Wreck involves several Chase drivers; Keselowski spins, suffers minor damage

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Joe Gibbs Racing’s bad day at New Hampshire Motor Speedway just got a whole lot worse.

While battling for eighth position, Matt Kenseth got loose and bounced off Jamie McMurray on Lap 194. As Kenseth tried to gain control, teammate Kyle Busch couldn’t slow down in time and ran into the back of Kenseth’s Toyota Camry.

While Kenseth’s car suffered minor damage, such was not the case for Busch, whose front end and hood was crumpled up like an accordion.

Kasey Kahne’s car also suffered significant front end damage when he was unable to avoid Busch’s suddenly slowing car.

And yet another Chase driver, Ryan Newman, also was caught up in the mishap, but his damage was not as pronounced as Busch’s or Kahne’s.

Kenseth, Newman, Kahne and Busch are all in the 16-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Just a few laps before that, Denny Hamlin was caught up in a wreck involving David Ragan, Cole Whitt and Martin Truex Jr.

Hamlin’s Camry suffered extensive front and right front side damage; he managed to limp it to the garage, but it appears his day is done.

Prior to that wreck, Hamlin had a mechanical failure of the fuel-filler receptacle, which put him back four laps off the lead lap as repairs were made.

“You just can’t have any mistakes in this three-race deal, from the driver, crew and the team,” Hamlin told ESPN. “No one made any mistakes, we just had a mechanical failure that hasn’t bit us for a while.

“It’s frustrating, to say the least.”

Then on lap 197, Chase points leader Brad Keselowski spun around, incurring moderate damage to the left rear of his Ford Fusion.

Keselowski went to pit road twice for repairs and went back on the racetrack.

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Marvin Musquin’s Indy win may have come too late

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Marvin Musquin answered one question at Indianapolis last week, but the biggest one may well plague him for the next six weeks.

Musquin has won a battle, but can he win the war?

After standing on the podium in eight of the first 10 races, Musquin finally showed the field he was capable of winning in Indy when he grabbed the holeshot and led every lap on the way to Victory Lane. He was never seriously challenged and it was the Musquin that Supercross fans expected to see all season.

It was a long time coming. Musquin must have felt like victory was just around the corner after finishing second in the overall standings in Anaheim II’s Triple Crown race. He was third in the first Main that night and second in the last two Mains.

As it turned out, that single race defined his season until last week. Musquin stood on the podium all night, but he finished two spots behind Cooper Webb in the first Main and was one spot back in the second. It was only as time ran out that he was able to beat Webb by a single spot in the third Main. If Musquin had won either of the first two Mains, he would have had the overall victory – denying Webb his first career win in the process.

Webb’s Anaheim win revitalized the rider and gave him the confidence to rattle off four more wins in the next seven races.

Meanwhile, Musquin scored podium finishes in the next seven races, making him almost perfect. In another season, a record like that would have been enough to give him a comfortable points lead. In 2019, he sit 14 markers out of first, which is the points’ equivalent of the difference between first and 11th in one race. In other words, Webb cannot lose the points lead at Seattle unless he finishes outside the top 10 while his teammate wins.

Looking at the numbers another way the scenario is not quite as hopeless. Musquin needs to shave only 2.3 points off Webb’s lead each week to win the championship. Three points separate first and second. Five points differentiates first from third, which is where Webb finished in Indianapolis. Webb is vulnerable as his 10th-place finish at Glendale and an eighth at San Diego attest.

Those bobbles came early and Webb seems to have forgotten how to make a mistake.

A third-place is Webb’s worst finish in the last six weeks and since Anaheim II when Musquin started his impressive string of podium finishes, Webb has recorded an average finish of 2.2. That came with a worst finish of eighth on an extremely muddy and heavy track in San Diego. Musquin has a worst finish of only sixth, but his average of 2.8 still lags behind Webb.

Worse still, since Anaheim II Musquin has finished behind Webb in every race except for the outlier of San Diego.

It is no longer a question of keeping pressure on Webb. Musquin cannot expect his teammate to make a mistake; he has to find a way to pass him on the track. If Webb adds only two points to his lead at Seattle, Musquin’s fate would no longer be in his hands. He would need to gain 3.2 points per race. With that scenario, Webb could finish one spot behind Musquin every week and still win the championship.