Current NASCAR Sprint Cup points leader Jimmy Johnson made the “Tricky Triangle” of Pocono Raceway look pretty easy as he grabbed his third win at the track and third win of the 2013 season in the Party in the Poconos 400.
Qualifying was rained out for Sunday (6/9) afternoon's race in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. That means the starting grid was set by the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings. Jimmie was the leader heading into the race at Pocono, so he was placed on the pole for the start of the race. Carl Edwards sat in second place in points and therefore was placed next to Jimmie on the front row for the start of the Party in the Poconos 400.
When the green flag waived to get the 400 mile race under way, Carl was able to get his #99 Ford out front to take the lead on lap one. Carl was able to keep that lead for the first nine circuits around Pocono. Jimmie was done following by lap 10. His #48 Chevrolet had been fastest in every way during practice for the race and on lap 10 Jimmie showed that it still was taking the lead away from Carl.
From lap ten of the 160 lap race, Jimmie would completely dominate the Party in the Poconos 400 Sunday afternoon. The five-time Sprint Cup Champion spent 80% of the race leading the field around the triangular shaped 2.5 mile track. Four drivers led the race with a total of 12 changes for the lead. Of those lead changes, Jimmie getting back out in front was six of them as he re-took the lead on his way to a race high 128 laps led. The next closest to Jimmie in laps led was Ryan Newman who was out front for a mere 19 times around Pocono.
There was only one caution period in the first 125 laps of the race. That was for debris on the track, which according to race announcers appeared to be some kind of blanket from the stands. The last 34 laps saw the yellow flag fly five more times. Ryan Newman stayed out on the track on the second caution to take the lead away from Jimmie for the last time. When the green flag waived following that caution Jimmie took the lead back on the re-start and held that lead for the final thirty laps including quickly grabbing the lead on each of the four re-starts to the end of the race.
When the #48 Chevrolet took the checkered flag it was the third time Jimmie had won a race both in the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season and at the Pocono Raceway. On the final re-start on lap 157, Greg Biffle made a daring charge to get into second place where he remained for the final four laps. Dale Earnhardt Jr. spent most of the afternoon in the top five and was able to capture third place for the day. Tony Stewart (who won the previous week’s race on the “Monster Mile” of Dover) made his car better all afternoon to move forward and finish in fourth place. Ryan Newman rounded out the top five in the race. See the complete race results for the Party in the Poconos 400 here.
Obviously by winning the race Jimmie Johnson held on to the NASCAR point lead after the race at Pocono Raceway. Carl Edwards and Clint Bowyer hold pat in second and third places respectively. Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s third place finish in the race was enough to move him up two spots in the points to fourth. Kevin Harvick remains in the fifth place in the point standings. See the complete NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings here.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup series heads to the backyard of car manufacturers Chevrolet and Ford for next week’s race. The top divers in racing will compete on the Michigan International Speedway Sunday, June 16th in the Quicken Loans 400.
By: Buck Stevens
(Featured image photo credit: NASCARMedia.com/286926Nick Laham/Getty Images)