Johnson Wins at New Hampshire!
- Jul 21, 2003
LOUDON, N.H. (July 21, 2003) – Jimmie Johnson won his third race in as many months on Sunday, leading Team Lowe’s Racing to Victory Lane at New Hampshire International Speedway.
Driving the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, Johnson led 56 of the 300-lap New England 300 and moved into a top-five position in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship standings.
The team executed a solid fuel-mileage strategy en route to the first-place finish.
“I think some strategy played into it at the end with us pitting at the last minute and gambling we had enough gas to finish it,” Johnson said. “After I took the lead, I had to look in my mirror the rest of the way while I conserved fuel and kept an eye on whoever was second. But I was able to ride around and watch my gas and we made it.”
Johnson swept both races at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in May, including The Winston, NASCAR’s all-star event. Jeff Gordon won at Martinsville, Va., in April and Joe Nemechek took first at Richmond, Va., giving Hendrick Motorsports five Winston Cup victories in 2003.
Terry Labonte, a two-time series champion, finished 20th at New Hampshire after running as high as seventh, but handling problems plagued the No. 5 Kellogg’s / got milk? Chevrolet.
Labonte slid two positions in the driver standings, but remains only 69 points behind 10th-place Jeff Burton.
Gordon, whose No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet was the dominant car at New Hampshire, finished 24th after starting from the outside pole position. The four-time Winston Cup champion led a race-high 133 laps, but lost valuable track position after pitting with 65 laps remaining for fuel and tires.
“When you get a car that’s that good out front, you’re going to drive away,” Gordon said. “But even in traffic, we were really good. We were able to pass and drive by guys. It was an amazing car.”
After 19 of 36 events, Gordon remains second in the overall standings, 234 points behind leader Matt Kenseth.
Like Gordon, Nemechek had one of the best race cars on Sunday, but fell victim to fuel woes late in the event. Driving the No. 25 UAW-Delphi Chevy, he ran in the top five for nearly 50 laps before dropping to 29th after a late-race pit stop.
Nemechek is now 25th in points.
The NASCAR Winston Cup Series will next visit the 2.5-mile Pocono (Pa.) Raceway for the Pennsylvania 500 on Sunday, July 27. Live coverage will begin at 12:30 p.m. on TNT and MRN Radio.