EditorsNote: adds quotes
Kevin Harvick tracked down Kyle Busch over the final 20 laps Sunday, bumped Busch out of the way for the lead with seven laps to go and went on to win the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at Loudon, N.H.
The victory was the series-leading sixth of the season for the Stewart-Haas Racing driver.
“I didn’t know if I was going to get there at the end, and I felt like that was best opportunity — do what I had to do to win,” Harvick said of the bump on Busch. “I didn’t want to wreck him, but I didn’t want to waste a lot of time behind him.
“I knew I was running out of laps, and I didn’t know if I was going to get to him again. I felt like I needed to get him up out of the groove, so I got him up out of the groove.”
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Busch, a five-time winner this season and the series points leader, finished second at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, 1.8 seconds back.
“That’s racing,” Busch said of the bump. “I’m not sure he had to do it, but he did. How you race is how you get raced, so it’s fine.”
Busch added, “We weren’t the best car on the long run. The SHR cars were all really good today. They were fast. It was going to be hard to hold them off.”
Aric Almirola of Stewart-Haas finished third.
Furniture Row Racing’s Martin Truex Jr., a four-time winner in 2018, finished fourth while Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports was fifth.
The race was supposed to start at 1 p.m. ET, but rain made that impossible. At 4:24, the green flag dropped and pole-sitter Kurt Busch, driving the No. 41 Ford of Stewart-Haas Racing, led the field to the start/finish line.
Kurt Busch, looking to win for the first time in 54 races, led the first 37 laps but lost the advantage when he pitted for the series-mandated competition caution. Taking over the lead was Ricky Stenhouse Jr. of Roush Fenway Racing.
Stenhouse led 11 laps before he was passed by Truex, who went unchallenged en route to winning the first 75-lap stage. Truex had a clean stop between stages and began the second stage in front.
Elliott, who has eight runner-up finishes but no wins in his Cup career, moved past Truex to take the lead on Lap 132 and give Chevrolet a rare appearance at the front of a race field.
Elliott led the next 19 laps and held off Kurt Busch to get his first stage victory — and Chevy’s third — of the season.
Kurt Busch edged Elliott coming out of the pits during the caution between stages to hold the lead once again. Busch spent the next 55 laps in control, but with 95 laps to go, Almirola moved to Busch’s rear bumper. On lap 212, Almirola moved past his Stewart-Haas teammate and into the lead.
With 74 laps to go, the leaders headed to the pits for the final time under green. On his out-lap, Almirola was passed by teammate Harvick, but with 69 to go, Almirola came back and recaptured the lead.
With 45 laps to go, the caution flag waved.
Kyle Busch jumped two spots with a quick pit stop and took his first lead of the day, but that merely set up the final excitement and Harvick’s winning pass.
—Field Level Media