Kurt Busch hopes to revisit early career success this weekend at Loudon

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New Hampshire Motor Speedway was one of Kurt Busch’s go-to tracks early in his career.

He won his first race ever there – in a Camping World Series truck in 2000 – and then went on to earn three NASCAR Cup wins (back-to-back races in 2004 and a third triumph in 2008).

“When you’re able to go to a track where you’ve had that kind of success, it just gives you confidence,” Busch said. “Because of the wins and everything, it’s a place we go to where I feel like I especially know what it takes from the car and the driver to be successful.”

But since his 2008 Cup win, Busch has struggled more often than had success at the 1.058-mile flat track in bucolic Loudon, N.H.

In the 12 NASCAR Cup races at NHMS since his last top five there (third in summer 2010) through this race last summer, Busch’s best showing was 10th (twice). On the flip side, he also recorded six finishes of 20th or worse in that same stretch.

But things may be turning around for Busch, who races in Sunday’s Overton’s 301 at NHMS. In his most recent visit to the track, last fall’s playoff race, Busch finished fifth – his best finish since that third-place showing in 2010.

Busch looks forward to continuing his recent success at New Hampshire, and if it means tight racing and the kind of fender banging that’s typical at New Hampshire, Busch is ready to get it on.

Usually, you’re trying to keep your eye on the main prize, which is victory lane at the end of the day,” Busch said. “If you have a run-in early on in the race, that guy is going to be trying to find you or you’re looking over your shoulder.

“So if you can sort of hit a reset button and right a mistake, you do that, but not at the expense of taking yourself out of position for the win.”

Overall, Busch, 39, is tied for most wins (three) among active drivers at New Hampshire with Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman.

In addition, Busch also has two runner-ups, seven top threes, eight top fives and 13 top 10s. He has also led 541 laps in 32 starts at NHMS. His average start is 11.8, average finish is 15.8 and his lap completion rate is 96 percent.

Thus far this season, Busch has one win – the season-opening Daytona 500 – as well as two top-fives and eight top-10s in the first 18 races on the NASCAR Cup schedule.

Busch comes into Sunday’s race ranked 15th in the NASCAR Cup standings. He’s struggled in his last two starts (Daytona, 28th, crash; Kentucky, 30th, engine) and has three DNFs in his last six starts (Dover, 37th, crash).

The key to success at New Hampshire will be to stay alert for wrecks unfolding in front of you, stay out of trouble and especially stay on top in late restarts.

“It seems like it has changed a little bit toward the end of the race with a lot of aggressive restarts,” Busch said. “That is when you gain positions, or it’s easy to lose positions.

“Everybody is out there elbows out, pushing hard, and you hope to not have trouble.”

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Justin Allgaier, Cole Custer tied at top of Xfinity playoff standings

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Justin Allgaier and Cole Custer are tied for the top spot in the Xfinity playoff standings after the playoff opener at Kentucky Speedway.

Each driver has 2,057 points.

Allgaier finished third after bouncing back from losing a tire on Lap 19 and going two laps down. He was two laps down for 27 laps and one lap down for 30 before getting back on the lead lap.

Custer, who finished fifth, won the first two stages of the race, earning two playoff points in the process.

The top five in points are Allgaier, Custer, Elliott Sadler (-2), Daniel Hemric (-5) and William Byron (-6).

Click here for the points standings.

Results from Xfinity race at Kentucky Speedway

Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images
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Tyler Reddick scored his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series win, leading a 1-2 finish for Chip Ganassi Racing on Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway.

Reddick beat teammate Brennan Poole by 14.5 seconds in the playoff opener.

Reddick is the seventh different winner in the last seven series races. He led twice for 66 laps. Reddick had not led any laps until Saturday night.

Playoff contender Justin Allgaier rallied from two laps down after a right front tire went down early in the 200-lap race to finish third. Ryan Preece placed fourth. Rookie Cole Custer, who won both stages, finished fifth.

Click here for race results

Tyler Reddick wins playoff opener at Kentucky for first career Xfinity victory

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Tyler Reddick, a part-time driver for Chip Ganassi Racing, led 66 laps to win the Xfinity Series playoff opener at Kentucky Speedway.

In his rookie year in the series, Reddick earned the win in his 15th start in the No. 42 Chevrolet.

The 21-year-old driver beat teammate Brennan Poole, Justin Allgaier, Ryan Preece and Cole Custer.

“I don’t know if it was necessarily me making a statement, it’s just Chip Ganassi Racing making a statement,” Reddick told NBCSN. “(Crew chief) Mike Shiplett has brought me from ground zero all the way to here. All the guys at Ganassi have gone above and beyond in helping me become a better driver. To be here today is surreal.”

Reddick, who had not led a lap before Saturday night, took the lead for the first time on Lap 126 of the 200-lap race.

Reddick is the fourth Xfinity driver to get his first win this season.

Saturday’s win comes after it was announced on Sept. 14 that Reddick would join JR Motorsports full-time in 2018.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Cole Custer

STAGE 2 WINNER: Cole Custer

MORE: Race results

MORE: Points standings

WHO HAD A GOOD NIGHT: Justin Allgaier bounced back from losing a tire and going two laps down to finish third. He leaves Kentucky tied with Cole Custer at the top of the playoff standings. … Brennan Poole’s runner-up finish is a career-best result in 77 starts … Ryan Preece has finished in the top four in all three of his starts for Joe Gibbs Racing. … Ryan Reed finished 10th, ending an eight-race streak without a top 10.

WHO HAD A BAD NIGHT: Sam Hornish Jr. finished 31st, nine laps down after contact with Brandon Jones on Lap 53 caused him to hit the wall at the exit of Turn 2, forcing him to pit for repairs. … William Byron finished 18th, two laps down after he was forced to pit on Lap 101 for a loose wheel.

NOTABLE: The No. 2 of Ben Kennedy failed rear heights in post-race inspection. … Reddick is the seventh different driver to win in the last seven races this season. … Reddick is the seventh different winner in the last eight races at Kentucky.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “I was about the color of my car (red) there for a little bit.” – Justin Allgaier after finishing third following a rebound from going two laps down early in the race.

NEXT: Drive Sober 200 at Dover International Speedway at 3 p.m. ET on Sept. 30 on NBCSN.

Social Roundup: Sights from first Martinsville night race

Marty Snider
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The wait is over.

Night racing at Martinsville Speedway is now a reality.

After tests and practice sessions, the half-mile track in Virginia hosted the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 and its qualifying races Saturday night for the NASCAR Late Model Series, which was won by Timothy Peters.

In attendance at the race were Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin and Daniel Suarez, as well as NBCSN’s Marty Snider, who watched his son Myatt compete in the race.

Here’s a look at some of the sights and sounds from the historic night for NASCAR’s oldest track.