Kevin Harvick won the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 on Sunday, his sixth win of the season, but there are other implications from the race as well. Here are the three biggest takeaways from Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway:
1. The Big 3 are as dominant as ever
As if you needed any other reminder of how dominant the Big 3 – Harvick, Kyle Busch, and Martin Truex Jr. – have been this season, Sunday was the perfect example. Not only did Harvick end up with his series-leading sixth win, but he did so by beating out … the other two members of this season's elite club. Harvick may have the temporary lead over the other two, but on any given Sunday, any of that trio is capable of winning. There's nothing to suggest these won't be three of the four drivers in the championship race in November, and they have to be the favorites to win as of today.
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2. Kyle Busch finally on the losing end of a battle
Kyle Busch has had several narrow victories this season (Bristol and Chicagoland come to mind), proving his skill and patience in the sport's most intense moments. But Sunday, he was finally on the other end of a close finish for seemingly the first time this year. Harvick bumped Busch out of the way at the end of the race in questionably tough racing, and while in the grand scheme of things one extra victory for these guys won't make much difference, close finishes will be an interesting point to follow for the rest of the regular season and into the playoffs.
3. A championship preview on the final laps?
Boy, wouldn't any NASCAR fan take those final laps from Sunday and move them to Homestead in November? It's not a 100 percent certainty that the Big 3 will all make it to the championship race, but it's darn near close to it. And while last season's finale between Truex and Busch was exciting, it wasn't necessarily the closest. Busch was always in the same picture as Truex, but compared to Sunday's race, both drivers didn't have a realistic shot to win. NASCAR, and its fans, should hope that the kind of close finish we saw Sunday between two of the Big 3 is the same thing we see with the title on the line.
Foxwoods Resort Casino 301
The full race results, from the Associated Press:
NASCAR Monster Energy Cup
Sunday At New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Loudon, N.H.
Lap length: 1.06 miles
(Start position in parentheses)
1. (14) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 301.
2. (3) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 301.
3. (13) Aric Almirola, Ford, 301.
4. (2) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 301.
5. (10) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 301.
6. (18) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 301.
7. (5) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 301.
8. (1) Kurt Busch, Ford, 301.
9. (19) Joey Logano, Ford, 301.
10. (21) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 301.
11. (8) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 301.
12. (20) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 301.
13. (4) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 301.
14. (11) William Byron, Chevrolet, 301.
15. (31) Matt Kenseth, Ford, 301.
16. (7) Erik Jones, Toyota, 301.
17. (12) Paul Menard, Ford, 301.
18. (22) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 301.
19. (26) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 301.
20. (24) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 300.
21. (17) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 300.
22. (9) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 300.
23. (25) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 300.
24. (27) Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 299.
25. (32) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 298.
26. (29) Michael McDowell, Ford, 298.
27. (33) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 298.
28. (28) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 298.
29. (30) David Ragan, Ford, 298.
30. (23) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 296.
31. (35) Kyle Weatherman, Chevrolet, 294.
32. (6) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 293.
33. (37) Blake Jones, Toyota, 289.
34. (36) BJ McLeod, Chevrolet, 267.
35. (15) Clint Bowyer, Ford, Accident, 255.
36. (16) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, Accident, 19.
37. (34) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, Accident, 13.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 110.49 mph.
Time of Race: 2 Hours, 52 Minutes, 56 Seconds. Margin of Victory: 1.877 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 7 for 31 laps.
Lead Changes: 10 among 7 drivers.
Lap Leaders: Kurt Busch 1-37; R. Stenhouse Jr. 38-48; M. Truex Jr. 49-131; C. Elliott 132-154; Kurt Busch 155-211; A. Almirola 212-228; K. Harvick 229-232; A. Almirola 233-257; K. Harvick 258; Kyle Busch 259-294; K. Harvick 295-301.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Kurt Busch 2 times for 94 laps; M. Truex Jr. 1 time for 83 laps; A. Almirola 2 times for 42 laps; Kyle Busch 1 time for 36 laps; C. Elliott 1 time for 23 laps; K. Harvick 3 times for 12 laps; R. Stenhouse Jr. 1 time for 11 laps.