With two wins in his pocket heading into Sunday’s Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Brad Keselowski was already in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, but it was this third win of 2020 that came in the sort of dominating style the championship contender hoped would show his team’s readiness to challenge for the season title.
Keselowski, 36, led a race best 184 of the 301 laps around the “Magic Mile” and held off runner-up Denny Hamlin by 1.647-seconds to hoist his 33rd career NASCAR Cup Series trophy and mark the fifth consecutive season he’s had at least three wins.
“We’ve had a lot of great races this year with the 2-car, but we just hadn’t really gone out and dominated a race, you know,” Keselowski said. “I was talking with (crew chief) Jeremy Bullins and we were like maybe that’s what we need to get to the next level. We’re right there. We need to just go and dominate a race and that’s what today was for us.
“I’m really proud of my team and the effort they gave today and great race car. Thank you.”
Although Keselowski’s No. 2 Team Penske Ford certainly topped all the important statistics, Hamlin and his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota kept him honest for most of the day. The two accounted for 18 of the race’s 23 lead changes, with Keselowski ultimately passing Hamlin and holding the point for the race’s final 81 caution-free laps.
“We just kind of were second there to the two (Keselowski),” the five-race winner Hamlin conceded. “We could really do well on restarts and we were going back-and-forth. Wow, that was some really, really good short track racing there. Hopefully, the fans liked what they saw there with me and the two (Keselowski) for most of the day.
“Some great side-by-side racing. We treated each other fair and it’s good that we got one-two out of it.”
Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. finished third, followed by Keselowski’s teammate Joey Logano and the season’s championship leader Kevin Harvick. Matt DiBenedetto, Aric Almirola, rookie Cole Custer, Chase Elliott and rookie Tyler Reddick rounded out the top 10.
It marked Almirola’s series-best ninth consecutive top-10 finish. And it was the second time in the last four races that at least two rookies finished inside the top 10.
Harvick’s fifth-place finish was good enough to hold onto an 81-point advantage over second place Keselowski in the series driver standings.
Jimmie Johnson finished 12th to keep his playoff hopes alive in the seven-time champion’s final full-time season in the series. The result represented a huge rally on the day for Johnson, who was involved in an incident with Clint Bowyer early in the race. He crept closer to the all-important top 16 in the standings that will represent the playoff field.
Johnson trails 16th place William Byron — his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, by 25 points. Reddick is 15 points behind Byron with only six races remaining to decide the playoff challengers.
Reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch suffered more bad luck in what’s been a frustrating season for his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team. Busch’s car had a tire go down only 15 laps into the race — while he was running among the top five – and it put his car hard into the wall.
THE FRATERNAL ORDER OF THE GO FAST
None of our players will be celebrating with this weekly award! Nope not a single player had selected Blazingly Bad Brad Keselowski this week. So once again I will have to stow this award back into the closet til next weekend’s doubleheader at Michigan!
THE MOVERS AND THE SHAKERS
After the checkered flag flew and the scores were tabulated for Loudon, the biggest scorer of the weekend is Bernie The Bay Area Bandit. La Bandita put all her marbles into the marble sack of The Delivernator. Even though Denny Hamlin did not win the race at Loudon, he still delivered the biggest payday to La Bandita, a whopping 54 points!
Not doing too bad at the end of the day was the unlikely duo of Jim, aka Chiefy, and Amber The Extremely Lucky Cheddar Head. Both players were all over MTJ this week and it paid off very handsomely. Martin Truex, Jr. did an excellent job by delivering 46 points to both of these players.
Meanwhile, Carlton The Doorman had a very productive day in The Granite State. Although he wasn’t mowing down and scarfing up any “Lobsta”, he nevertheless cut a deal for 40 points from his man, Freaky Fast Kevin Harvick.
Edie The Las Vegas Super Star didn’t knock anybody dead with her performance at Loudon, but she did scoop up 28 much needed points added to her collection pot as the Sun set in New England.
Rounding out the top five weekly scorers is the Father-Son duo of Leon Your Most Humble Sheriff and Jeremy The Coach. Each players was cheering on Alex Bowman The Showman. Bowman did not set the race track on fire, but he did put in a journeyman’s performance and rewarded these two with 22 points.
The top three quarters of the scoring pylon exchanged positions as “the lobsta” was being hoisted high over head by Kes. But there were three players, the bottom three players on the scoring pylon, who remained in their previous places, by name they are The Coach, The Cookie Mom, and Your Most Humble Sheriff.
A quartet of players including Carlton The Doorman, Jim, aka Chiefy, Snoopy Dawn, as well as Dan The Numbers Cruncher all transitioned two (2) spots on the leaderboard. The Doorman and Chiefy climbed up two places to rest now in 3rd and 4th places, respectively. However, Snoopy and The Numbers Dude didn’t fare so will, dropping two places to now sit in 5th and 6th places, respectively.
Amber The Extremely Lucky Cheddar Head, Carole, aka Rudy, Bernie The Bay Area Bandit, and Edie The Las Vegas Super Star all moved next door from their previous stations. The Cheddar Head and La Bandito each stepped up one position to reside in 1st and 7th, respectively. However, Rudy and The Vegas Super Star stumbled and fell one place to sit in 2nd and 8th, respectively.
STRAIGHT FROM THE CRAPPER
I hate to report this but our former scoring leader, Carole, aka Rudy, was only able to gather up a minuscule one (1) point this week! For her Loudon effort she is solely awarded The Crappiest Pick of The Week award!
For the second week in a row Jeremy The Coach retreats back to his familiar digs of our lavish Outhouse! The Coach maintains a comfortable 21 point gap from his nearest threat, The Cookie Mom! If you listen very carefully you can here The Coach singing “I am gonna be somebody”! (The acoustics of the newly redecorated Outhouse is second to none!)
Next weekend NASCAR rolls into the Irish Hills of Michigan, more precisely Brooklyn, MI.
TIL NEXT. TIME, PULL YOUR BELTS TIGHT AND LET’S GO RACIN’!