Penn 500 win gives Johnson clean sweep at Pocono

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 2, 2004

LONG POND, Pa. - Jimmie Johnson pulled off a clean sweep at Pocono Raceway.

Johnson dominated at the track for the second time in seven weeks, building on his NASCAR Nextel Cup points lead and winning the Pennsylvania 500 on Sunday in a race that further shuffled the rest of the standings.

''That race car was incredible,'' said Johnson, who's the first driver to win the Pocono 500 and Pennsylvania 500 in the same year since Bobby Labonte in 1999.

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Under the old points system, Johnson probably could have cruised toward his first career points title. Instead, he'll be lumped with the rest of the drivers in the top 10, along with any others within 400 points of the lead after the 26th race, to compete for the championship over the last 10 races of the season.

The ''Chase for the Cup'' begins at New Hampshire International Speedway on Sept. 19.

Mark Martin continued a recent string of solid finishes by placing second, and Kasey Kahne was third. Greg Biffle and Jeff Gordon rounded out the top five.

''I don't know if anyone can beat Jimmie Johnson here right now,'' said Gordon, who moved to second in the standings.

While Johnson cruised, some of the big names in the top 10 struggled. Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Bobby Labonte and Kurt Busch all failed to finish while Ryan Newman was 13th.

Harvick fell from ninth overall to 10th after failing to finish a race for the first time since October 2002 in Atlanta. Labonte dropped from seventh to ninth overall, while Newman jumped from 10th to eighth.

Jeremy Mayfield, Kahne and Martin all got closer to that 10th and final spot.

''That fact is a miracle,'' Martin said. ''Now can we make it to the top 10? We all need to go win the Brickyard. That would make up for all the heartbreak we experienced this year.''

Dale Earnhardt Jr., with second-degree burns on his legs, neck and chin from a crash two weeks ago during a sports car event, started the race to get the championship points but gave up the seat after completing 52 laps to John Andretti.

Andretti made another quick pit stop to readjust, but finished 25th after the car was black-flagged by NASCAR for not maintaining the minimum speed.

''I could have run the rest of the way, but the car was so bad, there was no use in me being in there wasting my time,'' Earnhardt said. ''I should be out of the car trying to get better.''