New Hampshire Checkered and Black Flags


New Hampshire Motor Speedway produced some great and some not-so-great stories over the weekend. (Photo: Getty Images)


New Hampshire Motor Speedway produced some great and some not-so-great stories over the weekend.

Checkered Flags

Denny Hamlin
Joe Gibbs Racing’s long nightmare is over as Hamlin delivered the team’s first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win of the season. He had to hold off a fast-closing Kyle Larson to do so, but Hamlin’s 30th win was just what the doctor ordered for JGR.

Kyle Larson
Had to start from the rear of the field for a second straight week, this time for a deck lid that failed post-qualifying inspection and took away Larson’s pole-winning run. But just as he did in Kentucky, Larson made short order of the field and got to the front, ultimately challenging Hamlin.

Daniel Suarez
A career-best finish for Suarez (sixth) was another high point in the JGR story that saw the team put Hamlin in Victory Lane and Matt Kenseth in fourth place. The freshman driver is making progress and trending upward as the season races through its second half.

Stewart-Haas Racing
An impressive outing for the entire organization on Sunday led by Kevin Harvick’s fifth-place finish. The team had all four of its drivers among the first 13 finishers with Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer and Danica Patrick all enjoying solid outings in Loudon.

Ryan Preece
The New England native made his home crowd proud with a stellar run in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race. Preece made the most of his opportunity in Joe Gibbs Racing equipment, wheeling the No. 20 Toyota to a second-place finish behind teammate Kyle Busch. It was a performance that made short-track racers around the country smile.

Black Flags

Jason Ratcliff
Sure, it’s easy to play "Monday Morning Crew Chief," but the decision to give Matt Kenseth two tires rather than four when he was leading late in Sunday's race cost the No. 20 team a chance for victory. Once the green flag reappeared, Kenseth was toast and settled for fourth. As an aside, Ratcliff will reportedly not return to the No. 20 team next season when Erik Jones replaces Kenseth behind the wheel.

Kyle Busch
Mistakes cost Busch a shot at winning on Sunday and sweeping the weekend, namely not one but two speeding penalties on pit road down the stretch. Busch has only himself to blame for not being the guy to bring JGR win No. 1 of the Cup season.

Joey Logano
Things have gone from bad to worse for Logano and the No. 22 Team Penske outfit. He had a mechanical issue on Sunday and finished 37th, putting Logano further out of the playoff picture and into territory where it appears that only a win will earn him a spot to run for the championship.

Kasey Kahne
The weekend started well with a top-five qualifying effort in the No. 5 car. That optimism quickly vanished on race day with multiple issues and questionable strategy leading to another disappointing finish.

Denny Hamlin’s "Lobster Phobia"
No, it’s not a joke. Denny Hamlin is actually afraid of lobsters, which made the traditional Victory Lane celebration at New Hampshire ... well, awkward. "I’m not going to do anything with it. I’ve seen it and touched it for the last time. As far as I’m concerned, they need to put it back in the water and let it live," was what Hamlin said when asked about his cringing after the over-sized crustacean was presented to him after winning.

The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.

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