Bowyer Rockets Up Standings

SPIN CYCLE: Denny Hamlin goes for a spin after contact with Carl Edwards Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H. (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images Photo)

SPIN CYCLE: Denny Hamlin goes for a spin after contact with Carl Edwards Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H. (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images Photo)

LOUDON, N.H. — After the first Chase race, Denny Hamlin leads Clint Bowyer by 35 points, Kevin Harvick by 45, Kyle Busch by 62 and Jeff Gordon by 75.

Bowyer, the last seed in the Chase, picked up a remarkable 10 positions after winning Sunday’s Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

– The only controversy of note at NHMS involved a conspiracy between the odd couple of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge from Penske Racing and the Gunselman Racing Toyota No. 64, a classic start-and-park operation.

On Friday, Kurt Busch wanted to try a mock qualifying run without depleting his pre-race allotment of tires, so the Penske team borrowed a set from Gunselman, whose limited track time policy meant they would not have been used otherwise.

NASCAR detected the irregularity and parked both cars for the first 15 minutes of Saturday practice, but their starting positions were not affected.

– Brad Keselowski in the No. 12 Penske/AAA Dodge ripped off a record 133.572-mile-per-hour qualifying lap to take the pole for the Sylvania 300, edging Clint Bowyer for the honor.

– Michael McDowell blew an engine and hit the wall early in Friday’s Sprint Cup practice session, but the Cash America Dodge came back to make the Sylvania 300 field on time. Bobby Labonte used the champion’s provisional for the second week in a row with the Phoenix Construction Chevrolet, leaving Johnny Sauter and Jeff Green as non-qualifiers for the 43-car field.

– Clint Bowyer led 177 of the 300 laps in the Sylvania 300. Prior to Sunday, he had led only 163 laps all year.

– Bowyer also spent the least time on pit road, his four visits consuming only 2 minutes, 19 seconds according to NASCAR statistics. Tony Stewart took seven seconds longer, with the results suggesting that a second or two more with the fuel can might have paid dividends.

– During Friday’s K&N Pro Series East race, Mike Hillman, Jr., crew chief for Camping World Truck Series leader Todd Bodine, was hit on pit road during a caution flag pit stop as he prepared to change a tire on Zach Germain’s Toyota.

Hillman was transported to a local hospital with a broken ankle, but he was back on the box Saturday. Bodine had an uneventful day, finishing just where he started in ninth place, but retaining a comfortable 257-point lead over Aric Almirola in the CWTS standings.

– It wasn’t the Yard of Bricks, but New Hampshire Motor Speedway debuted its new Granite Stripe start/finish line with this past weekend’s NASCAR events at the 1.058-mile oval. The 2-foot-wide strip of New Hampshire granite stretches across the 65-foot wide frontstretch and is patterned after Indy’s famed Yard of Bricks.

– Saturday’s American-Canadian Tour Invitational was again a success. Extended from 50 to 60 laps and with an expanded field for its second running, the crate-late-model event on the big track started slowly with a crash at the green flag and another multi-car melee with two laps complete, but then ran 58 straight green-flag laps to the checkered flag. Winner Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. came from 27th in the handicapped lineup to take the lead with six laps to go and defeat Wayne Helliwell, Jr. by one second.

– Ryan Truex’s K&N Pro Series East win came on his parents’ 33rd wedding anniversary. Ryan’s father, Martin Truex, Sr., scored his only NASCAR victory at NHMS in 1994, while older brother Martin, Jr. has two wins in the East Series. Friday’s event ran an extra 11 laps to achieve a green-white-checkered finish.

– Ryan Newman’s Whelen Modified Tour win Saturday not only gave him a sweep of the 2010 NHMS season, but left him batting 1.000 in the open-wheel division in 2010. His only other start in Bono Manion’s No. 7ny Tom Baldwin tribute car produced a victory at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway last month.