Here is a recap of the winners and losers from the NASCAR weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway:
Expectations were sky-high for Kasey Kahne when he joined Hendrick Motorsports. And after a slow start to year, which saw him as low as 32nd in points, it appeared those expectations were unattainable. However, the once listing ship has been righted, as Kahne has two wins and 10 top 10 finishes in the last 13 races. This not only puts him in excellent shape to make the Chase, but also be a factor once the playoffs begin.
TNT's midseason coverage, mercifully, has come to an end. Fans will no longer be subjected to a seemingly endless run of commercials, in-race promos and anything else the network could use as an excuse to do the one thing they were supposed to do, broadcast the race and keep viewers up-to-date on what was transpiring on the track. Something TNT seemed to have forgotten or, couldn't be bothered to do.
With the exception of the Joe Gibbs cars of Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin, passing was a challenge for most drivers. That's evident when you look at the finishing order, as 11 of the top 12 finishes all started the race 12th or better. The only exception: Brad Keselowski, who rolled off 22nd but diced his way through traffic to claim the fifth spot.
The No. 11 Team
The experts will tell you the key to any successful relationship is communication. Sunday that element was missing as mixed signals between Denny Hamlin and Darian Grubb cost them their third victory of 2012. A victory which would have moved Hamlin into a tie with Tony Stewart and Brad Keselowski for most wins on the year, and more importantly, the No. 1 seed in the Chase.
The only driver who may have been able to keep pace with Hamlin -- at least to some extent -- was his JGR teammate, Kyle Busch. His demise involved a pit road speeding penalty, two slow pit stops and an untimely yellow flag, which trapped him a lap down. When everything was said and done, Busch left Loudon with a 16th-place finish, masking just how good of a car he had underneath him.
Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards
It's well-documented how both Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards need at least one and probably two victories to make the Chase. That didn't happen for either this past weekend.
Instead, one of their chief rivals scored the win and put a firm grip on one of the two coveted wildcard spots -- increasing the likelihood that either Gordon or Edwards -- if not both -- will be nonfactors come the Chase.