The Sprint Cup Series headed to Loudon, New Hampshire, to compete in the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 for the 17th race of the season.
Patrick Carpentier started from the pole position for the first time in his short Sprint Cup career. Bobby Labonte would start on the outside of the front row for his best starting spot of the season as well.
Carpentier would lead the first handful of laps until Kevin Harvick mounted a charge and took the lead on lap 5. Harvick would continue to lead the race under green until Earnhardt Jr. passed him on lap 44.
The race continued under the green flag, which caused the first round of pit stops to occur around lap 65. After the pit stops cycled through, Harvick came out as the leader with Earnhardt back in fourth.
Harvick continued to lead when the first caution flag of the race came out on lap 86 for a spin by Dario Franchitti. Most of the leaders came to pit road for service with Harvick holding serve coming out first.
Harvick would not be the leader on the restart though as Casey Mears and Brian Vickers stayed out under the caution. Mears would lead the race until lap 140 when the second caution flag flew for debris. This was a huge break for Mears and Vickers who would have had to make a green flag stop in about ten laps if the caution flag did not come out. The leaders would come down pit road with Tony Stewart coming out as the leader.
Stewart led the race when the third caution came out for a spin by Joe Nemechek on lap 152. The top 17 cars would stay out but the rest of the cars on the lead lap came to pit road for fuel.
Stewart continued to lead when the fourth caution came out for a blown engine by A.J. Allmendinger on lap 205. The leaders would once again hit pit road with Stewart holding the lead.
Shortly after the race was restarted, the caution flag flew for a spin by Aric Almirola on lap 217. This would prove to be the turning point in the race as some of the cars at the rear of the field decided to come down pit road for fuel. Most of the leaders decided to stay out for track position, which proved to be so valuable.
Stewart would continue to lead, as the race stayed green until just 30 laps remained. The caution was for a crash involving Earnhardt Jr., Jamie McMurray, and David Ragan. Earnhardt was trying to get to pit road when McMurray hit him from behind.
The caution would force the leaders to come down pit road for fuel because they could not make it to the end without stopping. This would allow the drivers who stopped on the previous caution to stay out and gain tons of track position.
The top eight drivers stayed out under the caution with Denny Hamlin starting back in ninth on the restart. Hamlin was the first car off pit road with Stewart restarting back in the pack after making a two-tire stop. The top eight drivers on the restart included Kurt Busch, Michael Waltrip, J.J. Yeley, Martin Truex, Elliott Sadler, Reed Sorenson, Casey Mears, and Bobby Labonte.
Busch would take the restart as the leader and continued to lead as the caution came out for a crash by Sam Hornish and Clint Bowyer with just 22 laps left. After the caution came out, another incident happened involving Juan Pablo Montoya and Kyle Busch. Montoya felt that Busch was at fault for the incident and admitted to spinning him intentionally. In my opinion, Busch rubbed up against Montoya after the caution came out which Montoya did not appreciate. I believe that Montoya should not have spun Busch out though because he could have taken out other drivers in the process.
This caution also decided the race as it began to rain before the restart came out. The field came down pit road with Kurt Busch as the leader. The race would soon be called with just under 20 laps remaining making the race official. Busch would get credit with the victory by using pit strategy to his advantage.
The top ten were Kurt Busch, Waltrip, Yeley, Truex, Sadler, Sorenson, Mears, Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, and Bobby Labonte. Some notable finishes were Jeff Gordon in 11th, Jeff Burton in 12th, Stewart in 13th, Harvick in 14th, Matt Kenseth in 18th, Earnhardt Jr. in 23rd, Kyle Busch in 24th, and Montoya in 25th position.
The top twelve in point are Kyle Busch, Burton, Earnhardt Jr., Edwards, Johnson, Gordon, Hamlin, Greg Biffle, Stewart, Kasey Kahne, Harvick, and Bowyer. Kenseth is just eight points behind 12th and Truex is just 64 points out of 12th position.
New Hampshire is now in the history books and we can all look forward to a great fourth of July weekend in Daytona.
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