Matt Kenseth, driving the #20 Dollar General Toyota, took the checkers for the 19th Annual Sylvania 300 at the one mile track in New Hampshire. Kenseth won the race after leader Kevin Harvick, who dominated the race leading 216 laps, ran out of fuel with three laps remaining.
Kenseth has 36 career victories in 572 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. He has five wins in the 2015 season and secures his position in the Chase along with his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin, who finished second in today’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
“You had to be there to win it,” said Kenseth in victory lane. “These Dollar General guys did a great job today, we had to pit that one time and I was like ugh, but Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) was ‘like it’s fine, relax,’ we made it to the front faster than we thought.”
“I was giving Kevin (Harvick) everything I got, I thought he was going to beat us, he has a better car today,” Kenseth said about taking the lead. “I guess he was a little short on fuel, this is unbelievable, this feels unbelievable.”
Unlike Harvick, Kenseth wasn’t in fuel conservation mode during the final laps of the race. The #20 Dollar General Toyota pitted with about 60 laps from the finish and didn’t have to be concerned about fuel was able to press the #4, giving Kenseth his second fuel mileage victory of the season, he won at Pocono after the leaders ran out of fuel.
JGR has 13 NASCAR Sprint Cup season victories with four straight and has two drivers already advancing in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Chase driver took eight of the top 10 spots, Hamlin finished second, followed by Joey Logano, Greg Biffle, and Carl Edwards, with six through tenth as follows; Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Martin Truex Jr., Kasey Kahne, and Ryan Newman.
Beside Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., needed to pit for fuel in closing laps going down a lap with only one race left before four drivers will be cut. Harvick takes a big hit after a poor finish at Chicago in the first race of the Chase when he finished 42nd, and today going for the win which would automatically lock him into the Chase, Harvick ran out of fuel either by miscalculation or being pressured by Kenseth.
Earnhardt Jr., also dropped in the points after stopping for fuel with two laps to go prior to the final race at Dover International Speedway before four drivers will be cut from contention. Another Chase driver Kyle Busch had problems after knocking into the wall; Busch took the #18 Pedigree Toyota to the garage for repairs, and finished 38 laps down in 37th.
Currently on the outside looking into a Chase position is Ky. Busch one point behind Earnhardt Jr., in 13th; Paul Menard tied with Busch in 14th; Harvick, 2014 defending champion, 23 points behind the cutoff in 15th; and Clint Bowyer 39 points in 16th, unless the appeal process finds in Bowyer’s favor, 25 points will be returned.
Dover International Speedway will be the final Chase race before four drivers will be eliminated. The AAA 400 will be held Sunday, Oct. 4 with coverage on NBCSP beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET. Qualifying will be held Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET with coverage on NBCSP.