5 Lessons Learned at Loudon
By Jared Turner
Kyle Busch Is On A Roll
Three wins in the past four races have positioned Kyle Busch in terrific position to move into the top 30 in points and earn a berth in the 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup – despite missing the season’s first 11 Sprint Cup Series points races while recovering from multiple injuries suffered in a crash in the XFINITY Series season opener at Daytona. With seven races remaining until the Chase cutoff, Busch is up to 33rd in the standings, just 58 points behind 30th-place David Gilliland. Barring a disaster of epic proportions, Busch will be among the 16 drivers who make up the Chase when the regular season concludes at Richmond in September.
The Penske Cars Have Found Speed
For the second race in a row, the Team Penske cars of Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano ran near the front all day and battled for the win, ultimately coming up short but nevertheless showing considerable strength from their No. 2 and No. 22 Ford Fusions, respectively. After going through a bit of rough patch after a strong start to the 2015 season, the entire Team Penske organization seems to have flipped a proverbial switch and unearthed some major speed. The timing, of course, couldn’t be much better as the Chase for the Sprint Cup is just seven races away.
‘Bad Brad’ Was In A Mood
After leading three times for a race-high 100 laps out front before ultimately finishing second to Kyle Busch in Sunday’s 5-Hour Energy 300, Brad Keselowski was admittedly not it in the best of moods. Atypically terse in his post-race interviews, the Team Penske driver seemed fatigued from the atypically sultry New Hampshire temperatures and frustrated with the fact that for the second consecutive week he had a race-winning car but came up short in his quest to reach Victory Lane. Asked after the race if he was wiped out and frustrated, the 2012 Sprint Cup Series champion and new dad replied succinctly, “I’m ready to go home.”
Denny Hamlin, Austin Dillon Aren’t Pals
Contact late in Saturday’s XFINITY Series race at New Hampshire rekindled old tensions between Denny Austin Dillon and Denny Hamlin, two drivers who have never exactly been the best of friends. Dillon, who finished second to Hamlin after being nudged out of the way by the Joe Gibbs Racing driver late in the race, hinted that he might settle the score with Hamlin in the near future. “He won’t be ready,” a steaming Dillon said. Hamlin, who ran into Dillon on Lap 179 of the 200-lap race, brushed off the retaliation talk. “Well, we both have got race cars,” Hamlin said.
Hendrick Boys Are Missing Speed
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished fifth at New Hampshire but as one of only two Hendrick Motorsports drivers in the top 18, expressed concern about the speed of the organization’s cars, relative to the competition. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch has won three of the past four races, and the JGR organization seems to be the one to beat – at least for now. “I’m concerned that we don’t have speed,” said Earnhardt. “We ran fifth, but I didn’t like the car at all. My teammates didn’t have a lot of great speed. So as a whole, we need to really work hard, try to come here a little stronger next time.”
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