This first race of the second half of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season is in the books, with Denny Hamlin scoring a huge victory in the Overton’s 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
1. Denny Hamlin
It’s hard to believe that coming into New Hampshire, none of the four Joe Gibbs Racing drivers had won this year. Hamlin took care of that in a big way, winning his first race of the year and the 30thof his career.
2. Kyle Larson
After winning the pole on Friday, Larson’s time was disallowed when his car flunked post-qualifying inspection. Still, he earned his seventh runner-up finish of the year and his second in a row.
3. Martin Truex
All season long, Truex and his Furniture Row Racing Toyota team have been among the best in the field. He leads the series in playoff points with 29.
4. Matt Kenseth
The 2003 champion won’t return to Joe Gibbs Racing next season, despite posting good numbers with the team. A two-tire gamble on the final pit stop didn’t work for him.
5. Kevin Harvick
The 2014 Cup champion once again had a strong Stewart-Haas Racing Ford.
6. Daniel Suarez
The rookie driver from Mexico continues to impress, as he had another excellent finish.
7. Clint Bowyer
One of a handful of winless drivers in contention for a playoff spot, Bowyer would like a win to solidify his hopes. But a bad late-race pit stop cost him a couple of positions.
8. Kurt Busch
Since winning the season-opening Daytona 500, Busch has just one top-five finish, although this was a decent outcome.
9. Brad Keselowski
The Penske Fords don’t quite seem to have the speed they did early in the season, when Keselowski won twice.
10. Jimmie Johnson
You can never count out the eight-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion, but he had nothing on the race-winning Toyotas.
11. Chase Elliott
Still looking for his first career Cup victory, Elliott should make it into the playoffs on points again this year.
12. Kyle Busch
It’s almost impossible to believe, but Busch has now gone an entire year without winning a Cup race. And he had two pit-road speed penalties that cost him dearly.
13. Danica Patrick
It’s been a disappointing season so far for Patrick, who continues to trail her Stewart-Haas Racing teammates. But she had a good run here.
14. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
At restrictor-plate tracks, Stenhouse has been gold, but Roush Fenway Racing has not done as well elsewhere.
15. Austin Dillon
Prior to the race, none of the Richard Childress Racing Chevrolets showed a lot of speed, so 15th wasn’t that bad, all things considered.
16. Ty Dillon
Just like other drivers with ties to Richard Childress Racing, Dillon struggled to get any speed out of his Germain Racing Chevrolet.
17. Jamie McMurray
Like his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Kyle Larson McMurray has shown speed throughout the season.
18. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
In his final season, Earnhardt will have to win one of the next seven races if he hopes to run for a championship. A late-race decision not to pit for tires cost Earnhardt a good finish.
19. Ryan Blaney
This year, Blaney will be in NASCAR’s playoffs for the first time, where he’ll pilot the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford.
20. Trevor Bayne
Roush Fenway Racing has run much better as a unit this year, but at New Hampshire the team lacked speed.
21. AJ Allmendinger
Both JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolets lacked speed throughout the weekend.
22. Paul Menard
It wasn’t a great weekend for any of the Richard Childress Racing drivers.
23. Landon Cassill
In 19 races this season, Cassill has just one DNF. Cassill had a good finish this time.
24. Aric Almirola
This was Almirola’s first race in the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford since breaking his back in a crash at Kansas in May.
25. Chris Buescher
Like teammate AJ Allmendinger, Buescher had a somewhat disappointing weekend.
26. Michael McDowell
One of the pleasant surprises of this season has been the performance of McDowell and his Leavine Family Racing Chevrolet.
27. Ryan Newman
That victory Newman got early in the season at Phoenix is looking bigger and bigger these days, as he got spun out here.
28. Kasey Kahne
One of the big names in the Silly Season rumor mill, Kahne hasn’t won a race since Atlanta in 2014 and after being fast early, he had a poor result here.
29. David Ragan
For the New Hampshire race, Ragan carried sponsorship from Overton’s, who was also the title sponsor of the race.
30. Matt DiBenedetto
At the Daytona 500, DiBenedetto finished in the top 10. He hasn’t finished there again since.
31. Corey LaJoie
This was just the second career Cup start at New Hampshire for the rookie driver.
32. Ryan Sieg
In just his fifth career Cup start, Sieg had a challenging afternoon at New Hampshire.
33. Jeffrey Earnhardt
It’s been a season of struggle for the grandson of the late Dale Earnhardt.
34. Reed Sorenson
After qualifying 35th on Friday, Sorenson’s Chevrolet didn’t have the speed of the front-runners.
35. Gray Gaulding
After missing three of the last four Cup races, Gaulding has moved to the No. 55 Toyota.
36. Josh Bilicki
In just his second career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start, Bilicki struggled again.
37. Joey Logano
Logano is one of the drivers on the NASCAR playoff bubble, as his lone victory this season was encumbered. A tire rub sent him to the garage and put him in a deep points hole.
38. Cole Whitt
Whitt has now suffered engine failures in five of the last eight races. That’s not good.
39 Erik Jones
The Furniture Row Racing rookie made it just 42 laps before a tire failure put him in the wall and out of the race. A huge points blow.
All photos courtesy of Nigel Kinrade Photography © 2017