Johnson gets angry, payback vs. Busch
What he really did was anger the four-time 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 damn thing. I’m running into him and get by him one way or another.”
Johnson paid back Busch with a poke of his own in the final stretch to surge ahead with two laps left and win the Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday 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 down Busch and quickly got side-by-side to energize what had been 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.
“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.
Johnson didn’t believe there would be further retaliation.
“He didn’t wreck me, so
at the end of the day I guess I didn’t owe him,” Johnson said.
The four-time defending champion pulled away to win his second straight race after taking the checkered flag last week on the road course at Infineon Raceway.
It was a bump off the track that Johnson was most concerned about—his wife’s baby bump.
Johnson dedicated the win to his pregnant wife, Chandra, who is at home and due with their first child around the time of the July 10 race at Chicagoland Speedway. Johnson has Aric Almirola on hand as his standby driver.
“Hopefully you didn’t go into labor with this victory,” he said to his wife. “Wait for me, I want to be a part of this.”
Tony Stewart finished second and Busch was third. Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top five.
The 318-mile race was almost absent of cautions until the very end, with 201 straight laps of green flag racing. Kasey Kahne drove up front for most of the race and led 110 laps until engine problems knocked him out. Pole sitter Juan Pablo Montoya also was in contention until he was knocked out late by a lapped car.
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.
Johnson has two straight wins for the second time this season and four straight top-six finishes.
Cambridge native Matt Kenseth finished 17th. Janesville native Travis Kvapil failed to qualify for the race.
Tajima wins 5th straight Pikes Peak Hill Climb
The 10-minute barrier at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb at Colorado Springs, Colo., is safe for another year.
Japan’s Nobuhiro Tajima on Sunday topped Unlimited Class challengers Paul Dallenbach and Rhys Millen to win his fifth consecutive Race to the Clouds in 10:11.490.
It was a few seconds faster than his winning time last year but short of the record 10:01.408 he set in 2007.
Tajima felt he had made a good enough run to break the record and was surprised to hear his time at the summit.
“I’m very disappointed,” Tajima said. “I thought I was faster, and it was a very good run. The car and everything worked well.”
Dallenbach, a three-time overall Hill Climb champion, finished second in 10:39.534, despite having to go to a backup engine that had 130 horsepower less than his No. 1 engine.
“It was a fairly clean run overall, and I can’t complain too much,” Dallenbach said. “You always want to win and break records, but the mountain dictates if records are broken. I’m here safe and in one piece, so that’s the important thing. We’ll be back at it next year.”
Millen, whose father Rod held the overall record before Tajima, struggled with mechanical issues and settled for a time of 11:06.208 and finished third in the Unlimited Class.
“Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong today,” said Millen, who set the 2WD Time Attack Class record a year ago.
“We had a transmission issue right at the start, I overheated my front brakes and got loose in one turn. We’ll be back fighting for that 10-minute barrier next year.” he said.
Savannah Rickli, of Littleton, Colo., the youngest female competitor in race history at age 16, finished her run in her 2003 Mini Cooper in 13:58.232 and was brought to tears after reaching the summit.
“This is such a personal victory,” said Rickli, a junior at Dakota Ridge High School. “I’ve been waiting for this moment since I went to my first Hill Climb 12 years ago. I’m just so happy to be up here.”
A number of records were set in other classes:
Woodland Park, Colo.’s Clint Vasholtz and Layne Schranz of Leeds, Ala., both broke the Super Stock Class record, with Vasholtz winning the class in 11:33.320 and Schranz finishing with a time of 11:33.395.
Davey Durelle won his 14th career title at the race after taking the 250 cc Motorcycle Class with a record time of 12:27.239. The Time Attack Class record also fell when Jeff Zwart powered his 2007 Porsche across the finish line in 11:31.095.
Last updated: 1:59 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012