NASCAR driver Matt Kenseth celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday in Loudon, N.H. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)
LOUDON, N.H. — Matt Kenseth made it 2-for-2 in the Chase, holding off teammate Kyle Busch to win Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Kenseth followed his win in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship opener at Chicagoland with his series-high seventh victory of the season. Kenseth made his 500th career start and maintained his points lead as the series shifts to Dover.
Kenseth and Busch made it a 1-2 finish for Joe Gibbs Racing for the second straight week and helped the organization win for the fourth time in the last five Cup races.
Chase drivers filled six of the top 10 spots. Greg Biffle was third and Jimmie Johnson fourth. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was sixth and Carl Edwards ninth.
Kenseth joins Biffle (2008) and Tony Stewart (2011) as the only drivers to win the first two Chase races. Stewart went on to win the title.
Kenseth won for the first time at New Hampshire and moves on in the No. 20 Toyota to Dover, where he’s a two-time winner. He led 29 laps there earlier this year before an engine failure ended his day.
“For me to win at Loudon, it’s more than a stretch, more than a dream,” Kenseth said. “This is probably one of my worst places. This just shows you how good this team is.”
JGR, with Busch, in the past has dominated the regular season, but dropped off considerably once the Chase began. Now they’ve carried over their success into the Chase and are a credible 1-2 threat to give Toyota its first Sprint Cup title.
“There’s somebody faster so it doesn’t matter how fast I am,” Busch said. ”
JGR has won five of the last seven races dating to Busch’s win at Watkins Glen in August. Kenseth won at Bristol, Busch took Atlanta and Kenseth won the last two.
Kenseth has obliterated his season best for wins. His previous high was five in 2002 and Kenseth won only once in 2003 when he won the Cup championship.
While NASCAR has been smacked with scandal, Kenseth has quietly gone under the radar doing what he does best: winning races. He has 31 wins in 500 starts.
“It’s been a great start for JGR,” Kenseth said. “I just feel like the luckiest guy in the world to be standing here.”
Chase drivers took spots 13-17: Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman and Clint Bowyer. Kevin Harvick was 20th and Kasey Kahne slammed the inside wall with 48 laps left and was 37th.
Kenseth took the lead from Bowyer with 92 laps left. Martin Truex Jr., whose future is in limbo after NAPA dropped its sponsorship of Michael Waltrip Racing in the wake of the NASCAR scandal at Richmond, led a race-high 98 laps.
Jamie McMurray was the highest non-Chase finisher in fifth place.