Pocono Raceway is one of the more unique tracks on the schedule, but Jimmie Johnson was able to survive the test of stamina and equipment to steal the show and win the Party in the Poconos 400 with a proper burnout, courtesy of Hendrick Motorsport’s official Twitter account:
Johnson led 128 of 160 laps on Sunday and held on to his 63rd career victory despite the late surge from Greg Biffle and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Biffle finished just 1.209 seconds behind the eventual winner.
Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively.
Full 2013 Pocono 400 Results
|3||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||0|
|14||Juan Pablo Montoya||0|
|23||Martin Truex Jr.||0|
|26||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||0|
*Visit NASCAR.com for results and race times.
What makes Pocono Raceway so difficult to handle is the fact that the course has three complexly different corners that require three different types of setups. Those differences always cause handling problems, and that was the case again Sunday.
The field started the race off cleanly, with all drivers focusing on getting their own cars performing their best as the track and weather changed throughout the day.
Teams began making green-flag pit stops at Lap 25, and the running order shuffled over the next seven laps while drivers like Brad Keselowski stayed out to ensure they led a lap and got the bonus points for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Jimmie Johnson continued to lead the race coming out of the first set of green-flag stops, per NASCAR Stats, and the clean racing continued. As teams started to adapt to how the track was changing with more rubber put into it with every passing lap, the second set of green-flag pit stops began.
Lap 54 marked the start of the next pit stops, and after five laps, the entire field had stopped once again for gas and tires. As the field began to get ready for another extended green-flag run, a caution came out on Lap 66 for debris in Turn 1, per NASCAR Stats:
It was during those yellow-flag stops that there was a close call between Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski on pit road, as NASCAR’s official Twitter account pointed out:
After the restart opened up the field once again—racing at Pocono is notorious for long stretches of green-flag racing—the drivers settled into their running order and maintained the pace until the field was once again forced to make stops under the green flag around Lap 100.
The stops cycled through, and Ryan Newman and the No. 39 team took the lead for a short time. But Johnson ultimately jumped back in front.
Another caution came out on Lap 125 for fluid on Turn 3 coming into the pit lane, and teams took the opportunity to fill up their tanks and change tires. The field restarted once again, and the racing got fierce.
That hard racing brought out the caution on Lap 133 when the No. 42 car and Juan Pablo Montoya contacted the No. 22 car and Matt Kenseth, according to NASCAR:
The field saw another quick caution after coming to the green flag, and the drivers restarted with 20 laps to go. Yet another caution came out with just 12 laps remaining, and once again the field was stacked back up.
With nine laps to go, it was teammates Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. who were ready to race for the win, per NASCAR:
As well as many cars run Sunday, the win for Johnson and the utter domination all day proves he was the top driver at Pocono this week.
Update 2013 Sprint Cup Standings
Driver and Team
Jimmie Johnson, No. 48, Chevrolet
Carl Edwards, No. 99, Ford
Clint Bowyer, No. 15, Toyota
Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88, Chevrolet
Kevin Harvick, No. 29, Chevrolet
Matt Kenseth, No. 20, Toyota
Kyle Busch, No. 18, Toyota
Kasey Kahne, No. 5, Chevrolet
Brad Keselowski, No. 2, Ford
Greg Biffle, No. 16, Ford
Jeff Gordon, No. 24, Chevrolet
Paul Menard, No. 27, Chevrolet
*Complete standings found at NASCAR.com.
Now that Pocono’s June race is out of the way, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Michigan International Speedway for a Father’s Day spectacular.
With a field full of stars looking to build off their momentum—or come back from a porous finish—from Pocono, next week's race should be just as exciting as Sunday's event.