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New Hampshire Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: Consistency, potholes and ostraconophobia

Apparently, the key to Joe Gibbs Racing’s return to Victory Lane after a season-long winless drought was a backup car. Race winner and lobsterphobe Denny Hamlin crashed during practice, but he emerged victorious Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the team’s backup car. But Hamlin wasn’t the only one to earn our thumbs-up after a big weekend.


Thumbs Up: Kyle Larson finishes second again

Some things are sure in life. For instance, Martin Truex Jr. is always going to win a stage. Kasey Kahne’s always going to have bad luck. Jimmie Johnson is always going to have perfectly-trimmed facial hair.

And Kyle Larson’s always going to finish second, apparently.

Despite starting last — for the second week in a row — Larson raced his way up to finish P2 … also for the second week in a row. It’s the seventh time he’s finished runner-up this season.

If you’re going to have a consistent finishing position, second place isn’t usually too bad — so that’s why this thumb will point upwards for driver No. 42.


Thumbs Down: Chasing your driver with a giant crustacean

There’s a lot of upside to winning a race.

However, there are, in rare instances, cases where winning isn’t all that great — like when you win a race where the trophy is a gigantic lobster and you experience Ostraconophobia  — the fear of shellfish.

Especially if you’re like New Hampshire race winner Denny Hamlin and your crew chief chases after you holding an enormous lobster trophy in Victory Lane.

Thumbs down, Mike Wheeler. Not cool.

Although, maybe the lobster could serve a disciplinary purpose for a penalty-prone Hamlin.


Thumbs Up: A speedy track repair

After Stage 1, a small hole developed in the surface of Turns 3 and 4, red-flagging the Overton’s 301 for track repairs.

Watch: Track repairs bring out red flag

To the delight of race fans, the race was back in action about five minutes later. Although, it might have been a bummer for fans who saw the race was red-flagged for a track repair, left their seats for some fried lobster thinking the repair would take a while, only to hear the roar of the engines five minutes later.

And, on top of the impressive repair time, the patch held up for the rest of the race. Thumbs up for quick, effective work.

If only potholes on the highway could be fixed in five minutes.


Thumbs Down: Cole Whitt’s bad luck

Cole Whitt has had a rough summer, and it showed again Sunday at New Hampshire.

For the fifth time in eight races — and for the third consecutive week — he exited the race early due to an engine failure.

It’s both a disappointment for the No. 72 team and for the people who put Whitt on their fantasy team.

They say bad things happen in threes, so maybe Whitt’s three are out of the way just in time for the Brickyard.


Biggest Thumbs Up of the Week: Denny’s Burnout

Moments before Denny Hamlin’s life was forever scarred by the aforementioned lobster incident, he put on quite an impressive victory burnout performance for the New Hampshire fans.

Watch: Hamlin’s wicked burnout at New Hampshire

Hamlin made it about halfway around the Magic Mile until his rear tires finally called it quits — which was about 30 seconds longer than it took for him to throw in the towel when his crustaceous trophy got a little too close in Victory Lane.

The victory celebration deserves a lobster trophy-sized thumbs up.