Johnson crashes Party in the Poconos 400
The Scoop: Jimmie Johnson wins 3rd race of season, winning from the pole at Pocono Raceway. Pretty much, the lead only changed during pit road sequences, tough Ryan Newman (finished 5th) gained track position and the lead by not pitting at one point. The only real passing was during restarts, but the tepid action during the race was not a total surprise. Johnson led 128 of the race's 160 laps. A couple of late cautions forced Johnson, who lost last week's Dover race by jumping a restart, to continuously thwart Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished 3rd. Greg Biffle surged from 4th to 2nd on the final restart and last week's winner, Tony Stewart, finished 4th. Toyota's engine reliability issues seemed fixed this weekend, as TRD likely tuned down their performance to preserve reliability. Matt Kenseth looked strongest of that camp, but Juan Pablo Montoya spun him late and Kenseth sunk to 25th. Brad Keselowski nearly wrecked Stewart and himself and only managed 16th, after running top 10 all day. Denny Hamlin still sits 24th in points and 76 points from 20th, after running a solid, but pedestrian 8th at one of his best tracks. The race saw six cautions, two for debris and four for crashes.
140 or less: Johnson dominates, is king of Pocono mountain. 400 miles just as boring as 500. #SummerStretch.
Handsome Boy Modeling School Stud of the Race: Jimmie Johnson - Because no one else matters. Led 80% of the race - and didn't botch a restart.
North Korean Missile Dud: Mark Martin - He lost this race by the hair of Joey Logano's bumper one year ago, but was a non-factor this time around. He managed 19th.
Never Fear, Underdogs Are Here: Travis Kvapil - BK Racing has been snake bitten in 2013 with crashes and mechanical issues, but Kvapil put the No. 93 Toyota in 20th by race's end at a track where horsepower, aerodynamics, and handling are as key as they are anywhere.
You Can Comeback, But You Can't Stay Here: Kevin Harvick - NASCAR penalized Harvick for speeding on a late pit stop and the No. 29 fell to 26th. He finished 9th, which is big, as drivers near him in points are so close. Harvick's teammate Jeff Burton gets a mention for placing 10th, after starting 24th. Richard Childress Racing may not be "back," but it seems to be running better. Paul Menard had another mediocre race, but had issues at the end and finished 30th. That drops Menard to 12th in points and his zero in the wins column puts his Chase hopes very much in the balance.
Wheel of Misfortune: Matt Kenseth - Last week his motor failed him. This week, Juan Pablo Montoya did. Montoya's bobble and spin collected the No. 20 and relegated Kenseth to 25th. He had been top 5 all day.
Head-Scratcher Crown of Thorns: JTG Daugherty Racing - The team announced this week that A.J. Allmendinger would replace Bobby Labonte for five races, so they could evaluate their program. Labonte is undoubtedly not the driver he used to be, but is Allmendinger necessarily enough of an improvement to slight a former champ? Labonte has started 702 consecutive races in the Cup Series...which doesn't happen very often. Where will he race? JTG Daugherty Racing suffers from the same problem that any team its size does: they are out-manned and out-spent. Labonte doesn't necessarily deserve that ride anymore, but he at least deserves an opportunity to finish the season with dignity and keep his streak alive. So far, there is no word on if a smaller team will allow him to slide in and race next week.
Ghost Driver: Anyone, but Johnson - Pretty much. No one had a thing for the 48. That's racing sometimes.
Georgia on My Mind: Chase Elliott made big waves at Pocono, winning his first-career ARCA race and becoming the youngest superspeedway winner in that series. Elliott is 17 and ran impressively in the Dover Truck Series race last weekend. The Hendrick development driver turns 18 in November. David Ragan had mechanical problems, sending him to the garage. He rejoined the race and placed 37th. The Nationwide Race in Iowa brought a good showing for Reed Sorenson - 15th. Ken Butler III's season-debut in the SR2 Motorsports No. 24 Toyota was a struggle - eight laps down in 26th. Butler III and brother Brett are set to split a handful of NNS races with SR2 in the coming weeks. The Camping World Truck Series Texas race saw four Georgia competitors. John Wes Townley (finished 15th), Ryan Sieg (16th), and Max Gresham (22nd) all lacked the handling to keep pace with the leaders, though they all started in the top 15. Conyers' Chris Cockrum ran an unsponsored race for SS/Greenlight Racing and placed the No. 07 28th in a start and park effort. Sieg, by the way, is impressively 14th in points.
NNS 140 Characters or Less: Rain clears and Trevor is Bayne of Dillon's existence. Newlywed in Iowa wins 2nd career race. Short tracks rule.
NCWTS 140 Characters or Less: Another Dillon dominates, but Jeb Burton takes Texas. First-career win. #WinOneForWahhhd
Next: The Sprint Cup Series stays in two-mile track mode, stopping in Michigan for next Sunday's 1 p.m. ET race on TNT. The Nationwide Series will race Saturday in the same digs (ABC, 2:15 p.m.). The Camping World Truck Series takes two weeks off and returns at Kentucky Speedway on June 27th.