LOUDON, N.H. — Sunday’s Overton’s 301 might be the highlight of NASCAR weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, but the real action happens the day before.
NASCAR’s Whelen Modified Series, Xfinity Series and K&N Pro Series East all are on the docket Saturday, with notable drivers competing in each event. The modified race truly is the fan favorite here, but each event brings its own challenges and excitement.
Here are your up-to-date results and recaps from each race:
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour: Eastern Propane & Oil 100
Distance: 100 laps, 105.8 miles
Winner: Bobby Santos (Franklin, Mass.)
Rest of top five: Ryan Preece, Dave Sapienza, Brendon Bock, Chase Dowling
Recap: This was a tale of of two races. The first 50 laps featured Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Ryan Newman and Ryan Preece exchanging the lead, and was packed plenty of action, highlighted by a big wreck on Lap 20 that claimed Ron Silk, Patrick Emerling and Timmy Solomito. Things got even more interesting, though, in the second half.
Preece and Newman played cat-and-mouse for most of laps 50 through 75, but Doug Coby and Bobby Santos joined with 20 laps to go to make it a four-horse race. With two laps remaining, Preece held a narrow lead over Santos, Coby and Newman, and seemed destined for victory. But Newman and Coby collided on Turn 4, sending the race to caution.
On the restart, the 31-year old Santos surged past Preece and coasted to victory lane. In the end, it was all about Preece’s worn tires and Santos’ move to the bottom of the track.
“I moved down there and we just started catching the leaders,” Santos said. “I knew if we got by Ryan that he wasn’t going to come back around us. … I just found something down there.”
The victory gave Santos his second career win at NHMS.
NASCAR Xfinity Series: Overton’s 200
Distance: 200 laps, 211.6 miles
Winner: Kyle Busch
Rest of top five: Ryan Preece, William Byron, Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski
Recap: Kyle Busch hasn’t reached victory lane on the Cup series this season, but he’s had no such trouble in Xfinity.
Busch led 77 laps and prevailed in Saturday’s Overton’s 200, taking his third Xfinity victory of the season. He wasn’t the only full-time Cup driver who ran well, as Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski and Ty Dillon all finished in the top 10. Keselowski in particular looked strong, as the driver of the No. 22 led a race-high 102 laps.
Just 12 laps in, rain sent the race under the red flag. Larson led at the time, but shortly after the restart, Keselowski surged to a lead he wouldn’t relinquish until he picked up a pit road penalty late in Stage 3.
As strong as the Cup drivers looked, though, it was Busch’s JGR teammate Ryan Preece who might’ve been the most impressive. The 26-year-old finished second in Stage 1 and fourth in Stage 2, ultimately crossing the checkered runner-up to Busch.
Busch won the race by a margin of 10.425 seconds. It’s his 89th career Xfinity Series victory and sixth at New Hampshire.
NASCAR K&N Pro Series East: United Site Services 70
Distance: 70 laps, 74.06 miles
Winner: Todd Gilliland
Rest of top five: Chase Purdy, Ronnie Bassett Jr., Harrison Burton, Sheldon Creed
Recap: Todd Gilliland’s second victory of the 2017 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season was impressive, to say the least.
The 17-year-old driver prevailed over second-place Chase Purdy in the United Site Services 70 by a whopping 7.558 seconds, and his distance over third-place Ronnie Bassett nearly tripled that.
Purdy actually started on the pole, and looked strong early. But a caution on Lap 5 gave Gilliland a chance to pounce on restart, an opportunity he seized. The K&N race at New Hampshire is a “really special event,” Gilliland said after the race, but one he might not have won if not for the VHT compound applied to the track earlier in the week.
“It was a lot of fun for me,” Gilliland said. “I thought I could really drive it as hard as I could, and I felt that really paid off for this race. … I was really able to maintain grip coming out of turns.”
The son of veteran NASCAR driver David Gilliland, Todd now has 14 combined career wins in the K&N Pro Series East and West. The scary part is, he’s only made 27 starts.
Succeeding at such a high level in two opposite regions surely isn’t easy. But Gilliland has shown he not only has the talent, but also the work ethic necessary to make it happen.
Thumbnail photo via Jerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports Images