Jimmie Johnson Wins at New Hampshire and Leads Team Chevy Drivers to Four Top-Five and Seven Top-10 Finishes Loudon, NH -- Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet, scored his fifth victory of the season today in the Lenox Industrial Tools 301....
Jimmie Johnson Wins at New Hampshire and Leads Team Chevy Drivers to Four Top-Five and Seven Top-10 Finishes
Loudon, NH -- Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet, scored his fifth victory of the season today in the Lenox Industrial Tools 301. It is the four-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) champion's third win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and the 52nd trip to victory lane of his career. 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.
Johnson led a contingent of four Team Chevy drivers with top-five finishes and a total of seven in the top-10 final finishing order.
Tony Stewart, No. 14 Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet, finished second in today's 301-lap/318.46-mile race. The two-time NSCS champion moved to ninth in the standings.
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, finished fourth. The four-time NSCS champion is in fifth position in the points order.
Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet, took the checkered flag in fifth place. He maintains a 105 point lead in the standings.
Completing the Team Chevy drivers in the top-10 were Ryan Newman, No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet in sixth position who moved to 14th in the standings, and Clint Bowyer, No. 33 Zaxby's Chevrolet, finished seventh and sits 15th in the point standings.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet, finished 8th today. He remains 13th in the standings, just three points out of the 12th Chase spot.
Jeff Burton, No. 31 Lenox Industrial Tools Chevrolet, finished 12th after late race contact while battling for the lead, which dropped him in the final order. He led twice for a total of 89 laps and remains eighth in the standings.
Completing the six Team Chevy drivers in the Chase top-12 in the standings is Mark Martin, No. 5 CARQUEST/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, who is in the 11th points position. He finished 21st in today's race.
Kurt Busch (Dodge) finished third completing the top-five finishers.
The Series' next stop will be July 3rd at Daytona International Speedway for the Coke Zero 400.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET -- WINNER
A GREAT FINISH WITH KURT BUSCH, TELL US ABOUT THOSE LAST FEW LAPS "First and foremost I just want to thank Lowe's and all their employee-owners, everybody at Chevrolet and Hendrick Motorsports for giving me a great race car. The No. 31 (Jeff Burton) kind of, it was one of those situations where if he pits, we stay out. He didn't pit so we came in and the whole field came with us. And so that started from there. We got going on that restart and Kurt (Busch) knocked me out of the way and I thought I don't care if I win this race or not; I don't care if I finish this damn thing. I'm running into him and get by one way or another. I'm not good at doing that stuff. Usually I crash myself in the process. So I tried once and moved him, but (thought) I've got to hit him harder. The second time I moved him out of the way and got by him and was able to get going. It was just a great effort. We had one bad stop. I think something hung up on the left rear hub early in the race and we fought back from that. We had great stops and were great after that and got back to the front."
WAS THAT 'BOYS HAVE AT IT' AT ITS BEST? "Yeah, you're going to have that on the short tracks. We had so much green flag running, I knew at some point we'd get bunched up and it would all break loose. And it certainly did. I want to say hi to my wife at home. Hopefully she didn't go into labor. Wait for me; I want to be home to be a part of this."
HOW BIG WAS PERSEVERANCE FOR YOUR RACE TEAM TODAY? IT COULD HAVE BEEN EASY WHEN YOU WERE BACK IN THE PACK AND NOT MAKING PROGRESS "Yeah, and especially since there is so little grip here; track position is very important because of clean air. You need the entire race track to make a good lap time. And if you get mired in traffic and it just gets really frustrating."
YOU HAD THE FASTEST CAR BUT IT DIDN'T LOOK LIKE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE RACE THINGS WERE GOING TO WORK OUT "Yeah we lost some track position but I just kept my head down and stayed focused and picked them off one at a time. Chad (Knaus) had some great strategy pitting a lap or two early over some guys and we were able to get out on the track and make up time and pick up a couple of spots there. And then at the end, the No. 31 (Burton) it was one of those situations where we're going to do the opposite of what he does and he stayed out so we came to pit road and luckily the field followed us. We got by him and got going and then the No. 2 (Kurt Busch) took a shot at me and I got my cool and thought if he's going to take a shot at me to get by, I don't care if I finish this race. I'm going to run over the top of him to get back to the lead. And I tried once and didn't get enough of him and tried the second time and just moved him enough to get out of the way and got going. It was just good short track racing."
ON ALL THE AGGRESSIVE DRIVING "Well, he (Kurt Busch) didn't wreck me so I've got to give him that. And it is short track racing so I knew something was going to come. I didn't think I would get hit that hard. So you race people how they race you and I know he didn't try dumping me, but he came awfully close. So I just thought about it when I caught him, I thought well, I hope I don't dump him, but I'm definitely going to get into him."
ANOTHER 10 BONUS POINTS IS A BIG STEP "Yeah, it's definitely a big step. This Lowe's team has been working so hard to just have what we need when the Chase comes around and to win at a Chase track in the spring or the first time we go to one, gives us a lot of confidence coming back. So, I'm thankful to my team and thankful to Chevrolet. Thanks to the fans for coming out; it was a packed house today."
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OLD SPICE/OFFICE DEPOT CHEVROLET -- Finished 2nd
YOU WERE OFF-SEQUENCE EARLY, YOU HAD A FAST RACE CAR, WHAT A JOB TO GET IT BACK UP TO THE FRONT "It was my fault sliding into Kurt (Busch). That cost him a second. But we just both sailed off in there and neither one of us was going to let the other one have an advantage going into (Turn) 1 there on the last lap. It was my fault. It's my responsibility as the guy on the inside to control my car and I slid up into him. So I definitely owe him one on that one. But I'm proud. I'm proud of these guys and this Old Spice/Office Depot team. We started in the back; worked our way to the front and on the first stop didn't get fuel into it so we had to keep short pitting on the long greens there. We gained some track position and then we'd lose when the guys on fresh tires would run us down and get by us. We got caught out there toward the end and had to take the wave-around and then you start behind all the lapped cars and everything. So it was a long fight there at the end but we got the top two."
AN OUTSTANDING RUN BATTLING BACK "Yeah, these guys did an awesome job on this Old Spice/Office Depot team today. We didn't get fuel in on the first stop there and that caused us to keep having to come in because we were at the end of our fuel window every time we were coming. We'd gain a little bit and then we'd lose it all back and then some. But we kept fighting all day. We got caught out there at the end and had to take a wave-around to stay on the lead lap there and fought our way up to second. That was pretty cool."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT CHEVROLET -- Finished 4th
AT TIMES IT SEEMED LIKE WE WERE RUNNING AT MARTINSVILLE. IT GOT ROUGH "Well, that's just all the type of racing you're seeing these days. Double-file re-starts get really hairy and wild and crazy. It was a little bit eventful with us and the No. 42 (Juan Pablo Montoya) there but we recovered. Again, we've got to work on the restarts a little bit. We had a really strong car early in the race, but lost that a little bit. So, we'll go back and do our notes and try to figure out how we can be better when we come back here for the Chase. But all-in-all it was a pretty good day for the DuPont Chevrolet."
WAS THIS TRACK TOUGH TO GET A HANDLE ON TODAY? "You know, the first half of the race I thought we were one of the best cars. We started 16th and drove all the way up to the top five. I was really happy with it. But somewhere along the way I don't know if it was the cloud cover track conditions or how it changed, we just really lost the handling on it and could just never get the car to turn in the middle quite like it had earlier. From that point on we were just kind of out there. We weren't charging and moving forward and able to battle guys like we were earlier in the race."
GOOD RUN TODAY. IT GOT A LITTLE HAIRY TOWARDS THE END BUT YOU GOT IT HOME IN ONE PIECE "Yeah, we really hit the set-up early in the race. And I felt like man, we've got a shot at this thing. I don't know. Track conditions or just adjustments, I don't know but we just kind of lost the handling on it a little bit. It got bumping and banging and got exciting like it always does here at New Hampshire, and I feel pretty good about bringing the DuPont Chevrolet home in 4th."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL/PENNZOIL CHEVROLET -- Finished 5th
YOU BATTLED FROM THE 24TH STARTING POSITION, YOU CERTAINLY HAD A GOOD VIEW OF WHAT WENT ON AT THE END "Yeah, our Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet was good. We kept freeing it up all day and we finally got it a little bit too free on two tires. We hadn't had two tires on all day; we had four all day. I had a little beating and banging up there. I thought we were in the right spot to capitalize on that, but I just couldn't put the throttle down. But it was a solid day. I feel like we've got a better spot to start when we come back and we'll be a little bit better in qualifying."
ON HAVING THE POINTS LEAD "Yeah, you definitely want to be solid for the next few weeks and then you can start doing some things that you normally wouldn't do and trying things that you normally wouldn't try. And even right now we can be a little bit more aggressive because you do have a little bit of a cushion. But we want to win a couple of races or a race or two before the Chase starts and hopefully hit our winning streaks in the last 10 (races); that's when it all counts."
YOU KEPT FIGHTING AND YOU ENDED UP WITH A DECENT FINISH "Yeah, it was a decent day for our Shell/Pennzoil Chevy. The guys did a great job making the car better throughout the day and we were just a little bit too loose on those last re-starts to get going like we had been before. But it was a solid day; and interesting race the way it all went green and to put ourselves in the top five there at the end is what we needed to do."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 LENOX CHEVROLET -- Finished 12th
WHAT HAPPENED WITH YOU AND KYLE BUSCH? "Kyle didn't have anything to do with that. 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."
PRIOR TO THAT, YOU HAD A PRETTY GOOD CAR "Yeah, we had a great car. Obviously that last call was a tough call. It's just hard to know what to do. That was the first time we'd taken off on old tires and I didn't really know what to expect and it's easy to sit back now and say we should have changed tires but all we had to do was drag two other cars with us and we'd win the race and nobody came. So sometimes leading the race is a difficult position to be in but I'm real proud of everybody. Everybody is working hard and it's disappointing but I'm not discouraged about what we've got going on here."
YOU HAD A GREAT RUN GOING. HOW DISAPPOINTING IS IT TO COME UP WITH THE FINISH YOU HAD? "Well, it's disappointing. But we're a good race team and we'll keep plugging. I'm proud of how good we're running. It is what it is. We thought we'd drag a couple cars with us on pit road and nobody came at all. That didn't work out for us. But they give me great race cars and 99 percent of the time they make great race calls. It just went against us today."
WHAT HAPPENED OUT THERE? "All we had to was drag one or two people with us on that restart and we would have been fine. But, we had a great race car today. They did a good job on pit road. Being the leader sometimes is a disadvantage and that was one of them."
WAS THAT WAS YOUR CALL TO STAY OUT? "We make our calls together. Whatever the call is, I support it 100%. I didn't know what the right thing to do was. I didn't have a clue what the right thing to do was. Todd (Berrier, crew chief) made the call, but we made the call together because he makes the calls and I support him 100%. I'm not disappointed in the calls at all. At the end of the day, in retrospect, it wasn't the right thing to do, but that is real easy to say right now."
WERE YOU SURPRISED HOW QUICKLY JIMMIE (JOHNSON) WAS ABLE TO CATCH YOU? "Yes. We just didn't have the grip I thought we would have. That is first time we restarted on old tires. I just didn't know what to expect. Had I known that, then maybe I would have made a call but that was the first time we did it all day."
ARE YOU DISAPPOINTED? "It is disappointing. If we aren't disappointed with that, something is wrong with us. I'm not discouraged about it, but I am disappointed. I hate that Kyle (Busch) and I got together there at the end. I know we had a little history together and honestly that had nothing to do with that, although nobody will ever believe that. I just screwed up. He didn't do a thing wrong and that is 100% on me."
IS THAT SOMETHING YOU TWO WILL TALK ABOUT? "He is probably not going to want to talk about it and I don't blame him, I would be mad if I was him."
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 HAAS AUTOMATION CHEVROLET, FINISHED 6TH:
TALK ABOUT YOUR RACE: "Probably the longest green flag we've had here in a couple of years. Just a good fight back. I think we dropped back to I think 14th there and when you can fight back from 14th to sixth at Loudon, it was some good strategy and a good race car. We are proud of everybody at Stewart-Haas. Tony (Stewart, finished 2nd) had a good car and a great, strong run there at the end. On the inside line on that last restart, we just didn't have what it took. Our Haas Automation Chevrolet was still just a little too loose."
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 ZAXBY'S CHEVROLET, FINISHED 7TH:
"I hate it. Jeff Burton was the best car out there and he deserved to win it today. I just got loose. It is just getting out of hand with these cautions and these double-file restarts. The No. 42 (Juan Pablo Montoya). Last week it was Jeff Gordon, now it was the No. 42. I'm glad he finally got what he deserved. Just beating and banging, kind of uncalled for. But it is kind of the nature of the beast. That is the sandbox we have to play in. But a good run for our Zaxby's Chevrolet today."
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY CHEVROLET, FINISHED 8TH:
WAS TODAY'S FINISH A TURNING POINT FOR YOU GUYS? "I think it is a good start to a turning point. I like running here and I traditionally feel like I am a top-10 here every time I show up. We worked on the car and felt like where we ended practice was a good spot. The car was really fast at the start of the race. The first run not so good, but the second run, we really got going. We started adjusting on it and we just lost that little pep it had that drove it up to the top-10. But, it was still good enough to hang on. But we kept skipping back and forth over the balance of the car from tight to loose on those last couple of adjustments. Just couldn't get the car like it was when it was really good right before the middle of the race."
DID YOU THINK LANCE HAD MADE A LOT OF CHANGES? "I knew he pulled air out of the left rear, I could tell when that happened. Because these cars don't like it. But I had a lot of fun today."
YOU HAD A GREAT TIME OUT THERE: "I was real glad the car run good. Drove it up there. The car was excellent the first half of the race and then we sort of struggled with it the last half of the race, but we still had a good finish. It still was a competitive car. But it was really good about the 1/3 mark of the race. I just want to thank National Guard and AMP Energy. I want to say hello to my cousin Stacy who is battling leukemia. We are real proud of our run today and it is a good move for us in the points."
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET, FINISHED 34th - involved in accident on lap 280:
WHAT HAPPENED OUT THERE? "I don't know, they told me he (Reed Sorenson) turned right. 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."
WHAT HAPPENED OUT THERE WITH YOU AND THE NO. 24? "He just didn't give me any room, he never does. He has it coming one day."
WAS THE LAPPED TRAFFIC AN ISSUE? "It is a shame because everybody is a lap down. I am running around the outside. I'm not bumping, I'm not making it tight and he (Sorenson) right before he braked. It was just one of deals where I'm not surprised, coming from Reed I wasn't surprised to be honest."
DID THE CONTACT WITH CLINT BOWYER PLAY INTO IT? "I just got me loose and I just got him loose too. You can run me but don't try to wreck me. That was it."
WERE YOU UPSET WITH JEFF GORDON? "No, it is just hard because it is 20-40 laps to go, whatever and everybody wants the same piece of rubber. 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."
-source: gm racing