Jimmie Johnson claimed his third win of the season by putting on a dominating performance in Sunday's 400-mile Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway.
Johnson started on the pole and led 128 of 160 laps, but had to hold off the field during two restarts within the last 10 laps. The five-time series champion crossed the finish line 1.21 seconds ahead of second-place Greg Biffle. Johnson collected his 63rd career victory, including his third at this unique 2.5-mile triangular track. He won both races here during the 2004 season.
"That was the best car I've had in a long, long, long time," Johnson said. "It was not only a great race car but a great engine as well. I had fuel mileage and plenty of power. It was awesome on the straightaways today. I was able to do whatever I wanted around other race cars."
Johnson's victory at Pocono came one week after he lost an opportunity to win at Dover. During a restart with 19 laps to go there, Johnson had pulled ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya for the lead, but NASCAR officials ruled that Johnson jumped the restart and therefore penalized him with a pass through. He ended up finishing 17th, while Tony Stewart picked up his first win of the season.
"It doesn't make up for much," Johnson said. "We know we're a great race team. Those things won't keep us down."
Johnson's first two wins this season came in the Feb. 24 season-opening Daytona 500 and the April 7 race at Martinsville. He is now tied with Matt Kenseth for most victories in the series this season. Johnson started on the pole for this race since qualifying on Friday at Pocono was rained out.
"Jimmie was in a league of his own," Biffle said after his second-place run. "I was going to have to get up beside him and take the air off him. I had to do something to try and gain an advantage. But I gave him such a good push on the (last) restart that I couldn't catch back up to him."
Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is Johnson's teammate at Hendrick Motorsports, finished third, while Stewart and Ryan Newman from Stewart-Haas Racing rounded out the top-five.
"It's been a good weekend," Earnhardt said. "I was excited to run well. We had a good car all weekend. I'm glad we could get a good finish. Jimmie was much faster in turn 3. That's where you have to be good, and he was good there."
Kyle Busch finished sixth, followed by his elder brother, Kurt. Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano, who won this race one year ago, placed eighth through 10th, respectively. Logano was scheduled to compete in Saturday night's Nationwide Series race at Iowa, but that event was delayed one day due to rain, forcing him to miss it. Ryan Blaney took his place in the No. 22 Penske Racing car, driving it to a ninth-place finish. Trevor Bayne won it.
With the win, Johnson increased his points lead to 51 over Carl Edwards, who finished 18th. Johnson has now won three or more races in 11 of his 12 full- time seasons in NASCAR's premier series.