LOUDON, N.H. — In what seemed like an encore performance of his victory in last weekend’s Geico 400 at Chicagoland Speedway, Matt Kenseth held off Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch to win Sunday’s Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the second race in NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship.
“It’s been a great start for JGR,’’ Kenseth said. “I just feel like the luckiest guy in the world to be standing here.’’
Kenseth, making the 500th career start of his NASCAR career, led four times for a race-high 106 laps, including the last 53 in a row, and steered his No. 20 Toyota to Victory Lane.
“This guy, he’s doing an incredible job this year,’’ said Jason Ratcliffe, Kenseth’s crew chief. “It’s been an incredible season for us. I know winning in his 500th career start was a big deal for him. It was a big deal for us.’’
Busch, who entered the race second in the Chase points behind his JGR teammate, was runner-up to Kenseth for the second week in a row.
“I fought hard today and the 20 wound up outrunning us this weekend for some reason and we’re not sure why,’’ Busch said. “Sometimes you get those magical cars but, hopefully, there’s a couple of those left for us this year.’’
In recording his first career triumph at NHMS, Kenseth became the 12th different driver in the last 12 Sprint Cup races at the 1.058-mile oval to triumph.
In going 2 for 2 in Chase races so far, Kenseth now has a series-leading seven wins. The victory gave him a 14-point lead over Busch in the Chase points (2,111-2,097) which bolstered his chances of winning his second NASCAR championship since 2003 and first under the present format.
Roush Fenway Racing’s Greg Biffle finished third in the No. 16 Ford, five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson was fourth, and his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr., finished one spot back to round out the top five.