June 28 – – Jimmie Johnson paced the field in both practice sessions on Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. That turned out to be foreboding as Johnson made a late pass on Kurt Busch to win his 52nd career race on the 1-mile oval. Since New Hampshire in the first race in the Chase, make no mistake that Johnson will be the driver to beat — both at Loudon and for the title.
For Jeff Gordon, a solid 4th place finish should serve him well when the series returns to New Hampshire Motor Speedway in mid-September. Gordon started 16th and lost three spots before the tire pressures came up. Gordon then moved back into the 16th position on lap 7. One lap later he took 15th from David Ragan. On lap 14, he passed Paul Menard and Marcos Ambrose to move into the 13th spot. Gordon gained two more spots on lap 18 with passes on Jeff Burton and Brad Keselowski. He entered the top-10 on lap 22 by taking the low line in the corner to pass Joey Logano. Three laps later he took 9th from Sam Hornish. The caution flag waved on lap 35 for debris on the track. Gordon came to pit road for four tires and departed in 12th place due to several drivers opting for two tires. Gordon re-entered the top-10 on lap 40, and took 8th from Joey Logano on lap 43. However, his forward march stalled as Burton took 8th on lap 50. Ten laps later, Mark Martin pulled to the inside on the backstretch and allowed Gordon to move into 7th place. On lap 85, he got a strong run off turn two and took 6th from Kyle Busch. Gordon came in for a green flag pit stop on lap 108 and cycled through in 6th. On lap 121, he took 5th place from Tony Stewart.
At the halfpoint point, Gordon passed Juan Pablo Montoya for the 4th position. Gordon came to pit road for tires under green on lap 179 complaining of a loose handling condition. Following the cycle of stops, Gordon ran in 6th place. On lap 208, he took 5th from Kasey Kahne who was experiencing engine problems. Gordon fell back to 6th on lap 230 when Jimmie Johnson went by. However, he moved back into 5th when Tony Stewart pitted under green on lap 235. The caution waved on lap 236 when Kahne’s engine blew. Gordon came to pit road for tires and departed in 4th place. On lap 248, Montoya slid into Gordon in turn three and pushed him up the track — putting him back to 6th place. Gordon muscled his way around Montoya into 5th on lap 250. Kurt Busch eventually passed to put Gordon back in 6th. With 20 to go, Montoya wrecked in turn three after Reed Sorensen moved up the track. Gordon came to pit road and opted for two tires. He restarted in 4th with 13 to go. Johnson took the race lead from Burton and pulled away, while Gordon fell back to 5th. Two laps later he moved back to 4th when Burton and Kyle Busch spun in turn four to bring out a caution. Gordon moved to 3rd on the restart just before Kurt Busch nudged Johnson out of the lead. Stewart took the 3rd spot from Gordon with 6 to go with a strong move in turn two. With 2 to go, Johnson re-took the lead from Busch en route to the win.