LOUDON, N.H. (WWLP) – Kevin Harvick punched his ticket to the next round of the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship chase after winning the Bad Boy Off Road 300 on Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. This was Harvick’s second Sprint Cup win at the Magic Mile. His last cup victory at Loudon came 10 years ago.
Harvick made the most of a late race restart and led only eight laps on his way to victory lane. He hoisted the 18 lb. lobster as part of the traditional Loudon winner’s celebration. Ironically this is National Lobster Day; declared after a vote in the U.S. Senate during the summer. In his post-race news conference, Harvick’s Crew Chief Rodney Childers told 22News about how the long green flag run in the beginning affected their pit strategy after the first caution: “Well, I figured it would go pretty long there at the beginning, and I thought our car was really good on the long run yesterday and I thought that would work to our advantage, and it did in a way. He was able to drive his way up through there a good ways. But we got to the point where the car was kind of going away and it wasn’t turning the way it needed to. I think the racetrack almost came to us a little bit. The car actually ended up getting loose later on. But overall, it was a smooth day. I’ll be honest with you; not only is the Chase stressful and this format stressful, but racing here is stressful. I used to hate coming here, and then we won here with Brian a few years back, and I’ve loved it ever since, especially coming here with him. It makes it a lot more fun. But you never know what the right thing is. We stayed out a few years ago, and Joey pitted and put four tires on and drove by all of us like we were sitting still. Sometimes you win it by staying out and sometimes you win it by putting tires on, and we talked about it the other day, and we thought tires were the way to go, and then I stayed out and it didn’t look like it was going the way I wanted it to, and I thought I gave it away. It really came down to being in the right spot at the right time and him making it happen on the restart.”
Kevin Harvick told 22News about his confidence level coming to the Magic Mile considering how he’s done at Loudon in the past : “I feel like we can win at any racetrack. I know the Toyotas have run well. We’ve run well. I think it’s just a matter of who puts together a full day and doesn’t make mistakes. This has been a really good racetrack for us. We performed well in the spring. Obviously last year we performed well. So it’s just a matter of putting the day together, and really today was one of those days where everything went good. Everybody performed. All the pit calls and the pit stops and the restarts and everything that happened, they all went good. You know that’s not usually something that you can say happened on a particular day and usually when it goes that way you’ll have a chance to win and today we did. It’s just hard to put these things together and like Rodney said, we’ve had the performance in our race cars. We’ve just got to keep doing what we’re doing.”
Martin Truex looked like he might have back to back wins. Truex led 141 laps, nearly half of the 300 lap distance, and the most of any driver in the event. He finished seventh. Matt Kenseth came up short in his drive to be the first to win three straight cup races at NHMS. Kenseth led 105 laps but was passed by Harvick for the win. Danica Patrick led nine laps and finished 18th on the lead lap. The top five included Kenseth 2nd, Kyle Busch 3rd, Brad Keselowski 4th, and Kurt Busch 5th.
Loudon race day was complete with the usual amount of star power. Cheap Trick performed the traditional pre-race concert. The band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year. Former New England Patriots offensive lineman Matt Light was the honorary pace car driver.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase moves to the Dover International Speedway in Delaware next week. After next Sunday’s race, the bottom four drivers will be eliminated from the current 16 car chase field. Martin Truex and Kevin Harvick are locked in to the Chase Round of 12.