New Hampshire: Johnson's tactical win

Jimmie Johnson used a well-planned fuel strategy to take victory in the NASCAR Winston Cup race at New Hampshire International Speedway, despite several members of his crew getting hit by Jeff Gordon during the race's first caution

New Hampshire: Johnson's tactical win

The race's final caution came on Lap 196 of 300, and teams carefully estimated fuel mileage, deciding whether to short-pit or go long for a quick splash and dash at the end.

Johnson made a late fuel stop on lap 275, and was then promoted to the front in the closing stages as Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth and Robby Gordon were unable to stretch their fuel and were forced to pit.

The Hendrick driver's pit crew had a lucky escape earlier in the race, when a collision between Jeff Gordon and Michael Waltrip sent the four-time champion - who co-owns Johnson's car - sliding into Johnson's pit stall. Three members of his crew took a trip across Gordon's bonnet, although all thankfully escaped without injury.

"Today, with what happened on pit road, I thought we were just going to have to salvage what we can," said Johnson. "Chad [Knaus, crew chief] came on the radio and said, 'Hey bud, you're 16th now and we need a top 10. We need good points, let's just get good points.'

"I was under the same realisation that it was going to be virtually impossible for us to get to the front, but once everybody got strung out and we started passing guys, before we knew it we were in second. So it was meant to be."

Ricky Rudd came through to finish second, driving the very same car that Kevin Harvick had damaged with his post-race outburst following the last race at Richmond. Joe Nemechek finished third, with Bill Elliott fourth.

Dale Earnhardt Jr finished fifth, but failed to make significant inroads on championship leader Matt Kenseth's lead. The Roush driver never looked a contender for victory, but still continued his ridiculously consistent form by finishing seventh.

The other championship hopefuls encountered varied bad luck. Harvick dropped to 16th after stalling on his final stop. Jeff Gordon was running in second, but ran out of fuel on the final lap and dropped back to 19th.

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