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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."




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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)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, and Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, lead a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, passes Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, to take the lead and win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, and team owner Tony Stewart celebrate winning in Victory Lane after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with his wife DeLana and son Keelan in victory lane after winning during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with the trophy in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Marcos Ambrose, driver of the #9 Stanley Ford, poses with his team before his last race, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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