Jimmie Johnson wins Lennox 301 at New Hampshire

LOUDON, N.H. — Kurt Busch tried to bump-and-run past Jimmie Johnson for a win.

What he really did was anger the four-time Sprint Cup champion.

"I thought, I don't care if I win this race or not," Johnson said. "I don't care if I finish this d- - - thing. I'm running into him and get by him one way or another."

Johnson paid back Busch with a poke of his own to surge ahead with two laps left Sunday and win the Lenox 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for his fifth victory of the season.

"For sure, that's what the fans want to see," Johnson said.

Busch grabbed the lead with about seven laps left when he nudged Johnson in the left rear and out of the way. Johnson ran him down and got side-by-side to energize a lackluster race on the 1.058-mile track.

Johnson put a little bump on Busch to move him up the track, allowing the No. 48 to slip underneath for the victory. His five wins tie Denny Hamlin for the series lead.

"I'm not good at doing that stuff," Johnson said. "Usually I crash myself in the process. So I tried it once and moved him. The second time I moved him out of the way and got by him."

Busch said his intention was to pass Johnson cleanly until he realized he could just push him out of his path. Johnson said he'd be surprised if Busch tried to purposely wreck him.

"If that's his intentions, that'd be the first time in nine years racing with him I'd experienced that," Johnson said. "It definitely changes the way I race with him from that point on. I hate that he felt I wasn't going to wreck him, because that was my goal, to wreck him."

"Strike that from the comments, he didn't really mean that," Johnson crew chief Chad Knaus interjected.

The four-time defending champion pulled away to win his second straight race. Johnson narrowed his points gap behind leader Kevin Harvick to 105, but there was almost no movement among the top 12 drivers.

Tony Stewart finished second and Busch third. Jeff Gordon and Harvick rounded out the top five.

"When you struggle as bad as we have, it definitely wasn't going to hurt to go do something like that," Stewart said.

The 318-mile race was almost absent of cautions until the end, with 201 straight laps of green-flag racing. Kasey Kahne led 110 laps until engine problems knocked him out.

Pole sitter Juan Pablo Montoya, looking for his first Cup win on an oval, was a threat until he got caught up with Gordon, fell back and was hit by Reed Sorenson.

Gordon seemingly had half the field angry at him last week at Infineon Raceway for aggressive driving.

This time, Montoya accused Gordon of not giving him any room. "He has it coming one day," Montoya said.

Jeff Burton was a threat to win for the first time in two years until he decided not to pit with 17 laps left. He was the only lead-lap driver not to pit, and it cost him when he spun into Kyle Busch and took them both out.

Kurt Busch knew his car wasn't strong enough to win and just hoped that late-race tap was enough to hold off Johnson.

"We did what we could to get the lead," he said. "I was just counting the laps and was like, man, there's not enough laps. The thought was, those 10 points for winning would look a lot better stacked in our deck than in his chip count."

Johnson has silenced doubts that he was in a slump or appeared vulnerable during a five-race stretch from April to May. He has two straight wins for the second time this season and four straight top-six finishes.

"Yeah, I don't think we went anywhere," Johnson said.

Sprint Cup points

Through 17 of 36 races. The top 12 drivers through 26 races make the Chase for the Championship.

Driver Pts. Back

Kevin Harvick 2,489—

Jimmie Johnson 2,384 105

Kyle Busch 2,328 161

Denny Hamlin 2,304 185

Jeff Gordon 2,302 187

Kurt Busch 2,288 201

Matt Kenseth 2,204 285

Jeff Burton 2,159 330

Tony Stewart 2,158 331

Greg Biffle 2,126 363

Mark Martin 2,047 442

Carl Edwards 2,020 469

Dale Earnhardt Jr.2,017 472

Ryan Newman 2,005 484

Clint Bowyer 2,004 485

Note: Points unofficial; NASCAR posts official standings today

Up next

Coke Zero 400, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Daytona International Speedway. TV: TNT

Gearhead stats

Winner's average speed: 113.308 mph

Time of race: 2 hours, 48 minutes, 38 seconds

Margin of victory: 0.753 seconds

Caution flags: Four for 19 laps

Lead changes: 14 among nine drivers

Lap leaders: Montoya 1-36; Sadler 37; Kahne 38-105; Johnson 106; Ku.Busch 107; Newman 108; Stewart 109-110; Kahne 111-152; Ky.Busch 153-176; Burton 177-178; Ky.Busch 179-200; Burton 201-287; Johnson 288-293; Ku.Busch 294-299; Johnson 300-301

Jimmie Johnson wins Lennox 301 at New Hampshire 06/27/10 [Last modified: Monday, June 28, 2010 8:35am]

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