June 28, 2010
By Ron Felix
Jimmie Johnson recovered from an early, bad pit stop and a bump-and-run by Kurt Busch to win the Lenox 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday.
"That's what the fans want to see," said Johnson. "If I was in the grandstands, I would love to see a little bit of bump and run and watch the guy run him back down and do the same to get by."
With eight laps remaining Johnson was leading and Kurt Busch was running second. Busch moved Johnson out of the way to take the lead -- but Johnson returned the favor six laps later and retook the lead to win his fifth Sprint Cup race this year.
"I have a tough time that when I wreck someone, I usually get caught up in it, so I knew what my thought process was, "Wreck his ass," Johnson continued. "And my end result was like: You can't do that, you'll wreck yourself, you'll look like a fool. You still have a chance to win the race, focus on your job and do your job. It made it easier for me to get off the brake a little earlier and nudge him."
It was Johnson's 52nd victory in 308 career races. Also it was Johnson's third win at New Hampshire. He led three times during the day for a total of nine laps.
Johnson remains second in the standings as the Race to the Chase begins, leaving just nine races remaining before the start of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Tony Stewart finished second, Kurt Busch third and Jeff Gordon completed the race in fourth spot.
Busch talked about the bump-and-run on Johnson and then the payback.
“Well, I thought it was a great short-track battle," said Busch. "It wasn't because he did something that I had to do something, or since I did something, he had to do it back. Driving down into turn three, I saw my window, and it was a perfect time to go for it, because our car was good on the short run, and once four or five laps got on the tires, I knew we were going to have a hard time holding them off and he was still going to be right there. So, just a classic, get in the corner a little bit deeper than the guy. We didn't just flat-out wreck them. We didn't cut his tire. We didn't drive over him. It was just a nice nudge that we are all used to seeing and appreciating on short tracks.”
CIA Stock Photos
Johnson Embraces Crew Chief Chad Knaus
Rounding out the top ten were Kevin Harvick in fifth place followed by Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Joey Logano and A.J. Allmendinger.
Kasey Kahne led 110 of 301 laps but his Ford fell victim to engine failure on lap 236. It was the new Ford engine so Kahne wasn't expecting it to break.
"It’s been out for a while as far as preparing it and being prepared and ready," Kahne said of the powerplant. "When you put it on the track, they’re not supposed to break. I don’t care. That engine could have broke. One of the old engines could have broke. It’s probably just something small inside that happened, but when we brought it here we had no idea that it would break. It’s ready. It’s prepared. It’s ready to go on the track.”
Jeff Burton also was strong, leading 89 laps, be he and Kyle Busch tangled on lap 289. Bith drivers fell back to the rear of the field and were not competitive after that.
"Kyle didn't have anything to do with that," said Burton. "That was all me. He got loose off of (Turn) 2 and I drove underneath him and I just underestimated the amount of grip I would have getting into (Turn) 3 and the back came around and I corrected and he was there. So it was more of an incident with me and he paid the price for it. He didn't do anything wrong."
Pole winner Juan Pablo Montoya led 36 laps but contact between he and Reed Sorenson, cut a tire down and he smacked the outside wall, severly damaging his Chevrolet.
“They told me he (Reed Sorenson) turned right," Montoya said. "I don’t know. The guy that really messed me up was the No. 24 (Jeff Gordon). Everything started with a bad stop. We had a bad stop and you end up a little bit further back than you have been all day. It was the end of the race and nobody gives you any room and that is what happens.
“He just didn’t give me any room, he never does. He has it coming one day. I had been running in front of him all day and we had a faster car than him. He was just getting me really loose in the corner cause he was right against my door getting in. So it got me loose so I actually bumped into him so actually both of us got hurt. It was just one of those deals.”
There were four caution flags for a total of 19 laps. Also there were 16 lead changes among nine different drivers.
The Sprint Cup Series moves to Daytona International Speedway next Saturday night -- July 3rd, 2010 -- for the Coke Zero 400. Daytona will be the 18th race in the Chase for the Championship. Joey Logano was the winner at Daytona in 2009.
The race will also be broadcast live on MRN Radio and SIRIUS Satellite Radio Channel 128.
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