Kyle Busch earned every penny of his pay in winning the 5-Hour Energy 301 at Louodn. But he may not have been the biggest winner of the weekend. Here’s a NASCAR recap from New Hampshire.
Win: Joe Gibbs
People forget how big a risk is what for Joe Gibbs to reshuffle three of his four crew chiefs prior to the 2015 Sprint Cup season. All four of his drivers responded. Three are assured a Chase spot. Kyle Busch might be the best threat to win a Sprint Cup title if he can qualify.
While some teams have struggled to add a new team to the mix, JGR seems to have founds its groove at an ideal time. They’ve won on every kind of track except road courses (not an issue) and super speedways (where they were impressive last year.) This might be the year Toyota takes home the one title eluding them in the Sprint Cup racing: a Sprint Cup.
Lose: Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman, Paul Menard, Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer
The five drivers listed above are with 38 points of each other and 13th-17th place. If Busch gets in the top 30 in points, and this is starting to feel more and more likely, two of those five drivers are out of the Chase. If someone like AJ Allmendinger wins at Watkins Glenn or someone in the Tony Stewart/Greg Biffle/ Sam Hornish Jr. mix get any semblance of mojo back, that number could easily increase to three or four of the group being on the outside looking in on Chase season. The pressure for this group to win one of the next seven races just increased dramatically.
Draw: Penkse Racing
Brad Keselwoski led the most laps. Joey Logano started on the front row. Both are secure in the Chase, earning good points at events and remaining threats to win a Sprint Cup title.
On the other hand, the last Team Penske win was in March. We’re not at four months without a trip to Victory Lane. With Gibbs on fire, Hendrick still Hendrick, plus Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch hanging around, there’s reason for Penkse fans to feel a little bit of extra heat as the 2015 Sprint Cup season heads into August.
NASCAR heads to Indianapolis for the Brickyard 400 next week. Enjoy the race prep and insert a random catchphrase here.