This past weekend, New Hampshire Motor Speedway hosted their annual Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 race weekend, the most anticipated racing event in New England featuring NASCAR’s highest divisions all in one weekend. Saturday’s racing action was highlighted by the ROXOR 200, the 200-lap feature race for the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
Cole Custer and Christopher Bell started on the front row for the event, with Bell pulling away with the early lead. By lap 115, Bell had stretched his lead to nearly a full straightaway over his competitors.
Bell dominated the race, leading 186 of 200 laps before picking up the checkered flag. He continues to display dominance at the Magic Mile, capturing 3 wins in his last 4 starts at the track.
Cole Custer, Justin Allgaier, Tyler Reddick and Paul Menard also impressed on Saturday, rounding out the top five.
The 24-year-old is on the fast track to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with his impressive resume and growing experience piloting the #20 machine for Joe Gibbs Racing. Bell has 5 wins with the team so far in 2019.
Bell, who is also the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (now the Gander Outdoors Truck Series) champion, continues to be grateful for his experiences. “They provide me with fast race cars…I’m just really grateful to be here with Joe Gibbs Racing,” he exlaimed in his Victory Lane speech. This is Bell’s fifth win of the 2019 season and he’s certainly on the right to becoming the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion.’
On Sunday, the track hosted the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ Foxwoods Resort Casino 301. With just 7 races remaining until the NASCAR playoffs begin, this weekend was pivotal for those drivers that are on the outside looking in.
Throughout the course of the weekend, hot temperatures (it was the hottest race weekend in NHMS history) made for a slick track and many frontrunners fell victim to the track during both practice and qualifying. 5 drivers were forced to go to backup cars, including Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman, William Byron and Alex Bowman, who was actually forced into his teammate Jimmie Johnson’s backup car after blowing up his primary car in qualifying and making hard impact with the wall in his backup car during practice.
There were many “hometown” drivers in the field on Sunday, including the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion, Joey Logano. This race weekend marked the ten year anniversary of Joey’s first career Cup Series win at NHMS. NHMS is also home to MENCS rookie Ryan Preece and Martin Truex, Jr., who both grew up racing modifieds at the track.
Fort Kent, Maine native Austin Theriault and Andy Seuss, from Hampstead, New Hampshire, also made their first career Cup Series starts on Sunday afternoon. Both drivers were behind the wheel for Rick Ware Racing and were the “talk of the town” amongst race fans throughout the course of the weekend. Seuss went on to finish 28th (RWR’s top finish to date) and Austin Theriault battled mechanical issues and was forced to retire from the race early, resulting in a 35th place finish.
Fan favorite, Chase Elliott, also struggled, falling victim to mechanical issues on lap 110 which resulted in the driver going multiple laps down. His Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jimmie Johnson, also faced mechanical issues as he lost power steering on lap 145, resulting in the driver losing multiple laps and being pushed back underneath the cutoff line for the upcoming playoffs.
Kyle Busch dominated the early laps of the race, but he made contact with the turn 2 wall on lap 214 and was never able to dial it back in after the impact. Kyle took home a top ten finish, but it wasn’t the finish that the #18 team was hoping for after such a strong performance all weekend.
Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin battled it out for the win in the closing laps of the race, putting on a spectacle for the fans. Harvick pulled away following the final caution, but Hamlin was able to reel him in over the course of the closing laps as he used lap traffic to his advantage.
The two drivers were neck & neck coming into the final lap and Hamlin pulled alongside Harvick coming into turn 2, giving Harvick a nudge. The two drivers continued to battle it out tooth & nail for position and Harvick returned the favor to Hamlin coming out of turn 4. It was a dog fight to the finish, but Harvick was able to hold off Hamlin for the victory.
Erik Jones, Ryan Blaney and Matt DiBenedetto rounded out the top five and the top-5 finish was another career best for DiBenedetto, making this his second top five finish of the 2019 season.
As surprising as it may be, the victory was not only Harvick’s first victory of the 2019 season, it was also the first victory for Stewart HAAS Racing in 2019. In his post-race press conference in the Media Center, Harvick openly admitted that there were only 2 options on Sunday: He was either going home on the wrecker or coming home with the trophy.
While celebrating on the frontstretch, Harvick thanked the fans for sticking it out over the course of the hot weekend and reminisced on his past victories in New England, referencing his Oxford 250 victory back in 2007. “I just stood on the brakes…I waited until he came to me and I just put a wheel on him,” he explained his thoughts on the last lap to the crowd before hopping back into his car to celebrate in Victory Lane with his team and his son, Keelan.
This is Harvick’s fourth career win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, which ties Jeff Burton’s record at the track. He has also won three out of his last five races at the speedway and looks to continue this success in the future.
Both Kevin Harvick and Christopher Bell continue to blow away the competition at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and it will be exciting to see if both drivers can excel at the track for years to come!
Neither driver will be returning to the track in 2019, but New Hampshire Motor Speedway will be hosting their second annual Full Throttle Fall Weekend on Friday, September 20th and Saturday, September 21st. That weekend, you can catch the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, the NASCAR Pinty’s Series and the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.
See you there!
Our thoughts are also with the Kaulig Racing family and Nick Harrison’s family and friends. Godspeed, Nick. You will be missed by many.