Date: July 18, 2021
Event: Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 (Round 22 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon (1.058-mile oval)
Format: 301 laps, broken into three stages (75 laps/110 laps/116 laps)
Start/Finish: 12th / 6th (Running, completed 293 of 293 laps)
Point Standing: 10th (673 points, 201 out of first)
Note: Race reduced eight laps short of its scheduled 301-lap distance due to darkness.
Race Winner: Aric Almirola of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner: Ryan Blaney of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-75):
● Kevin Harvick started 12th and finished fourth, earning seven bonus points.
● The first six laps were run under green before a light rain moved over the track, causing the leaders to spin and bring out the caution on lap seven. An hour and 42-minute red flag period to dry the track followed.
● Lined up eighth for lap-24 restart, but dropped to 10th by the time the second caution came out on lap 32 for a single-car spin.
● Was seventh for lap-39 restart as some drivers chose to pit during the previous caution.
● Harvick put the No. 4 Busch Light Apple Ford Mustang into the top-five by lap 41.
● Passed Christopher Bell for fourth on lap 67.
● “Could use a little bit of rear grip. Take some tape off it (the grille) too,” said Harvick at the end of the stage.
● Pitted for four tires and fuel at the conclusion of stage. Made some tire pressure adjustments and removed tape from grille. Quick pit work gained Harvick three spots, positioning him in first place for the start of the second stage.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 76-185):
● Harvick started first and finished second, earning nine bonus points.
● Harvick positioned his No. 4 Busch Light Apple Ford Mustang in the outside lane for the restart and got a great jump on second-place Denny Hamlin.
● “Lacking rear grip, center (of the corner) out, as I run,” said Harvick on lap 122 as he continued to lead.
● Caution on lap 128 ended a 45-lap green flag run where Harvick was the sole leader.
● Crew chief Rodney Childers took advantage of the caution and brought Harvick to pit road for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment on lap 131.
● The No. 4 Busch Light Apple team kept Harvick in front, getting him off pit road in first place.
● Harvick chose the outside lane for the lap-136 restart and got another good jump on second-place Hamlin.
● Caution on lap 139 for a two-car spin off the backstretch. Harvick and Childers opted to stay out and keep their first-place standing.
● Race went back to green on lap 145 with Harvick again choosing the outside lane and getting the jump on second-place Hamlin.
● Brad Keselowski passed Harvick for the lead on lap 147.
● “Struggling with the back (of the car) taking off the first 20 laps,” said Harvick while holding steady in second on lap 177.
● Maintained second through the end of the stage and pitted for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment at the conclusion of the stage.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 186-293):
● Harvick started third and finished sixth.
● Harvick again positioned the No. 4 Busch Light Apple Ford Mustang in the outside lane for the restart.
● As Team Penske teammates Keselowski and Ryan Blaney battled for the lead, Harvick inched ever closer to the duo.
● After initially gaining on second-place Keselowski, Harvick started falling back a bit, with his Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) teammate Aric Almirola taking third from him on lap 218.
● “Still just lacking rear grip,” said Harvick while in fourth place on lap 219. “And I’ve lost my turn-in the middle of the corner.”
● Harvick made a scheduled, green flag pit stop on lap 250 for four tires and fuel.
● After pit stops cycled through by lap 275. Harvick was fifth.
● Joey Logano passed Harvick on lap 283, sending the Busch Light Apple Ford to sixth.
● Harvick held steady in sixth through the finish.
● Harvick earned his 15th top-10 of the season and his 22nd top-10 in 38 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at New Hampshire.
● Harvick’s 22 top-10s at New Hampshire are the most among active NASCAR Cup Series drivers.
● This was Harvick’s fourth straight top-10 at New Hampshire.
● Harvick led twice for a race-high 66 laps to increase his laps led total at New Hampshire to 831.
● Harvick has now led 11,246 laps since joining SHR in 2014. He has led 15,670 laps in his entire NASCAR Cup Series career.
● Almirola won the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 to score his third career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his first of the season and his first at New Hampshire. His margin over second-place Christopher Bell was .697 of a second.
● This was Ford’s 709th all-time NASCAR Cup Series victory and its fifth this season.
● This was Ford’s 17th NASCAR Cup Series victory at New Hampshire. The manufacturer won its first race at New Hampshire on July 10, 1994 with Ricky Rudd.
● This was Ford’s fourth straight win at New Hampshire and SHR is responsible for three of them. (Harvick won in July 2018 and July 2019.)
● There were six caution periods for a total of 47 laps.
● Only 15 of the 37 drivers in the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 finished on the lead lap.
● Hamlin remains the championship leader after New Hampshire with a 13-point advantage over second-place Kyle Larson.
The NASCAR Cup Series goes on a two-week summer break as broadcast partner NBC covers the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. It returns to action on Aug. 8 with the Go Bowling at The Glen road-course race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. It starts at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!