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.

Danica says goodbye: ‘Definitely not a great ending’ but ‘I’m for sure grateful’

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INDIANAPOLIS – Danica Patrick’s final racing news conference didn’t go quite as planned, but at least she didn’t lose her sense of humor about it.

“Is that like the Oscars when they close the show out?” Patrick joked when her opening address was drowned out by the midrace broadcast of Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 in the media center. “Take my mic away. I’ll leave. I promise. I don’t really want to be here because I’m pretty sad, but all right. I guess I’ll stop there.”

That was about as lighthearted as it got, though, for the most accomplished female driver in racing history after the final start of her career. That naturally made for some reflection, too.

“I will say that I’m for sure very grateful for everybody,” she said. “It still was a lot of great moments this month. A lot of great moments this year.”

Patrick was the first woman to lead both the Indianapolis 500 (in her 2005 debut) and the Daytona 500 (in 2013 when she also was the first female to qualify on pole position in NACAR history).

But she couldn’t bookend that with similarly memorable finishes. After crashing out of her final two Cup races in the November 2017 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway and the 2018 Daytona 500, Indy concluded the same way.

“Definitely not a great ending,” she said. “But I kind of said before I came here that it could be a complete disaster, as in not in the ballpark at all. And look silly, then people may remember that. And if I win, people will remember that.

“Probably anything in between might just be a little part of the big story. So I kind of feel like that’s how it is. I’m appreciative for all the fans, for GoDaddy, for Ed Carpenter Racing, for IndyCar. Today was a tough day. A little bit of it was OK. A lot of it was just a typical drive.”

Beforehand, Patrick seemed relaxed while smiling and laughing outside her car with a tight circle of close friends and family that included her parents and boyfriend Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers quarterback.

“For sure, I was definitely nervous,” she said about her first Indy 500 start in seven years. “I found myself most of the time on the grid being confused what part of prerace we were in. I was like, ‘I remember this,’ and ‘Where are the Taps?’ and ‘When is the anthem?’ but I had all my people around me, so I was in good spirits.”

And with that, she bid adieu.

“Thank you guys,” she said. “Thank you for everything. I’ll miss you. Most of the time. Maybe you’ll miss me just a little. Thanks, guys.”