New Hampshire Race Recap

The Key Moment - Ryan Newman retook the lead from Kurt Busch in the pits but with 68 laps to go Busch reclaimed the lead and was never headed.

In a Nutshell - Two drivers combined to lead 297 of 300 laps. Yawn.

Dramatic Moment - When the biggest cheer the crowd gives all day is for a driver swap on pit lane you know the race wasn't too good.

There was some good racing for the fifth through eighth positions with three laps to go.

What They'll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week

Aren't you glad TNT didn't have Dave Burns do the pre-race interview with Dale Junior?

How long has Kurt Busch been out of Victory Lane? He thanked the wrong sports drink company.

Whose brilliant decision was it to include this less than exciting racetrack among the final ten races that will determine a championship?

Is it ironic a driver named Busch won the race in New Hampshire the same day John Kerry opened up the Democratic National Convention right down the road a piece?

How weird was it seeing the rookie yellow stripes on the back of the 8 car Sunday?

Who was at fault in the incident that bought out the fourth caution; Schrader or Truex?

Anyone hear something about an Evil Kneivel movie on some cable outlet? I've heard rumors but the network doesn't seem to be promoting it very heavily.

The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune

It wasn't a good week for native New Englander Ricky Craven. Earlier in the week it was announced he'd be out of the 32 car next season. Sunday he was involved in a lap 60 crash while running in eleventh place. To add insult to injury Craven wrecked hard on lap 255.

When no early caution flags flew Earnhardt Jr. was forced to stay in the car much longer than he'd hoped. Replacement driver Scott Truex got involved in a wreck and finished 31st.

It wasn't a great weekend for Greg Biffle either. He finished 30th in Saturday's Busch race after being penalized on a tire violation and on Sunday he wrecked out on lap 272. He finished 35th Sunday.

Rusty Wallace was trying to hang on for a top 10 finish with six laps to go but Dale Jarrett punted him into the wall.

Michael Waltrip had a better car than his sixth place finish indicates. He ran second for most of the first half of the race but a jack failure on pit road dropped him to sixteenth.

Two drivers you don't normally associate with brain fade mistakes or classless moves, Dale Jarrett and Mark Martin, took out Rusty Wallace and Ricky Rudd. In Rudd's case it might have been a mercy killing.

"The Seven Come Fore Eleven" Award For Fine Fortune

Thirteenth place probably wasn't the finish Kevin Harvick was hoping for but his day could have been worse. He got punted sideways by his teammate Robby Gordon on the first lap of the race in heavy traffic.

Matt Kenseth got his car completely sideways early in the race but nobody hit him and Kenseth rallied back to a fourth place finish.

Kasey Kahne lost a ton of track position when he pitted too close to the wall but he rallied back to an eighth place finish.

Elliott Sadler tore up his car in the incident involving Ricky Craven and Jimmie Johnson but he steadily made forward progress late in the race to finish fifteenth and minimize the hit he took in the points.

Worth Noting

The top 10 drivers competed in four Dodges, three Fords and three Chevys.

Kasey Kahne in eighth was the top finishing rookie

Kurt Busch became the fifth driver to win multiple events this season. Those five drivers (Busch, Johnson, Earnhardt, Gordon and Kenseth) have combined to win fourteen of 19 races this season. Two teams, Roush Racing and Hendrick Motorsports have combined to win twelve of those nineteen races. Add in Penske South and three teams have won fourteen of nineteen races.

Despite an off day Jimmie Johnson continues to dominate all drivers with thirteen top 5 finishes in nineteen races. Next best is Earnhardt Junior with nine. But Johnson is now tied with Jeff Gordon with fourteen top 10 results scored by each driver

Jeff Gordon has now strung together four straight top 5 finishes, including two wins.

Ryan Newman's third place finish was only his second top 10 result in the last eight races.

Matt Kenseth's fourth place finish was his first top 5 since the World 600.

Tony Stewart scored his third consecutive top 5 finish Sunday.

Michael Waltrip has now scored top 10 finishes in seven of the last nine points races.

Kasey Kahne finished in the top 10 for the first time since Michigan.

His eleventh place finish was Jimmie Johnson's worst since Dover and only his second finish outside the top 10 since the Bristol race in March concluded.

Brendan Gaughan hasn't had a top 10 finish since California in May. How long until Brendan is gone?

What's the Points?

The top 5 in points remain the same. Points leader Jimmie Johnson gained some ground on Earnhardt Jr. but lost some ground to Jeff Gordon.

Race winner Kurt Busch vaulted up three spots to sixth in the standings. Bobby Labonte, Elliott Sadler and Kevin Harvick all lost one spot in the points. They are now seventh through ninth respectively.

The drivers looking to get into the C4C held position in the eleventh through fifteenth spots. Michael Waltrip jumped up two spots to sixteenth but is now 238 points out of tenth place with seven races left to run before we return to New Hampshire to start the Playoffs. The late race wreck dropped Rusty Wallace to nineteenth in the standings 310 points out of the top 10. Stick a fork in him, he's done. Greg Biffle's season of discontent rolls on. He fell another two spots to 25th.

Things are pretty tight in positions sixth through tenth currently with just 48 points separating sixth place Kurt Busch from tenth place Ryan Newman. But like Bill Murray told us in Meatballs, "It just doesn't matter!" As long as those five drivers stay in the top 10 they're in the Dog and Pony show to decide a champion.

Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) Give it two warm cans of whatever generic stuff is on sale at the Biggie-Mart this week.

Next Up - It's back to Pocono where the last of the June race infield traffic ought to be just reaching I-80 by now.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2004

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