Jimmie Johnson wins, Dale Earnhardt Jr. finishes third at Pocono
LONG POND, Pa. – Jimmie Johnson, the driver of the No. 48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS, scored his third career victory at Pocono Raceway on Sunday afternoon, leading 128 laps. With today’s win, Johnson becomes the fourth active driver to score three or more victories at the Tricky Triangle; joining Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon (six wins), Denny Hamlin (four wins) and Bobby Labonte (three wins).
Joining Johnson inside the top five was Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. who finished third. Teammates Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne finished 12th and 36th, respectively.
Here is the race recap by team:
Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet SS
Race finish: 36th.
Recap: Kasey Kahne rolled off from the seventh position on Sunday afternoon at Pocono Raceway. Within the first lap, Kahne reported to crew chief Kenny Francis that he felt something vibrating and it was hindering his ability to get up to speed. As a result, Kahne was forced to drive the No. 5 Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet SS into the garage area on Lap 4 so the crew could inspect the car and determine the problem. After spending more than 20 laps behind the wall, the Hendrickcars.com team did not find anything wrong with the No. 5 Chevrolet SS and Kahne was able to rejoin the field at Lap 25, trailing teammate and race leader Jimmie Johnson by 21 laps. From that point on, Kahne reported that the vibration problem had disappeared and for the remainder of the race, he was consistently clocking in lap times faster than the rest of the field. After rejoining the field in 43rd at Lap 25, Kahne was able to gain seven positions on track, earning valuable positions and championship points. When the checkered flag waved, Kahne crossed the finish line 36th.
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Axalta Coating Systems Chevrolet SS
Race finish: 12th.
Recap: Jeff Gordon started the 400-mile event at Pocono Raceway from the 11th position on Sunday afternoon. The driver of the No. 24 Axalta Coating Systems Chevrolet SS battled a loose-handling condition on the slick 2.5-mile triangular track while maintaining his position inside the top 15 just prior to the first round of green-flag pit stops. Following the first caution period of the afternoon – a Lap 65 debris caution- crew chief Alan Gustafson called the No. 24 Chevy SS into the pits for four tires and adjustments that seemed to improve the overall handling of the car. Gordon would remain inside the top 15 throughout much of the remainder of the event, running as high as 11th. At the end of the day, Gordon was able to overcome three restarts within the final 20 laps to bring the No. 24 Chevy SS home with a 12th place finish.
Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS
Race finish: First.
Recap: Jimmie Johnson started from the pole position on Sunday afternoon at Pocono Raceway after rain washed out qualifying on Friday. From the drop of the green flag, Johnson had the No. 48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS out front in the lead, pulling out to more than a four second lead just prior to the first round of green flag pit stops. Following the first caution period of the 400-mile event – a Lap 65 debris caution – crew chief Chad Knaus called Johnson into the pits for a two-tire change. Lining up second on the ensuing restart, Johnson wasted little time regaining the lead, moving out to a margin of seven seconds over Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. Johnson would remain out front throughout the following green flag run and after a two-tire change during the second caution period of the afternoon for fluid on the racetrack at Lap 124. In the end, Johnson was able to overcome a flurry of late race restarts to score his third career victory at Pocono Raceway and his first at the 2.5-mile triangular track since 2004. With the win, Johnson becomes the fourth active driver to score three or more victories at Pocono and ties Matt Kenseth for the league lead in wins with three apiece.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS
Race finish: Third.
Recap: Dale Earnhardt Jr. lined up sixth on Sunday afternoon and was running inside the top five by the completion of the first lap. The driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS battled a both a tight- and loose-handling condition for the majority of the 400-mile event, but crew chief Steve Letarte continually worked with Earnhardt to get the car’s handling consistent with the slick track throughout the afternoon. Earnhardt kept the No. 88 Chevy SS inside the top five for much of the middle portion of the race, running as high as second behind teammate Jimmie Johnson. Following a Lap 124 caution for fluid on the racetrack, Earnhardt came to pit road for a four-tire change and adjustments. On the ensuing restart, the No. 88 Chevy SS had moved into the third position and remained there until the caution came back out on Lap 132. Following back-to-back caution flags, Earnhardt was able to maneuver his way into the second position after a three-wide move into turn one. He would remain inside of the top three for the rest of the race, coming home with a third place finish. With the finish, Pocono Raceway becomes the 11th track on the Cup schedule where Earnhardt has scored 10 or more top-10 finishes.