Rookie Report: Bad Boy Off Road 300
By Tyler Head
September 26, 2016
LOUDON, N.H.—All five Sprint Cup Series rookie-of-the-year candidates were among the 40 starters in the Bad Boy Off Road 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Below is a breakdown of how each fared.
No. 21 Ryan Blaney
Blaney started 16th for his third career start at the “Magic Mile.” Blaney struggled throughout the day to make any ground and fell outside the top-20 before the halfway mark.
Despite the slow start, Blaney was able to rally back inside the top-20 with 75 laps to go, and took advantage of late restarts to bring the No. 21 Motorcraft Ford home 12th, the highest finish among the rookies Sunday.
Blaney was unavailable for comment.
No. 24 Chase Elliott
Elliott started highest among the rookies with a tenth place qualifying effort at Loudon.
Elliott spent almost the entire race in the top-10 if not the top-five, and led a lap during a round of pit stops on lap 167, earning a bonus point.
Unfortunately for Elliott, the race was 300 laps, not 285. With 15 laps to go Elliott was fifth, but on the late restarts the No. 24 Napa Chevrolet was shuffled back by cars with fresher tires.
“I had a good car and the cautions didn’t fall our way,” Elliott said after the race.
When the checkered flag flew, Elliott had fallen to 13th. Elliott is now ninth in the Chase standings heading to Dover, 16 points up on 13th place Jamie McMurray.
No. 32 Jeffrey Earnhardt
Earnhardt anchored the starting grid in the 40th position for his second Cup Series start at Loudon. Earnhardt finished 35th in his only other start at New Hampshire in 2015, but he wasn’t able to improve on that mark Sunday.
After the race, Earnhardt said the team had struggled all weekend to get the car to turn and the long green flag runs to start the race didn’t help.
“Those long green flag runs really put a hurt on you,” Earnhardt said. “They make it tough to keep up. We went several laps down on that first green flag run and that’s because we were never able to come in and make our car better. That’s the tough part about it, but we’ll keep working to get it better.”
The No. 32 Can-Am Ford finished 37th, 10 laps down.
No. 34 Chris Buescher
Buescher entered Loudon in need of a good finish to stay in striking distance to make the top-12 in the championship, but the Front Row Racing team was plagued by poor handling all weekend.
The No. 34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford rolled off 28th and struggled mightily. Buescher spent much of the day off the lead lap and after a long day of racing outside the top-25 finished 30th, two laps down.
“Just trying to get it to turn through the center a little bit better, pretty much what we ended up fighting, trying to keep that forward drive,” Buescher said after the race.
“It was a long day and not what we wanted to end up by any means, but we’ll go to Dover and do a little bit better.”
Buescher is at the tail end of the Chase field entering the elimination race at Dover, 30 points outside the top-12.
No. 44 Brian Scott
Scott started 25th for his second series start at the Magic Mile – an improvement from his 33rd place qualifying effort earlier this year.
Scott’s finish was also an improvement over his 38th place finish in June.
The No. 44 Shaw’s Ford never made forward progress and fell outside the top-30 by lap 135. Scott spent much of the remainder of the race outside the top-30 on his way to a 31st place finish, two laps down.
Brian Scott was unavailable for comment.