NASCAR: Race 17 – Loudon, New Hampshire – June 27

Jimmie Johnson has well and truly recovered from his mid-season slump, and produced a convincing display to produce a back-to-back victory at last Sunday’s Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Juan Montoya led the race for the first 34 laps until a yellow for debris in turn 3 brought the cars in for pit stops; Kasey Kahne, Mark Martin, Joey Logano and Kyle Busch all opted to take two tyres and came out at the head of the field.

The race then ran for a stunning (and new record) 201 laps without a caution, which included two green flag pit stops. Kasey Kahne did remarkably well to stay in the lead for much of the early part of that time, initially coming under pressure from Jimmie Johnson and then from Tony Stewart after the first green flag pit stop cycle.

Finally it was Kyle Busch who bumped Kahne from the top slot on lap 153 with the help of some lapped traffic. Kyle kept the lead through the second pit stop and looked strong through to lap 201, when his pace seemed to fall off and he was beaten to the line by Jeff Burton.

By this time, longtime leader Kasey Kahne was reporting serious problems with his engine and was falling backwards through the field. The engine finally expired on lap 238, bringing out the second yellow of the day. At the restart, Burton led Kyle Busch, Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Montoya to the green flag.

Gordon and Montoya has a serious of collisions over the next few laps, with Montoya ending up the worst off of the two and falling out of the top ten when it was all said and done with the more serious bodywork damage of the two. An enraged Montoya then got into a fight with Reed Sorenson, and this time it ended up even worse for the Colombian with contact sending him hard into the wall at turn 4 on lap 282.

Montoya blamed Gordon for the debacle: “The guy that really messed me up was the #24” said Montoya following his fifth retirement of the season. “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.” He added, “[Gordon] just didn’t give me any room, he never does. He has it coming one day.”

At the restart, Johnson got the better run and took the lead from Burton, who then got loose and clipped Kyle Busch sending both cars spinning. Kyle recovered from a full 360 spin somehow pointing the right direction, but he needed to pit for new tyres and was left to rue what might have been as a final lunge managed some damage limitation by putting him back up to 11th by the end.

Back up at the front at the restart, a tap from Kurt Busch into turn 4 sent Johnson up the track and gave Kurt the lead. Tony Stewart held on to third and Clint Bowyer made heavy contact with the wall, but no caution came out, allowing Johnson to recover and fight back to retake the lead from Kurt on the penultimate lap of the race and go on to take the victory.

Jimmie hadn’t led the most laps or dominated the race, but he was always dangerous and lurking near the front of the field; when opportunities had presented themselves, he was always around to take them. While the final victory was a close run thing after his bump with Busch, he was nonetheless able to take the opportunity and clinch it when it came.

Race result

Pos  Driver              Car        Laps
 1.  Jimmie Johnson      Chevrolet  301
 2.  Tony Stewart        Chevrolet  301
 3.  Kurt Busch          Dodge      301
 4.  Jeff Gordon         Chevrolet  301
 5.  Kevin Harvick       Chevrolet  301
 6.  Ryan Newman         Chevrolet  301
 7.  Clint Bowyer        Chevrolet  301
 8.  Dale Earnhardt Jr   Chevrolet  301
 9.  Joey Logano         Toyota     301
10.  AJ Allmendinger     Ford       301
11.  Kyle Busch          Toyota     301
12.  Jeff Burton         Chevrolet  301
13.  Marcos Ambrose      Toyota     301
14.  Denny Hamlin        Toyota     301
15.  David Reutimann     Toyota     301
16.  Greg Biffle         Ford       301
17.  Matt Kenseth        Ford       300
18.  Jamie McMurray      Chevrolet  300
19.  Elliott Sadler      Ford       300
20.  David Ragan         Ford       300
21.  Mark Martin         Chevrolet  300
22.  Martin Truex Jr     Toyota     300
23.  Sam Hornish Jr      Dodge      300
24.  Reed Sorenson       Toyota     300
25.  Carl Edwards        Ford       299
26.  Brad Keselowski     Dodge      299
27.  Scott Speed         Toyota     299
28.  Paul Menard         Ford       299
29.  Casey Mears         Chevrolet  298
30.  Bobby Labonte       Toyota     297
31.  David Stremme       Ford       294
32.  Kevin Conway        Ford       292
33.  Regan Smith         Chevrolet  292
34.  Juan Pablo Montoya  Chevrolet  280
35.  David Gilliland     Ford       268
36.  Kasey Kahne         Ford       236
37.  Andy Lally          Chevrolet  142
38.  JJ Yeley            Dodge      84
39.  Joe Nemechek        Toyota     68
40.  Todd Bodine         Toyota     31
41.  Michael McDowell    Toyota     24
42.  Dave Blaney         Toyota     20
43.  Max Papis           Toyota     11

Sprint Cup standings

POS  +/-  DRIVER              POINTS  BEHIND  ST  P  W  T5  T10
1    --   Kevin Harvick       2489    Leader  17  0  1  7   12 
2    --   Jimmie Johnson      2384    -105    17  0  5  8   11 
3    --   Kyle Busch          2328    -161    17  2  2  5   9  
4    --   Denny Hamlin        2304    -185    17  0  5  7   7  
5    --   Jeff Gordon         2302    -187    17  0  0  8   9  
6    --   Kurt Busch          2288    -201    17  2  2  7   10 
7    --   Matt Kenseth        2204    -285    17  0  0  4   8  
8    --   Jeff Burton         2159    -330    17  0  0  3   7  
9    +1   Tony Stewart        2158    -331    17  1  0  4   8  
10   -1   Greg Biffle         2126    -363    17  0  0  2   10 
11   --   Mark Martin         2047    -442    17  1  0  5   6  
12   --   Carl Edwards        2020    -469    17  0  0  1   6  
13   --   Dale Earnhardt Jr.  2017    -472    17  1  0  1   5  
14   +1   Ryan Newman         2005    -484    17  1  1  2   6  
15   -1   Clint Bowyer        2004    -485    17  0  0  1   9  
16   +1   Joey Logano         1921    -568    17  1  0  2   7  
17   -1   Jamie McMurray      1899    -590    17  2  1  4   5  
18   +1   Martin Truex Jr.    1872    -617    17  1  0  1   4  
19   +2   David Reutimann     1870    -619    17  0  0  3   3  
20   -2   Kasey Kahne         1846    -643    17  1  0  4   5  
21   +1   A.J. Allmendinger   1845    -644    17  1  0  0   3  
22   -2   Juan Montoya        1837    -652    17  1  0  4   8  
23   --   Paul Menard         1738    -751    17  0  0  1   2  
24   +1   David Ragan         1660    -829    17  0  0  0   1  
25   -1   Brad Keselowski     1643    -846    17  0  0  0   0  
26   --   Scott Speed         1631    -858    17  0  0  0   1  
27   --   Marcos Ambrose      1593    -896    17  0  0  0   2  
28   --   Elliott Sadler      1548    -941    17  0  0  0   0  
29   --   Sam Hornish Jr.     1499    -990    17  0  0  0   0  
30   --   Regan Smith         1432    -1057   17  0  0  0   0  
31   --   Bobby Labonte       1276    -1213   17  0  0  0   0  
32   --   Robby Gordon        1202    -1287   15  0  0  1   1  
33   +2   David Gilliland     1193    -1296   15  0  0  0   0  
34   -1   Travis Kvapil       1172    -1317   16  0  0  0   0  
35   -1   Brian Vickers       1158    -1331   11  0  0  0   3  
36   --   Kevin Conway*       1048    -1441   16  0  0  0   0  
37   --   David Stremme       713     -1776   9   0  0  0   0  
38   --   Joe Nemechek        689     -1800   16  0  0  0   0  
39   --   Max Papis           662     -1827   13  0  0  0   0  
40   --   Mike Bliss          621     -1868   9   0  0  0   1  
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