LOUDON, NH (WSFA) - A little more than a month ago, there was serious doubt Kyle Busch would make NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup. However, Busch put those many of those doubts to rest after winning the 5 Hour Energy 301 Sunday at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Busch's victory at New Hampshire is his third win in four races. It is also the sixth win for Joe Gibbs Racing this year.
"There ain't no give up on this 18 team," Busch said to his crew after crossing the line.
Defending New Hampshire winner Brad Keslowski came in second place, but led the most laps in a race for the first time this year. He led a total of 101 laps, mostly during the middle of the race.
Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top 5 respectively.
Busch's teammate Carl Edwards started the race on the pole and jumped to an early lead, until Busch took over the lead on lap 20.
After an early caution, Brad Keslowski used two fresh tires to move past Busch on lap. Keslowski would dominate the through the midpoint of the race. Kevin Harvick would eventually pass Keslowski on lap 194, after a bad restart by Keslowski.
On lap 244, several drivers, including then leader Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch, reporter possible tire troubles.The issue turned out to be oil on turn two.
Busch made a green flag pit stop after reporting the problem, taking on four fresh tires. However, Busch fell a lap down in the process.
The most dramatic moment of the race came when Busch's car caught up to Kevin Harvick and Brad Keslowski, who were both fighting for the lead on lap 251. Busch pulled in front of Keslowski's car on the high side of the track, then dropped to the low line to pull in front of Harvick. The daring move put Busch back on the lead lap just in time, as caution was called to clean the oil on turn two.
"Coming onto pit road, I thought I had a tire going down. And there was oil on the track.," Busch said. "Luckily I got back to the lead lap before the yellow came out. Man, that saved us right there."
The race restarted on lap 254 and Busch pulled away from the group. From there, it looked as though Busch would dominate the remainder of the race.
However, with about 10 laps to go, Keslowski began to close the gap. However, Busch held on to win after a caution on the last lap officially ended the race.
"I was just hoping to catch a break, and didn't catch one," Keslowski said.
The race was relatively clean with only a few cautions and no major wrecks.
The most significant caution happened on lap 97 when Alex Bowman came into pit road for a flat tire. Immediately after Bowman left his pit box, his car erupted into flames. Bowman quickly exited the car as the flames engulfed the engine compartment. Bowman was not injured and eventually re-entered the race. He finished 42nd.
The win is the third in four races by Kyle Busch, who also won at Sonoma in June and Kentucky last Saturday. Busch's win also continues a remarkable comeback for the driver, who missed the first eleven races due to a broken leg at Daytona.
"This is such an awesome win, such an awesome comeback," Busch said. "It is so much fun to win these races and to win with this group of guys."
Busch jumped two spots forward to 33rd in the Chase for the Sprint Cup standings. NASCAR has ruled that Busch needs to qualify in the top 30 in points to make the 16 driver playoff. Busch is less than 50 points out of the 30th place with seven regular season races to go.
"We've got to keep doing our deal," Busch said. "Every week is keeps getting better and better."
The next race is the Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. The race will be Sunday, July at 2:30 p.m. CST. It will be broadcast on the NBC Sports Network.