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Johnson in total control at Pocono

A week after losing out at Dover through a controversial restart penalty at Dover, Jimmie Johnson made sure nothing got in the way of victory at Pocono.
In a week of dominating performances - Sebastian Vettel in Montreal, Helio Castroneves in Texas - Jimmie Johnson's victory at Pocono Raceway stood shoulder to shoulder with the best of them as he powered his way to his third win of 2013 and opened up a chasm in the points standings over his nearest rival Carl Edwards.

It was Edwards alongside whom Johnson took the green flag for the start of the 'Party in the Poconos 400' at the 2.5-mile tri-oval on Sunday afternoon, after qualifying on Friday had been rained out leaving the cars lined up in points order for the start of the race. Johnson didn't get the best start which allowed Edwards to jump away and lead for the first nine laps of the race, but the five-time champion was soon back in his grove and passed the #99 to take the lead for the first time on lap 10.

After that, Johnson stayed out in front save for short periods during pit stop sequences that allowed Brad Keselowski and Ryan Newman to briefly head the field, but Johnson was always soon back in charge. Not even a debris caution on lap 67 broke his momentum for very long.

Seeing that the writing was on the wall, Ryan Newman realised that if anything were to be done about the #48's impending visit to victory lane then it would have to be the result of some strategic cunning, so he went off-sync with the pit stops and picked up the lead on lap 100. He maintained the top spot for the next 13 laps, the longest period all afternoon that Johnson hadn't taken point, but the Stewart-Haas Racing driver was reliant on there being a late caution or two to allow him to make the one extra pit top he still had to take, hopefully without too far back from the leaders in the process.

Newman's luck was in, and he got not one but five different cautions in the final 35 laps of the 168-lap event. The first was on lap 125 when the yellows came out for oil on the track: Newman led at the green flag, but it was Johnson who immediately seized back control.

A few minutes later, lap 133 saw Juan Pablo Montoya dive deep and hard into turn 2 in an effort to pass Matt Kenseth, but he couldn't hold the ambitious move and the two went for a synchronised spin that brought out the third yellow of the afternoon. Johnson survived another restart only to have the yellows out again on lap 138 when Dave Blaney went for a spin.

Two more restarts awaited Johnson - a caution on lap 148 for the #51 Phoenix Racing car of AJ Allmendinger lowing on the backstretch, and a final yellow on lap 154 for a second spin for Blaney - but the Hendrick Motorsport driver weathered them both imperiously without putting a foot wrong - perhaps making a point about last week, where a jump start penalty following a late caution at Dover International Raceway had cost him a likely victory.

No such chance here. Although Greg Biffle got a brilliant final restart that propelled him from fourth place past Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Busch into second place by the flag, he was still over a second off the leader and confessed that there had never been a realistic chance of stealing the win from Johnson this weekend.

"Jimmie was in a league of his own," said Biffle. "I was going to have to get up beside him, take the air off him - something to try and gain an advantage.

"But I gave him such a good push on the restart I couldn't catch back up with him," he added. "I couldn't get him."




Related Pictures

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Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Party in the Poconos 400 at Pocono Raceway on June 9, 2013 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.  (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Party in the Poconos 400 at Pocono Raceway on June 9, 2013 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane with his wife Chandra and daughter Genevieve Marie after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Party in the Poconos 400 at Pocono Raceway on June 9, 2013 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo Credit: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the NASCAR Sprint Cup #48 Lowe’s Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS won the Party In The Poconos 400 Sunday, June 9, 2013 at the Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. Extending his lead in the NASCAR Cup Series standings, this was Johnson`s third win of the season and his third Poconos Raceway victory. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett for Chevrolet)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, holds his daughter, Lydia Sunday, November 22, 2015 before final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Johnson and other Jeff Gordon teammates at Hendrick Motorsports wore tribute hats to honor the retiring Chevy driver prior to the start of the race. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, races to a sixth place finish Sunday, November 22, 2015 in the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Gordon finishes third in the Chase for the Cup Championship. This was Gordon`s last race as a NASCAR Sprint Cup driver. He has made 796 consecutive Cup Series starts, earned 93 wins, and 81 poles - all behind the wheel of Chevrolets. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Defending Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, races to a second place finish, Sunday, November 22, 2015 in the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Harvick finishes as the runner-up in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Defending Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, races to a second place finish, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS finishes in sixth place, and Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision finishes in twelfth place Sunday, November 22, 2015 in the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. This Chevrolet drivers finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th (respectively) in the Chase of the Cup Championship. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing Team battled back from a bad re-start after the first caution of the race to finish 17th in the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. (Photo Credit: Campbell Marketing)
Series championship contenders Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, take part in pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Former racing driver Mario Andretti, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, and Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton pose during pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
A general view as cars pit during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, and Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship and the race with a burnout after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship and the race in Victory Lane after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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