LONG POND, Pa. – Jimmie Johnson simply would not be denied Sunday at Pocono Raceway.
One week after a controversial restart cost Johnson a victory at Dover (Del.) Int’l Speedway, the former Sprint Cup champion drove to a dominant victory Sunday in the Party in the Poconos 400. Johnson led 129 of 160 laps en route to his third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory of the 2013 campaign.
The first 124 laps went by quickly, with only one caution flag slowing the field during that time. But on lap 125 the first of five caution flags in the final 35 laps slowed the field. Under caution Johnson and most of the lead lap cars came down pit road, with Johnson winning the race off pit road after taking two tires.
Ryan Newman, who had pitted just before the caution on lap 125, stayed on track and inherited the lead. Johnson quickly reassumed the lead on the restart, overtaking Newman as the field flowed into turn one.
The caution flag waved again with 28 laps left when Matt Kenseth and Juan Pablo Montoya spun together in turn two. The field returned to green flag racing with 24 laps left, but one lap later the caution flag waved again when Dave Blaney crashed.
Johnson again maintained the lead on the following restart as Dale Earnhardt Jr. drove his Chevrolet into second. Johnson was pulling away from the field when the caution flag waved yet again for A.J. Allmendinger’s damaged Chevrolet.
With nine laps left the green flag waved again, but two laps later Blaney found the wall in turn three to bring out the final caution flag of the day.