Loudon Winners and Losers
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone on September 23, 2013 | 1:57 P.M. EST
With two straight second-place finishes to open the 2013 Chase, both coming behind teammate Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch was among the winners this weekend in New Hampshire. (Photo: Getty Images)
The second race of the Chase at New Hampshire Motor Speedway turned out to be a great weekend in New England for some but a not-so-fun visit to Loudon for others.
Matt Kenseth – Can’t get much better than starting the Chase with back-to-back victories. Sunday's win continued Kenseth’s career season and was his seventh triumph of the year, four coming at tracks where the 2003 champ had never won before. Bad news for his competitors – Dover is one of his favorites.
Kyle Busch – Normally, kicking off the Chase with a pair of runner-up finishes would be reason for celebration. But in Busch’s case, it’s come at the expense of his teammate Kenseth taking a pair of checkered flags. Still, Busch is off to the best playoff start of his career and is only 14 points out of the top spot.
Jimmie Johnson – That streak of four bad races to end the regular season seems like a distant memory. Johnson & Co. have flipped on the Chase switch that helped drive the No. 48 team to five straight championships. They turned in a solid performance in New Hampshire.
Greg Biffle – Scored his first top-five finish since Michigan in June and pumped some life into the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing team. Biffle usually runs well at Dover so there should be some momentum riding into "The Monster Mile” after a stellar third-place performance in Loudon.
Jamie McMurray – Things looked bleak for McMurray when he tangled with teammate Juan Pablo Montoya early. But the Earnhardt Ganassi Racing driver rallied with an impressive run that ended in McMurray’s third top-five finish of 2013 including two in the last three races.
Kasey Kahne – Fell 71 points out of the lead with a 37th-place finish after crashing into the inside frontstretch wall. Kahne’s up-and-down season looks very much like it will end down, at least in terms of a potential championship.
Joey Logano – His Chase chances are also on life support. Despite finishing 14th, Logano fell 69 points behind Kenseth. The lesson here may be finishing the regular season on a high note really doesn’t matter if the same results can’t be carried into the playoffs.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Earnhardt and crew chief Steve Letarte certainly deserve kudos for rallying from an early pit road hiccup to get back to the front of the field thanks to strategy. But Junior’s sixth-place finish still wasn’t enough to keep him from falling 62 points out of the top spot.
Clint Bowyer – Got to the front of the field thanks to tire strategy but didn’t stay there and wound up 17th, and is now 48 out of the points lead. But the less-than-supportive comments from sponsor 5-hour ENERGY over the weekend may be more of a worry for Bowyer and Michael Waltrip Racing.
Kurt Busch – Never was comfortable all day long and despite being able to finish 13th, the Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet was a handful in New Hampshire. There were some heated words of frustration between driver and crew over the radio, as well. The clock is fast approaching midnight for this Cinderella story, with Busch 40 points behind Kenseth.
The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.