans come out especially when some cant make it to other races so, it’s really special for me to get to see them. This race is one I always look forward to and I have been racing this track for the last 5 years or so from the K&N series to the trucks and xfinity series.”
Justin Haley finished the race at NHMS 13th. Haley started the race 11th and had a good car and was just working through traffic and to get his car better. He finished stage 1 in 8th and had a strong run in the beginning. Then in stage 2 he finished 12th and seemed to stay in the top 15 in the last half of the race. Today was the first time being in a xfinity car at NHMS. He was in a truck in 2017, he drove the #24 and started and finished 13th. He also ran the K&N for 2 years, in 2015 he ran the #5 car at NHMS, he started the race 19th and finished 8th. In 2016 he ran the #5 at NHMS, he started the race 4th and finished the race 3rd.
Justin talk in an interview Thursday about what he looks forward to coming to NHMS and how he likes the racetrack. “Coming to NHMS, this is a place I haven’t ran exceptionally at so, any motivation helps, it overall helps and especially since we did well last week except for some bad luck .”
Race Pro Weekly would like to send their condolences to the entire Kaulig racing team, to Haley, the crew and the family of Nick Harrison, who passed away on Saturday evening.