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What Slump? Jimmie Johnson Does It Again

[1]Jimmie Johnson overcame a bad pit stop early on and survived a bump-and-run from Kurt Busch to win the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The win is his second consecutive win in the Sprint Cup Series, after some people said that he was in a slump.

Around lap 112, Johnson came down pit road with the lead. But, there was a problem with the left rear. He left the pits in ninth place. He battled back all day and took the lead on lap 288 when he used his fresher tires to pass Jeff Burton who was on older tires.

The caution came out when Burton got into Kyle Busch and spun him. Burton simply lost grip due to his older tires.

On the restart, Kurt Busch orchestrated the bump-and-run on Johnson to perfection. He tapped Johnson’s left rear, sending him up the track. Busch took the lead on the inside with about six laps to go. Thousands of anti-Jimmie fans cheered, thining, “Anyone but Jimmie.”

But, over the next five laps, those fans watched as Johnson slowly reeled in Busch.

By lap 299, Johnson was on Busch’s bumper. He nudged Busch and was able to get along side him, but couldn’t complete the pass. After about a half of a lap of racing side-by-side, Johnson who was close to completing the pass, drifted up and nudged Busch again. Busch slid a little high and Johnson was able to pull away. Busch fell to third while Johnson won. 

Top 5: Johnson, Tony Stewart, Busch, Jeff Gordon, and Kevin Harvick.

Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Joey Logano, and AJ Allmendinger finished sixth through 10th, respectively.

Notables: Kyle Busch (11th), Jeff Burton (12th), Marcos Amborse (13th), Denny Hamlin (14th), David Reutimann (15th), Greg Biffle (16th), Matt Kenseth (17th), Jamie McMurray (18th), Mark Martin (21st), Martin Truex Jr (22nd), Carl Edwards (25th), Juan Montoya (34th), and Kasey Kahne (36th).  

Kasey Kahne had a good run going until around lap 205, when he began having engine problems. He tried nursing his slow car around the track, as other cars easily passed him. On lap 238, Kahne’s engine gave way. He finished 36th.

Most of the race was run under green. Kahne’s engine problem was the first non-debris caution. After that, Juan Montoya and Jeff Gordon were beating and banging for fourth place. Gordon knocked the letters off of Montoya’s left rear, but the tire still appeared to be inflated.

Montoya began losing positions. He dropped from seventh to 12th in 10 laps. On lap 282, Montoya and Reed Sorenson were running side by side. They were not on the same lap, and were not battling for position. Montoya and Sorenson made contact. They raced side-by-side for another five laps before Sorenson appeared to cut right and hit Montoya sending him hard into the wall. He finished 34th.

Under the caution, leader Jeff Burton stayed out while everyone else pitted. On old tires, Burton was unable to hold off the cars with fresher tires. As he lost positions, he got loose and slid up the track into Kyle Busch, spinning him out. Busch and Burton came to the pit under caution and both recovered to finish 11th and 12th, respectively.