Matt Kenseth Scores the Victory at Loudon

by Tucker White On Sun, Jul. 17, 2016

Matt Kenseth celebrates victory at Loudon. Photo: Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Matt Kenseth will be dining on lobster following enduring a flurry of cautions late in the going to score the victory at the Magic Mile.

The driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota took the lead from Martin Truex Jr. in the closing stages of the race and held on with the rush of cautions in the remaining laps to win the New Hampshire 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

“You’re always pleased to be in victory lane,” Kenseth said. “The farther down the road you get, the better they feel for sure. Thanks to everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing. I’ve said it a million times, but I’m blessed with this opportunity to be over here with the guys I get to work with and my great sponsors, Dollar General and of course, can’t do it without Toyota, TRD (Toyota Racing Development), Interstate Batteries, WileyX, Gatorade. Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) and the team over there made great, great adjustments today. I didn’t do a very good job qualifying and after round one today it was pretty much money, we just had to get there. It was a fun day.”

It’s his 24th career victory in 597 career Sprint Cup Series starts, second of the season, third at Loudon, the eighth top-10 finish of 2016 and 18th in 33 starts at Loudon.

His car failed post-race inspection at the Laser Inspection Station (LIS). Any penalties resulting from this will be announced on Wednesday.

Tony Stewart came home to a runner-up finish in his No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet.

“It was fun,” Stewart said of his day. “The hardest part of the restarts was just which line you were in. If you were on the bottom you were at a huge disadvantage. You needed to be on that top line and needed to be able to hold them down when they got there. We restarted sixth on the outside that last time and that really was the key to getting us up where we were at the end.”

It’s his 19th top-10 finish in 34 starts at Loudon and fifth of 2016.

Despite being a non-factor for the whole race, Joey Logano edged out Kevin Harvick at the line to round out the podium in his No. 22 Team Penske Ford.

“We were awful at the beginning of the race,” Logano said of his race. “We tried some new things and apparently they didn’t work so we aborted mission in the middle of the race and got some speed back in the 22 but not enough to beat the 20. I thought we would have something since we had four tires but we didn’t have the car to get up there with him. Overall, to recover to third after running 15th or 16th most of the race is pretty good for this team. We have a never quit attitude and it paid off today.”

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 SHR Chevrolet, wasn’t too happy with his race, saying he was “disgusted to tell you the truth. It’s the same thing every week. We just make mistake after mistake and until we clean that up we don’t have a chance to win races putting ourselves in a hole every time we make a mistake. It sucks because the cars are plenty fast, but we are just not executing.”

Greg Biffle rounded out the top-five in his No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford.

“It was a great run with the 18 car there toward the end,” Biffle said. “We finally had a chance to race with those guys a little bit. We are still working hard on these cars to get them faster.”

Jamie McMurray finished sixth in his No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. Ryan Newman finished seventh in his No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet as Kyle Busch led 133 laps, the most of any driver, on his way to an eighth-place finish in his No. 18 JGR Toyota.

“Our Interstate Batteries Camry was fast today we just didn’t need all of those cautions at the end,” Busch said of his race. “The car was strong on a long run. We still seemed to battle the balance and just kept going loose and tight at different points on the track. Given how much we led we are a little disappointed with eighth but we’ll take it and look to Indy next weekend.”

Denny Hamlin led five laps on his way to a ninth-place finish in his No. 11 JGR Toyota and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. rounded out the top-10 in his No. 17 RFR Ford.

Jimmie Johnson, who led one lap, finished 12th. Brad Keselowski, who led one lap, finished 15th while Truex, who led 123 laps, finished 16th.

Alex Bowman was running in the top-10 toward the end of the race before a tire blowout relegated him to a 26th-place finish.

“It was amazing,” Bowman said of his day. “I can’t thank Hendrick Motorsports and all these guys enough. They took me to my worst race track by far and made me look good. I just have to thank Mr. H (Rick Hendrick). I had such an amazing time. Everybody, Greg (Ives, crew chief) and all the guys were so welcoming. I hate the circumstances and really hope Dale is feeling well, but I had so much fun today. Obviously, I hate that we didn’t get the finish we deserve, but I’ve raced with a lot of these guys for a long time, raced around them (but) I’ve never got to actually race with guys like Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, all those guys. I had a lot of fun passing really good cars. Just really thankful for Nationwide and all of Hendrick Motorsports for letting me be here.”

Twenty-six cars finished the race on the lead lap and 38 were running at the finish.

Michael McDowell and Josh Wise were the only two retirements from the race.

The race lasted two hours, 57 minutes and 53 seconds at an average speed of 107.416 mph. There were 13 lead changes among six different drivers and seven cautions for 36 laps.

Harvick leaves Loudon with a 14-point lead over Keselowski in the points standings.

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