The final lap of the 400-mile NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Pocono Raceway is complete, and without surprise, Jimmie Johnson took his dominating No. 48 Chevrolet over the start/finish line first. Jimmie and team were tops in practice and best in race performance.
Johnson and team have padded their point margin to a big 51 over second-place Carl Edwards and the No. 99 team. All other teams trail by many more points and look up to Johnson.
The top 12 drivers will forfeit points and line up for the Chase for the Sprint Cup 10-race playoff that begins after the Richmond race in September.
Right now, eight NSCS drivers have wins in 2013. Wins transfer to bonus points. Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth have three wins each now, giving them even more confidence going forward.
Johnson has a ton or two of momentum on his side, but all teams leave Pocono for race 15 in Michigan next week, and math is on their side. The NSCS season has 22 races remaining, and much can happen.
Comments from the top three at Pocono (Jimmie Johnson, Greg Biffle and Dale Earnhardt Jr.) and from the rebounding Tony Stewart might enlighten fans about Pocono and beyond.
Jimmie Johnson commented on his proficient car.
"Great race car, clearly. I mean, that car had a ton of speed in it, and not only the car but I think our engine really had a chance to shine today."
"I used to have favorites, but things changed so much now, even though NASCAR has worked very hard to make the chassis the same and the bodies the same, we're now splitting hairs and making small revisions to cars and improving them that I don't know what car I am climbing in anymore, and that's a testament to Chad and my guys because I just show up and pull in tight and go."
Johnson was happy to talk about his team.
"They grow stronger and stronger each week, and I know there's a bright light on those guys and what they do week in and week out. They're strong, and they elevate their teammates, as well. They're great teammates, they help us out. But they're clicking. They're doing a great job."
Johnson and team have a lot of eyes on them in the garage from fans and other teams as well. They have many secrets, no doubt, but words from an honest guy like Johnson might help fans understand why they are dominant.
"There are a lot of times when you work on your stuff and you test and you race and you build some theories, and that's all we do week in and week out as to why the car is tight or why it's loose. Sometimes your theories play out and you're smart and you're here in victory lane and other times they don't. I feel like we have a clearer vision now of what the car wants, what this Gen‑6 car wants and we're getting smarter and smarter with it, and that leads into stretches where you can click off the wins and the finishes."
Greg Biffle and the Ford teams haven’t excelled with the new Gen-6 car, but they have maintained. Teammate Carl Edwards is still in second place in the points, and Biffle moved back up into Chase territory with his runner-up showing in Pocono. He shared words about the season and chasing Johnson. .
"We’ve really struggled this season, but once we got some track position we were pretty good. The 48 was definitely in a league of his own today. We probably need to work on our car a little bit better."
"The only thing I could do was give him a little shove or tap and wiggle him and try and get going. That’s the only way somebody was gonna beat him today, and I was willing to try anything I could, but I just didn’t get close enough."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is a fan favorite for sure. He gave up his thoughts for them after a good third-place day on the Tricky Triangle.
"We knew we had a good car. The last restarts were kind of tough. Being on the inside on the front row, really ain't the catbird seat. The guys behind you can get good runs on you and put you three wide, and I was just really more in defense mode there."
"It really comes down to who's got the best-handling car to be honest with you, and Jimmie had the best-handling car by far today."
"Just looking forward to next week going to the Michigan track. We run good there."
"Hopefully we can do this throughout the summer and get ourselves in the Chase pretty comfortably. We got a little work to do to get to where some of the other guys are. But we're happy about today."
Tony Stewart and his SHR team have been struggling in 2013, but his win in Dover and good results in Pocono have Stewart—who does well in summer—pumped.
"It's one thing if one car runs good, but to have two or all three of us running good shows that we are gaining momentum. It's not just one team, the whole organization is gaining momentum. Really proud of our group at SHR."
"I mean, fourth and fifth today is something for our whole organization to be proud of.
The good thing is all three of us are getting better at the same time. Really shows the works that SHR is doing.”
With that, summer racing continues.
FYI WIRZ is the select presentation of topics by Dwight Drum at Racetake.com. Unless otherwise noted, information and all quotes were obtained from personal interviews or official release materials provided by sanction and team representatives.
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