Loudon Update: Matt Kenseth uses two-tire stop to take lead

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Matt Kenseth is threatening for another Sprint Cup victory this afternoon and currently leads the Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Kenseth took over the lead following pit stops under yellow at Lap 123 after Denny Hamlin suffered a right front tire failure and slowed on the track. Taking two tires, Kenseth came out of pit road ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski, Tony Stewart, Juan Pablo Montoya and Carl Edwards, all of which also took two instead of four in a bid for track position. Kurt and Kyle Busch, the early pace setters in the race, opted for four tires and were put back in seventh and eighth place at the subsequent restart (Lap 129).

At halfway (Lap 150), Kenseth led Stewart by about a second, followed by Kurt Busch in third, Stewart in fourth, and Kyle Busch in fifth.

Keselowski started on pole, but was quickly overtaken by Kyle Busch, who would hold the point until Lap 62. At that point, Kurt Busch took advantage of his little brother getting loose coming off Turn 4 and took the lead down the front stretch.

Roughly ten laps later, the first run of green flag stops began and eventually ended with Kurt Busch still up front. A caution for debris at Lap 79 bunched up the field again, but Kurt Busch re-opened a gap between himself and the field upon the return of the green flag at Lap 83.

Joey Logano suffered a left-rear tire failure in the opening laps and hit the wall to bring out the first caution of the day. Shortly after the restart at Lap 9, Marcos Ambrose was spun by Kevin Harvick coming out of Turn 4 and was hit by Casey Mears on the frontstretch, bringing out the yellow again at Lap 14.

The Callaway Corvette GT3 is coming to America, in PWC

Photo: Callaway Competition USA
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Pirelli World Challenge has been in need of some good news from a car count standpoint early into this offseason, and receives it Monday with confirmation Callaway Competition will bring its GT3-spec homologated Corvette C7 GT3-R Stateside next season.

The withdrawal of the factory Cadillac Racing program after PWC’s season finale in Sonoma in September has opened the door for the factory-blessed Corvette C7 GT3-R to run in North America, because Cadillac’s ATS-V.R has been the lone GT3-spec car under the General Motors awning for the last three seasons, while the Callaway Corvette has raced only internationally.

Reeves Callaway has been on site at the tail end of the PWC season to survey the opportunity and now a deal has been struck for a factory effort to run next year, before the Callaway Corvette program becomes a customer effort in 2019. This follows the same timeline as Acura did with its new NSX GT3 this year to run it as a factory program in 2017 before shifting to customer efforts in 2018.

“Joining the Pirelli World Challenge has been a long term objective for Callaway Competition,” Callaway said in a release. “Now the field is a roll-call of the most capable sports cars from every country. To do well here, you must beat the best in the world. What better way to showcase our iconic American car?

“For 2018, we will run a Callaway factory team to give us the best chance of continuing the championship record the Corvette has achieved in international competition. For 2019, we will not race against our customers, but provide high-quality support to them in the tradition of other manufacturer customer racing support programs.”

“For several years fans have asked when they would see the Callaway Corvette GT3 run in the Pirelli World Challenge,” added Greg Gill, President and CEO of Pirelli World Challenge. “The wait is over and we are very pleased to announce the arrival of the Callaway Corvette GT3 for the 2018 season.”

The Callaway Competition USA Corvette C7 GT3-R will be unveiled and both full season drivers announced at the Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis on December 7 at the Pirelli World Challenge booth. Following the unveiling event, the car will be on display for the remainder of the trade show. Details of the presentation will be announced in the coming weeks.

Callaway’s confirmation comes amidst the likely drawdown of potentially nine or 10 cars that raced in PWC’s GT and GTA ranks either all season or most of it in 2017, among at least five manufacturers. That’s not to say those losses can’t be recouped elsewhere on the grid, over the next several months before the St. Petersburg season opener in March.

PWC will hold its annual state of the series and competitor meeting to finalize the next year’s plans at the PRI show as well.