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Harvick charges to New Hampshire win with late-race surge
RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Updated Chase Grid SHOP: Harvick gear " Chase gear LOUDON, N.H. -- Remember last week, when Kevin Harvick was trapped a lap down at Chicagoland Speedway , finished 20th and fell out of the top 12 in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings? Remember last year, when Harvick crashed at Chicagoland and ran out of fuel while leading at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and had to win at Dover to advance in the Chase? That's all moot, now that Harvick redeemed himself with a victory in Sunday's Bad Boy Off Road 300 at New Hampshire, the second race in the Chase. Surging ahead of Matt Kenseth after a restart with six laps left in the 300 -lap event at the 1.058-mile track, Harvick pulled away to win by .442 seconds and joined Chicagoland winner Martin Truex Jr . in the Chase's Round of 12. "One of our main goals this year was to not stress ourselves out so bad," said Harvick, who won last year's Dover race to escape the Round of 16 in his last opportunity. "I feel like the performance of the car and the things that we're doing are good enough to be competitive, and we just need to not make mistakes and go from there." Harvick got his opportunity to win the race when Ricky Stenhouse Jr . and Reed Sorenson collided on the backstretch on Lap 291 to bring out the sixth and final caution of the race. Starting on the inside lane and timing the restart perfectly, Harvick stayed side- by -side with Kenseth entering the first corner and cleared Kenseth's No. 20 Toyota through Turn 2. Kenseth was unable to get back to the rear bumper of Harvick’s No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet over the final six laps. "Man, that worked out really good," said Harvick, who won for the second time at the Magic Mile, the third time this season and the 34th time in his career. "The car was pretty good on the restarts. Once we got clean air there at the end, it wound up being really good up front. I'm just really proud of our team. They did a great job." NASCAR admonished Kenseth before the final restart not to slow down in the restart zone, as the sanctioning body believed he had done on the previous restart, when Kenseth held off Truex for the lead. "They made it sound like I slowed down the last time," Kenseth said. "But in my opinion, the leader is always supposed to have the advantage. He's the leader. He earned that advantage. They said I slowed down a little bit last time, which I've got to re-watch it. "I don't really think I did, but if I did at all, it's because the inside car (Truex) was laying back a little bit, and you want to make sure he gets up to your nose so it's a fair restart. If he's back at your door and anticipates a little bit, it's not a fair restart. He's going to be equal to you or a little bit better." Then Kenseth second-guessed the way he handled the final restart with Harvick beside him. "I saw Kevin at my door, and I should have known better," Kenseth said. "I should have went deep in the box and waited, and the acceleration was probably better down there anyway, but I didn't. I went right at the first line, and he anticipated a little bit of that and got rolling good through the gears, and then I got through the gears bad. I spun the tires in second (gear), I spun the tires in third, so I had a really bad restart besides all that." Kyle Busch finished third behind Harvick and Kenseth after pitting for fresh tires under caution on Lap 265 and charging through the field. Brad Keselowski ran fourth and took over the Chase points lead by one point over Truex, who led a race-high 141 laps in a seventh-place run but wore out his tires trying to pass Kenseth after a restart on Lap 269. Kurt Busch came home fifth, followed by polesitter Carl Edwards , Truex, Jimmie Johnson , Kasey Kahne and Kyle Larson . Harvick escaped the bottom four in the standings, and that left Jamie McMurray , Austin Dillon , Tony Stewart and Chris Buescher all needing to improve their positions to avoid elimination next Sunday at Dover International Speedway . McMurray and Dillon (19th and 16th, respectively, at New Hampshire) are five points behind Larson in 12th place. Stewart is 11 points back of Larson after a 23rd-place run on Sunday, and Buescher trails by 30 points, needing a Dover miracle. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Sprint Cup Series GarageCam takes over NHMS
GarageCam host, Matthew Dillner, takes you on an exclusive and interactive tour of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage before teams hit the track at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
As sun sets on Stewart, Elliott's time to shine brightening
CHICAGO -- Perhaps this is the last one of these for Tony Stewart , the last time to answer the somewhat entertaining questions and to skewer reporters for the lame ones at a media day . For Chase Elliott , it was the first one, the bright-lights pre-staging to the rookie's first Chase playoff run and likely the first of many to come. But it will be the only one where Elliott gets to go head-to-head and fender-to-fender with Stewart. For that, the 20-year-old is thankful. "Tony is a guy I've looked up to for a long time," said Elliott , son of NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott . "As many of you guys know, Tony was the first guy, other than my dad, I was ever OK with pulling for. I've always had a lot of respect for him." It's a mutual feeling, Stewart said, and one of the ties that binds the oldest and youngest competitors in the 16-driver Chase field. Thursday was Stewart at his best in the Windy City's South Side at the Ready. Set. Chase. launch events, offering witty barbs in one breath and suffering no fools in the next, all the while commanding the attention that a freewheeling three-time champion is prone to do. But the 45-year-old veteran was his most open in discussing his relationship with Elliott , who joins Denny Hamlin (2006) and Chris Buescher (2016) as the only rookies ever to qualify for Chase eligibility. Stewart recognized the youngster's focus early on, when Elliott and his father would pay visits to Stewart's car at the race track. What Stewart said he noticed was an engaged kid, but one who was too shy to speak before his grade-school years -- "I didn't know if he was going to be mute or what," Stewart said. As the years moved on, Elliott began to open up more and his fandom for Stewart's racing career began to grow. Eventually, the fondness for his own racing pursuits sprouted as well, steadily advancing up the NASCAR ladder to his current state as the premier series' presumptive Sunoco Rookie of Year. "That's what was cool about him," Stewart said. "I mean, you never dream at that spot, at that time, that these guys are going to grow up and they're going to follow in their father's footsteps. I'd say Chase has got an extremely good chance of being every bit as good if not better than his father, and his father was great. "So, you know, it's cool to say that I got to know these guys. I mean, John Hunter Nemechek , I was his very first sponsor when he was racing go-karts. You know, stuff like that. When you see these kids that are growing up now, you don't realize how old you are until you realize how old they are now. Start doing the math. You're like, hmm, it's changed a lot." Stewart's calculations this year seem to add up after a tumultuous last few seasons. He's in his first Chase since 2012, has his first race victory since 2013 and will wrap up his final full season with a chance at a fourth championship. The upswing in performance stands in stark contrast to the lean years that were marked by personal hardships away from the NASCAR world. The adversity from his extracurricular events was almost enough to make him walk away from stock-car racing's big leagues after the 2015 season, but Stewart said he returned to bid his fans farewell. Elliott -- a fan himself -- is among those selfishly happy that he did, providing a 10-race denouement to his own Hall of Fame career. "I'm glad that he decided to wait one more year because that is a pretty special moment for me to be able to race against one of my heroes like that," Elliott said. "So, you know, I don't necessarily look at him any different than I do anybody else when it comes to a competitor or how you treat anyone. But, you know, I think he's obviously done a good job. I have a lot of respect for him. I expect him to be strong in these next few weeks." While Stewart acknowledges that his time as a full-time driver in NASCAR is coming to a close, he's hoping to rekindle some of the magic from his championship charge in 2011. Thursday, he superstitiously reiterated his refrain that he was "wasting a spot" in that year's Chase, when he turned a winless regular season into a stirring five-win playoff run. Stewart still pines for a last hurrah behind the wheel, starting this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway , site of Sunday's Chase-opening Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). But win or lose when his driving days are done, he already sees a bright future in the sport coming from the next generation, from a driver he first encountered as a quiet kid from Georgia with a rich racing pedigree. "He's definitely going to be a marquee guy. I mean, he's already a marquee guy and is in his rookie season," Stewart said of Elliott . "As time goes on, some of us that are getting up there in age and are retiring, he's going to be the guy that's going to carry the flag and carry the torch for NASCAR." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Elliott : 'Nothing is yours until it's over'
Chase Elliott discusses the late-race events that saw him go from leading the race to a third-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway.
Elliott : Gordon texted apology after incident
RELATED: Gustafson furious at Gordon over radio Things got a little awkward at Richmond on Saturday night between Hendrick Motorsports teammates. Jeff Gordon , driving the No. 88 Chevrolet in place of Dale Earnhardt Jr ., caused contact with Chase Elliott , driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet -- you know, the one that Gordon drove to four Sprint Cup Series titles -- and nearly cost his teammate a shot at the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup after his ride was damaged. Elliott managed to still make the cut on points, but Gordon, in some ways Elliott's mentor, went out of his way to text the Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender and apologize for the incident, the 20-year-old told media at the Ready. Set. Chase. launch event Thursday in Chicago. "He sent me a text after the race," Elliott said. "I knew it wasn't his fault. I wasn't concerned with it at all. It was a racing deal. You hate, of course, it had to be two teammates, it had to be myself and Jeff. But at the end of the day we both get it and our teams get it." Elliott later added, that the apology "wasn't at all necessary." Alex Bowman will be behind the wheel of the No. 88 at the Chicagoland Chase opener, but now we know there will be no tension between Gordon and Elliott over the incident for the veteran driver's last two starts of 2016 -- Dover and Martinsville -- moving forward. &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
Bruce: XFINITY Chase intensity ratchets up aggression
RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Chase Grid SPARTA, Ky. -- Was Saturday night's opening Chase race for NASCAR’s XFINITY Series an example of good, hard racing or a case of folks driving over their heads? That depends on who one asked afterward. Race winner Elliott Sadler wasn’t pointing fingers, and race winners have rarely been heard to utter a discouraging word. But the JR Motorsports driver said he did notice an uptick in intensity during the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway . "About halfway through the race, it was 'note to self; you can tell it's the Chase because it was caution after caution after caution," Sadler said afterward. "People were tense, eager, frustrated, nervous. A lot of different things going on with drivers right now ... trying to make it to the second (round). "I think people are giving each other less room. Restarts are crazy in the back." They were crazy up front, too. The race, which kicked off a seven-race, two-round elimination playoff for the series, saw the caution flag fly a track record 12 times. More than one-fourth of the race (64 laps) was run under the yellow. Yes, there was even a brief (5 min., 34 sec.) red-flag period. Erik Jones , the top seed and regular-season leader in race wins, got crossed up while racing with Ty Dillon and both the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota and the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet ended up in the wall. RELATED: See the wreck the caught two title contenders Each is now outside eighth place in points with two races to try and improve their standing; only the top eight (with the exception of a Chase race winner that might be 9th-12th ) advance to the second round. Not surprisingly, Jones wasn't particularly pleased with the early ending to his night and said later that the aggressive driving does cause one to approach the race differently. "Yeah, it makes me try to stay out of trouble," he said. "I didn't want to have something like that happen. ... You try to play defense some. I was for sure." Of course, there was the matter of a reconfigured track that sports new asphalt and distinctly different turns. That, too, played a role in the difficulties for some. And that was to be expected, said Brendan Gaughan , driver of the No. 62 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing . "It didn't seem like it was any more aggressive than normal," Gaughan said after finishing sixth. "It's a very narrow race track here right now. That Turn 3 is treacherous, man. There's no grip on the entry, there's no width on the entry. It's a treacherous, treacherous place at the moment. ... "It's still Kentucky. I love it." The fight to advance into the next round began early, but it's not the only battle going on and Saturday night's race brought some of that to light. In addition to the driver's championship, there's an owners title at stake and a couple of teams didn’t forget about that. At the end of the regular season, the No. 2 team of RCR was atop the owners' standings, followed by the No. 18 of Joe Gibbs Racing , the No. 1 of JRM with Sadler behind the wheel, and the No. 22 of Team Penske . Chevy, Toyota, Chevy and Ford. You think those folks aren't paying close attention? RCR brought in Sam Hornish Jr . to keep the No. 2 team in the hunt; Penske handed the reins to Sprint Cup driver Ryan Blaney . Sadler got the win, but a solid fifth-place run by Matt Tifft put the JGR No. 18 atop the owners' standings. JRM (No. 1) now sits second thanks to the victory while Hornish, who finished fourth, kept the RCR entry in the mix -- it's now third. Blaney did not fare badly but the way it all shook out left him third on the track and the team now fifth in the owners' battle. Dover, a fast, unforgiving mile of concrete, is up next. Some folks will be looking to rebound, some looking to continue to ride a hot start. If Kentucky was any indication, they better hope they can just hang on.
Edwards rallies to sixth-place finish at Loudon after penalty
RELATED: Results " Chase Grid " Standings WATCH: Edwards receives penalty LOUDON, N.H. – Coors Light Pole Award winner Carl Edwards hovered in and around the top five for nearly all of Sunday's Bad Boy Off Road 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway but nearly had his afternoon derailed due to a costly penalty with less than 40 laps remaining. During the fourth caution of the day, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver came to pit road and incurred a commitment line violation, sinking his running position all the way back to 19th on the ensuing restart on Lap 268. For a minute there, it certainly appeared Edwards would be fighting for Chase for the Sprint Cup survival next week at Dover International Speedway in the final race of the Round of 16. But Edwards rallied hard over the final 30-plus laps to salvage a sixth-place finish and now holds a 16-point cushion over the cutoff line. He'll need to avoid similar gaffes moving forward -- though he doesn't necessarily agree he even made a gaffe -- and realizes he may have gotten away with one here. "I gotta see the replay, but I was pretty sure I made it onto pit road. I felt pretty comfortable," Edwards said on pit road after the race. "I don't know about that (penalty), but we still recovered well. I think we could've been top three or four because we got off sequence, but as it turned out to finish sixth with that penalty is pretty much a gift. My guys didn't quit, I'm proud of them. "Now we head to Dover with a little bit of a point cushion, and Dover is one of my favorite race tracks, one of my best tracks and this team should have won this race in the spring so hopefully we can go there and lock ourselves into the next round. … Anything can happen, but there's no better race for us to be a cutoff race." Following the race, Edwards' crew chief Dave Rogers had a discussion with NASCAR officials to get clarity on the penalty. "Yeah, NASCAR showed me the notes, and the notes that they had were all four tires below the orange box and our right-rear (tire) touched it," Rogers told NASCAR.com. "So it's one of those deals where we knew it was close, and we didn't intentionally drive over the box, first of all. It was a last-minute call to pit. We thought the rule was all four on or below and it wasn't. The rule's all four under, so hence the penalty." Edwards' teammate Denny Hamlin also was victim to a pit road penalty on the same stop, as an errant tire got away from his No. 11 Toyota crew. Hamlin, however, was not as fortunate as Edwards and finished 15th. The 2016 Daytona 500 winner declined post-race interviews and sits seventh on the Chase Grid, still higher than Edwards despite the worse finish. "Unfortunately, we had a pit road penalty; two stops in the end that got us really far behind and just got kind of shuffled out of the mix on a couple restarts and finished about five to 10 spots worse than we should have, but still alive," said Hamlin's crew chief Mike Wheeler. "Hit the restart button and try again. Dover is a decent track for Denny. He hasn't had a win there yet, but has had some good runs and hopefully we can have another good run there."
Elliott finds the wall after contact with Gordon
Chase Elliott , a Chase bubble driver, gets the worst of contact between Jeff Gordon and Ryan Newman in Turn 1.