Johnson dominates at Pocono
LONG POND, Pa. (AP) — Jimmie Johnson absolutely dominated Sunday at Pocono Raceway for his third victory of the season.
The Sprint Cup points leader, Johnson pulled away on both of the last two restarts over the final 10 laps to pull into Victory Lane at Pocono for the first time since he swept both races in 2004.
Johnson also won the Daytona 500 and at Martinsville Speedway this season. He led 128 of 160 laps for his 63rd career Cup victory, and was never seriously challenged a week after his run at a possible win at Dover International Speedway was taken away by a penalty off a restart.
Greg Biffle was second and Dale Earnhardt Jr., Johnson’s teammate, was third. Dover winner Tony Stewart was fourth, followed by fellow Stewart-Haas Racing driver Ryan Newman.
“I really didn’t have anything for Jimmie,” Biffle said. “Jimmie was in a league of his own.”
Johnson started first and won from the pole after rain washed out qualifying Friday.
He could be celebrating back-to-back wins had it not been for a pass-through penalty last week in the final laps at Dover. NASCAR penalized him for jumping leader Juan Pablo Montoya off the restart with 19 laps left and he finished 17th.
It was a rare misstep for the five-time champion but he rebounded just fine at Pocono. He pretty much only lost the lead because of pit stop cycles.
After only one caution in the first 125 laps, they came in bunches over the last 35. Johnson held off Earnhardt with nine laps left and pulled away one more time with four to go.
“He’s one of the best drivers this sport has ever seen,” Earnhardt said.
Earnhardt would love a repeat of last season when he was in contention at Pocono before settling for eighth, then won the next week at Michigan International Speedway. He wasn’t won since — and Michigan is on deck.
“We want to get a win, man,” Earnhardt said. “I can see it right there in front of me. I really thought we got close.”
Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano rounded out the top 10.