The Chase is on! New Hampshire liveblog

Hopefully my driver makes a great showing. I’m going to update this post from time-to-time with thoughts on the race. They’re just now completing opening ceremonies. And with the Lions down 21-0, there’s no point to switch to keep up on that.

John McCain spoke before the command to start engines (as he also addressed the drivers meeting earlier), but the command itself was given by a Sylvania suit.

14:30: Green flag’s in the air! Kyle Busch leads the first lap. Carl Edwards leads lap 4! But Bowyer looks to be on the move. Gilliland makes a nice save on lap 14 after Reutimann got into him, or we might have had our first yellow. They’re saying the 18 has a broken sway bar, so Kyle has to hang on until lap 35, when NASCAR will throw a competition yellow. Busch has lost 17 positions in 25 laps.

Lap 36 caution: Kyle Busch comes in early, but he’d likely restart at the tail end anyway. Edwards took two right-side tires and didn’t lose a spot. Busch is back in the pits to diagnose and fix that earlier problem, but he’ll restart two laps down. Joey Logano gets a pass-through for dragging equipment out of his pit box. Kyle Busch is shown running 43rd position and 10th in points thanks to his penalties. Now they’re saying Busch is only the one lap down that he was penalized, as he got out before the field lapped him again. But since he was penalized, Busch has to race to get his lap back; he won’t benefit from the lucky dog should he be the first a lap down.

On that last caution, Jeff Gordon lost a lot of spots because Robby Gordon made a sloppy stop in his pit. Carl is looking to put Kyle another lap down, and if he does, then Kyle will have had a bad day. Jimmie Johnson just took the lead about 70 laps in.

Caution, lap 83: Kyle Busch was involved in a wreck, so a bad day keeps getting worse for him.

After the restart, Earnhardt takes the lead so he can pick up five bonus points.

We’re over halfway now, and lots of drivers are pitting early. With the rain here in Coldwater, methinks I’ll have a pizza delivered. They just went through green flag pitstops, which means there’s only one stop left. Greg Biffle takes the lead at lap 176. Pizza has been ordered and will be here in an hour, probably by the closing laps.

Ike’s remnants are causing quite a bit of rain here today, even causing Portage police to issue an advisory for people to stay off the roads. Biffle, Johnson, Hamlin, Burton, and Edwards are top 5 with less than 90 to go. Caution just came out, so teams made what should be their final stops, and Johnson came out first.

Joe Nemechek blows a radiator and brings out a caution with 79 laps to go. Tony Stewart gets the free pass. Denny Hamlin pits from second position and will restart 18th, so not a good move for him. But then they’ve found out he had a cut tire, so actually a good move.

Matt Kenseth wrecked after Chad McCumbee got loose into him. NASCAR has red-flagged the race with 70 to go to clean up the frontstretch. That’s what happens when you run five-wide at New Hampshire.

Caution out with 34 to go. That should give several drivers a little leeway to make it to the end on fuel. Some of the people in back on the lead lap come in to top off and change tires. The last 30 laps should be a real treat.

And Biffle wins it! He passed Johnson after the last restart, and he picks up his first win since last year’s race at Kansas. Edwards takes the points lead, Johnson has an identical point total but is in second because of fewer wins. Biffle vaults to third in points, 30 points back. The chase is off to a great start, and to think we’ll have nine more races which should be full of intense action.

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