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New Hampshire Rear-View Mirror

Two races. Two thrilling finishes.

Just a week after Kurt Busch edged his brother Kyle to win at Kentucky Speedway, Kevin Harvick hung on in an epic last laps battle with Denny Hamlin to score a victory in Sunday’s Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Harvick snapped a 21-race winless streak with his first win of the year and can now stop answering the “When are you going to win?” question that’s been asked since the start of the season.

See Also: Race Recap and Results

New Hampshire has always been a difficult place to pass and the track for the most part lived up to its reputation on Sunday. However the combination of high temperatures, PJ1 and the 750 horsepower variation of the rules package did produce a competitive and entertaining race.

But like last week, the finish will be all anyone remembers and the Cup Series continues to pump out memorable ones on a regular basis.

Pocono, you’re up next.

  • No fan can say they didn’t get their money’s worth when they take in a weekend of racing at New Hampshire. Although the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and Xfinity Series now only visits the “Magic Mile” once a year, that weekend is jam-packed with on track activity literally from morning until night. In addition to NASCAR’s top two series in action this weekend, fans were able to see the Whelen Modified Tour, a modified all-star race and the K&N Pro Series East in action. New England has always been a hotbed of motorsports and fans in the area are treated to veritable smorgasbord of racing at NHMS.
  • The story of the “Big 3” in the Xfinity Series added another chapter on Saturday with Christopher Bell dominating the ROXOR 200 leading 186 laps on his way to victory number five of the season. Bell, Cole Custer and Tyler Reddick have combined to win 13 of the 18 races run this season including 11 of the last 12. Like last year’s Cup Series version when Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. dominated the regular season, the Xfinity Series trio have separated themselves from the rest of the field with virtually no other driver able to keep pace. By the way, Bell has already accumulated 36 playoff points and built a nice cushion with lots of racing to come before the playoff schedule kicks in.
  • Saturday’s race featured a dust-up between Paul Menard and Harrison Burton, which vividly depicted the schism of sorts in the sport today between veteran and younger drivers. Menard was not pleased with how he perceived Burton racing him that included contact. So unapologetically Menard hit Burton racing into the first turn sending his around and into the wall. The two discussed the incident face to face on pit road after the race with not surprisingly two completely distinct views of what happened. “A lot of these kids are good clean racers,” Menard said. “He kind of stood out from the crowd. He had a fast enough car he could have been clean. I hate tearing up race cars. I didn’t really want to tear up his race car, that’s for sure. But sometimes enough is enough.” Burton, who carried himself and conveyed his thoughts well beyond his 18-years, saw things differently. “I barely touched him,” Burton said. “There’s barely a mark on his door. I don’t know if he’s heard of NASCAR before, but this isn’t F1 where if you touch someone, there’s a 5-second penalty.” It won’t be the last time drivers on opposite ends of the experience spectrum don’t see eye-to-eye.
  • Speaking of racing styles, there is no doubt a culture change in going on in the Cup Series thanks to this year’s rules package. Blocking, once the bane of existence around the garage area, has now become a necessity to keep track position and not just at the superspeedways of Daytona and Talladega. “Blocking is a part of what we do,” Kevin Harvick said over the weekend. “Defending your position is a part of what we do and it’s just an evolution of where the rules package is. Heck, I had a blown motor last week, a broken engine and was only three-tenths off the pace, so you’re talking about small amounts of time, especially on the mile-and-a-half race tracks, where you know if you can keep somebody behind you, and that comes with side-drafting and blocking and all those things that if they’re directly behind you, there’s now way they’ll pass you because of the aero.”

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