New Hampshire Rear-View Mirror


Busch celebrates the win at New Hampshire. (Photo: Getty Images)


Kyle Busch was determined to come back from his open playoff round disappointment last week at Chicagoland Speedway.

He accomplished the goal in dominating fashion.

Busch led 187 laps and once he had the lead, he was never challenged on his way to Victory Lane in the ISM Connect 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. After a Chicago race that ended in a 15th-place finish after a pair of miscues on pit road, Busch was not to be denied Sunday at New Hampshire.

The win continued the extraordinary Toyota dominance of the season with manufacturer drivers leading all but one lap on Sunday and a Camry scoring win number 10.

But the race also continued the trend in the opening round of the playoffs of teams playing it safe, rather than pushing the envelope too hard for fear of losing spots. It’s all about holding on to what you have in the early going and Sunday’s race was for the most part a tame affair.

The immediacy and urgency should be ramped up next week in Dover, the first round cut-off race for four drivers.

However for Busch and Toyota running mate Martin Truex Jr., along with Kyle Larson and Brad Keselowski who have advanced to the second round via the point standings, it will be a peaceful week of sleep ahead.

  • It’s odd to think Sunday’s race was the final fall weekend at New Hampshire, with next year’s date being taken to Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Adding to the oddness was the extremely warm temperatures in the area that felt more like the July weekend than the annual fall trip. New England race fans will get a short track schedule of racing next year with modifieds and late models, etc. but it’s a blow to the area that the Cup Series will no longer make two trips to the track. The schedule now loses a one-mile track in favor of another 1.5-mile facility in Vegas, losing some diversity in the process.

  • Inspection and illegal race cars have permeated the sport’s headlines in recent weeks and New Hampshire was no exception. Joey Logano’s car failed to make it through pre-qualifying inspection and the Team Penske pilot never took a lap, thus starting Sunday’s race from the 39th spot. But NASCAR also assessed a practice hold penalty for the entire final 50 minute session of the weekend. As part of the punishment, Logano was forced to sit in the car for the duration of the practice while on pit road, which has been an element of the penalty since its inception. Logano called it “a joke” and there was some outrage expressed by other drivers as well as media members about the rule. But no matter what NASCAR has done of late, teams do not seem to be getting the message to stop pushing the rules outside their boundaries. Maybe they will now. Logano’s predicament might seem childish to some and as he said “makes the sport look dumb.” Maybe so, but not as dumb as teams breaking the rules on a weekly basis and the sport forced to hand out penalties every Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • Tyler Reddick scored his first career XFINITY Series race win Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway on a night where the series regulars had a chance to shine since there were no Cup interlopers in the field. But despite fans demanding more limitations on Cup drivers participating, and NASCAR responding by dropping the number down further next year to just seven, the stands at Kentucky Speedway were sparsely populated. As was the case in July with a stand-alone NXS race at Iowa without any Cup drivers in the field, what fans say and what they support seem to be two different things. Next year’s schedule loses another stand-alone race when Kentucky’s date goes to Las Vegas as part of a tripleheader weekend. Without better attendance, it doesn’t make sense to send NASCAR’s number two division too far away from its Cup Series big brother.

  • The other side of the attendance coin was Saturday night when Martinsville Speedway hosted the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 late model stock car race. The first event held at the historic track under its brand new LED lighting system generated an enormous turnout. The garage was also full as nearly 90 cars descended on the Virginia short track to take part in the country’s most prestigious late model stock car race. It was a great sight to see and I can’t help but wonder when one of NASCAR’s top three divisions will compete under Martinsville lights.

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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