Busch slipped through smoke from a multicar crash on the backstretch that knocked out Martin Truex Jr.‘s run at a second straight victory and won in the No. 18 Toyota for the third time this season.
Busch, who won from the pole, put together a complete effort and joined Truex in the next round of the playoffs. The field is cut from 16 drivers to 12 following next week’s race at Dover International Speedway.
After winning the playoff opener at Chicagoland, Truex led 112 laps early at New Hampshire until he was caught up in a wreck that ended his shot at a sixth win.
The playoff standings were shaken up in the wake of massive wreck that sent playoff drivers Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick to the garage. Harvick’s car was hit by Austin Dillon on the last lap of the second stage. Harvick spun and smoke billowed over the track, leaving drivers almost blinded to the traffic ahead. Kurt Busch, Harvick’s teammate at Stewart-Haas Racing, slammed into Harvick. Truex backed up to straighten himself out and instead suffered left-rear damage when he smacked another car.
Kurt Busch, the Daytona 500 champion, will likely have to win next week at Dover to advance to the second round.
“It’s all in. We’ll go there with everything we’ve got like we have been,” He said.
Harvick, the 2014 series champion, had accumulated enough playoff points that one DNF shouldn’t cost him a spot in the top 12.
“I couldn’t really tell where I was with all the smoke and everything that was happening, but just got hit from behind and spun out,” he said.
Playoff drivers filled the top five spots: Kyle Larson finished second, followed by Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski and Truex.
“We had damage and had to fight from the back of the pack the rest of the day,” Truex said.
Kyle Busch, who had his shot at victory at Chicagoland end because of pit-road miscues, survived the wreckage and took his customary victory bow toward the cheering fans.
“That was pretty intense,” Busch said. “That was some ‘Days of Thunder’ stuff over there. You couldn’t see anything.”