Heading into New Hampshire, the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookies, especially those in the Chase, were looking for strong finishes, but all were left with disappointment at the conclusion of Sunday’s Bad Boy Off Road 300.
After almost spoiling the Chase party last weekend at Chicago, Ryan Blaney brought home the top rookie finish at New Hampshire with a 12th place finish, which is about where Blaney had been running throughout the day. Though Blaney and his team did not make the Chase, they still have the opportunity to run for race wins, but just came up short on Sunday afternoon.
“We didn’t start out like we wanted but the team worked hard and let us get better and be able to come away with a decent run,” Blaney said.
As for the top running rookie in the Chase, Chase Elliott, he looked to have another strong run going as he was running in the top-five and top-10 for much of the race. However, the late race cautions worked against Elliott and his team, as he fell out of the top-10 late in the going to finish 13th on the day. Despite the disappointing finish, Elliott holds a 16 point advantage over 13th place in points heading to next weekend’s Round of 16 elimination race at Dover.
After his disappointing finish, Elliott was a man of few words in his post-race comments, saying: “I had a good car and the cautions didn’t fall our way.”
The other rookie in the Chase, Chris Buescher, continued his postseason struggles on Sunday after finishing 30th. Buescher had his work cut out for him after the opening race at Chicago and his underdog team is now further in the hole after a rough day at New Hampshire. Buescher’s 30th place finish leaves him 30 points from the 12th and final transfer spot into the Round of 12 and in a must-win situation for next week at Dover. While his team certainly has the odds stacked against them, stranger things have certainly happened before.
“We’re just trying to get speed out of all of our cars. It was a tough day. We tried really hard with our Love’s Fusion. We put a lot of effort into it and we’ll just keep digging and trying to get it better. We just have to keep plugging along,” said Buescher.
“Dover is a really good race track. I like that place a lot. We had a good finish for us there earlier this season, so we’ll go there and see what we can do to get a win and try to move on to the second round of the Chase. We’re in it and to be a part of the Chase is a pretty big deal this year.”
“We’re trying to get everything better. It’s about improving our cars at Front Row Motorsports and getting them to where we can consistently run better. We’ve had a handful of really bright spots this year and we just have to be a little more consistent with those. How those will come we don’t know yet. If we had the answer, we would already be ahead of that.”
The other two rookies in the field, Brian Scott and Jeffrey Earnhardt, scored finishes of 31st and 37th, respectively.