Happy Place: Matt Kenseth Rolls To Sprint Cup New Hampshire 301 Victory At NHMS

Matt Kenseth celebrates after winning the Sprint Cup Series New Hampshire 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Sunday (Photo: Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Matt Kenseth celebrates after winning the Sprint Cup Series New Hampshire 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Sunday (Photo: Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

LOUDON, N.H. – For the first 13 years of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career, Loudon, N.H. hardly ranked high on Matt Kenseth’s list of happy locales to visit for events.

In 26 starts for Roush Fenway Racing from 2000 to 2012 Kenseth had no victories and only five top-five finishes and 12 top-10 finishes at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

But these days the cozy confines of the tight 1.058-mile Loudon oval proves a place that regularly puts a smile on the face of Kenseth, who joined the Joe Gibbs Racing stable before the 2013 season.

On Sunday Kenseth proved once again that New Hampshire Motor Speedway is long in the rear view as a house of horrors.

Kenseth rallied from a deep starting spot and rolled to victory in the Sprint Cup Series New Hampshire 301 Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

“It always feels good to win, but today especially,” Kenseth said. “Friday I didn’t do a good job qualifying. We had to start in the middle of the pack. Our first run wasn’t great, we adjusted and made some great changes for run two and really I felt like we had probably the best car all day, it just took forever to get there. … It definitely feels good to get the win.”

Tony Stewart was second and Middletown native Joey Logano third.

It was the second consecutive victory at the track for Kenseth – who won last September at the track in the second Chase for the Championship playoff event – and his third victory overall in last six starts in Loudon.

In seven races at Loudon since moving to Joe Gibbs Racing Kenseth has an average finish of 6.1 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and has finished sixth or better five times, with only one finish worse than ninth.

“I was looking forward to coming here because we’ve ran really well here since I’ve came to Joe Gibbs Racing,” Kenseth said. “It’s been a real turnaround for me. This used to be one of my worst places and now I feel like it’s one of my better places.”

Said crew chief Jason Ratcliff: “It seems like this is one of our better tracks,” Kenseth’s crew chief Jason Ratcliff said. “We’ve had some good runs here in the last three years and we always look forward to coming here. It’s been a track that’s not only good for the team, but obviously good for Matt.”

For Joe Gibbs Racing it proved an important victory. The team had gone six events without winning, which stood out as a huge number considering Joe Gibbs Racing cars won seven of the first 12 events of the season. The last win for the team was Kenseth’s on May 15 at Dover International Speedway. Kyle Busch (three wins), Carl Edwards (two wins) and Denny Hamlin (one win) have the other victories this year for the team.

“Now I’m thinking about going and trying to win the Brickyard,” Kenseth said of the next event on the schedule at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “It’s been an up and down couple months for sure. But last week I felt like if all the start were aligned we could have won at [Kentucky Motor Speedway], if everything went just for right for us. To be able to come here and win obviously feels good. I’m just thinking about moving on to [Indianapolis] and hopefully being in the mix.”

Kenseth started 18th in the field. He was up to fifth by lap 75. He went by Martin Truex Jr. for the lead on lap 258 and held that spot until a round of pit stops under caution. Hamlin stayed out and assumed the lead, but Kenseth went back by for the lead for good on lap 271.

Busch led the most laps (133) Sunday in Loudon, but faded to eighth place late. Hamlin led five laps and was ninth. Edwards was 20th. All four Gibbs teams are already unofficially qualified for the Chase for the Championship playoff.

“That’s what it’s all about,” team owner Joe Gibbs said “… I think the key is, as you continue to work during the year, is trying to keep the performance and try to point to the playoffs. When you get to the playoffs you never know what’s going to happen. … You take your best shot. What you want to do is hopefully continue to improve as the year goes on and that’s kind of our goal.”

More than an hour after the conclusion of the race NASCAR officials announced that Kenseth’s car failed the postrace Laser Inspection System and will be further examined this week at the NASCAR R&D Center in Concord, N.C.

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Comments

  1. Ilias tha Illest says:

    …And he failed post-race inspection. If this was a local track, he would be given a DQ immediately, score 0 points and not be given credit for the win. The way it should be. Instead, he’ll be given a joke of a 15-25 point penalty which means nothing because he has 2 wins already, and maybe a small fine (which will be paid for by the team), and will still be given credit for the win. Truly, one of the worst policies for handling cheaters in all of motorsports.

  2. Iliad you are absolutely right, could be one of the reasons for so many empty seats kinda sad to see

  3. Crazy in NY says:

    I’m dying to know what a ‘laser inspection” is. Was the car .020″ wide or….??
    With NASCAR the big stories now a days are after the race or off track completely.
    As I say ..it’s now racing entertainment. You want racing? Go watch Rocco and Teddy at Waterford.

  4. WaaaaaaH says:

    Am I hearing the same whiney BS that I used to hear.about the Carroll family at The Park? Shut your hole!!!

  5. I am more surprised with the empty seats on Sunday, the place was half full. Sorry, but just my opinion that this business model of all these young kids getting/buying these rides are killing the sport. Joey Lagoon is from CT, but the only time he raced in CT was in a Busch North Car at Thompson, I have no driver to root for. Gone are the days when talented drivers like Spencer, Bodines, Park, McLaughin were provided opportunity in the Busch and Truck series; with those days gone so is NASCAR ‘ fan base.

  6. Andy Boright says:

    The story of the weekend was “disappointment”. The winner of the Cup race was illegal, but kept the win (the only constant in Cup racing).

    The crowds were poor all weekend, yet that fact somehow managed to escape the eye of the media.

    The racing was lackluster all weekend (save for the modifieds), and that too managed to go unnoticed by most of the media.

    Based on my experience on Saturday at NHMS before the races even started, I’ll be surprised if the September crowd is as big as this weekends. The price gouging and misleading pricing really screws over the fan at NHMS.

  7. I am watching the Truck race at Eldora and part of me thinks this is a good idea, and the Truck or Infinity Series should have more races at smaller tracks, it would benefit the entire sport and support tracks that support Nascar. But I get pissed thinking this race at Eldora really only benefits Eldora and Stewart. Is Eldora a Nascar sanctioned track?

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