posted on Jun, 13 2004 @ 05:51 PM
this is from www.nascar .com it is the first time that i can remember that they have posted anything in the least critical of the nascar officials,
but this week even they implie it was a mess
Johnson wins confusing, caution-filled Pocono 500
By Dan Gelston, The Associated Press June 13, 2004
6:49 PM EDT (2249 GMT)
LONG POND, Pa. (AP) -- Jimmie Johnson used a near-flawless performance to overcome a NASCAR mistake, drawing closer to the points lead with a win
under caution Sunday at Pocono Raceway.
Jimmie Johnson puts his No. 48 Chevrolet out front. Credit; Autostock
Johnson controlled most of the Pocono 500 for his second win in three weeks and third this year. He's led 820 miles in the last three races and has
two more seconds in his last five.
Jeremy Mayfield, who has two of his three career victories at Pocono, finished second. He pushed Johnson hard inside and was about a car-length behind
when another yellow flag came out with three laps left.
Bobby Labonte, who won the 1999 Pocono 500 and the 1991 and 2001 Pennsylvania 500, was third.
Johnson put aside a disappointing 32nd-place finish last week at Dover, when he was one of the many causalities of a 19-car pileup that led to several
caution rules changes for this race.
Jimmie Johnson celebrates his ninth career Cup win
Jeremy Mayfield is pleased with his runner-up finish at Pocono
Kenseth and Harvick tangle, Johnson wins under caution
Ryan Newman is angry at Robby Gordon after wrecking
Wallace hits Waltrip from behind on lap 168
Wimmer slips on some oil bringing out the fifth caution
• Unofficial Results
• Unofficial Standings
At Pocono, he was almost a victim of NASCAR's ever-changing, and often confusing, rules.
The pit road official opened the service lane one lap too early during a late caution period. As a result, Johnson, the leader, was unable to pit
while most of the cars behind him did. He had to pit later and it cost him the front spot on the restart.
Johnson, though, raced his way back to the front, then built on his lead on several restarts on the 21/2-mile triangular track. He took the lead on
"We were just doing what we were told in the drivers meeting," Johnson said. "The first time I came by, the pits were open and it was a mistake by the
flag man on pit road. Luckily it cycled itself out, but for a time I was nervous."
After only three cautions in the first 100 laps, there were eight in the last 100. The most notable came when Rusty Wallace hit Michael Waltrip and
sent him into the wall. Both drivers were knocked out and Waltrip was furious.
"I am just amazed that somebody could do something that stupid," Waltrip said.
The race ended under caution because Dale Jarrett and Jeff Burton blew engines.
The 11 caution flags equaled the 11 last week at Dover. NASCAR president Mike Helton promised changes and explained several new rules to the drivers
at the pre-race meeting. There was still plenty of confusion, both by the drivers and NASCAR officials.
Kasey Kahne and Brian Vickers bring the field to the green flag. Credit: Autostock
Only Johnson, Terry Labonte and Jamie McMurray stayed on the track and followed the new rule correctly during the pit confusion.
Eventually, it paid off for Johnson.
Johnson now seems primed to make a serious run at leading the points race after the 26th race.
Series leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. came into the race with an 98-point lead in the standings. Earnhardt finished sixth and saw his lead over Johnson cut
Johnson is suddenly looking like the old Jeff Gordon, his mentor who co-owns the No. 48 Chevrolet. They also are teammates at Hendrick Motorsports.
Greg Biffle was among the leaders all day, finishing 12th. Credit: Autostock
Johnson's performance at Dover was only his fourth finish out of the top-10 this year. He also won at Darlington and had consecutive second-place
finishes leading up to his dominant performance at the Coca Cola 600 in Charlotte.
"The one in Charlotte was pretty good, but this one was right there with it," Johnson said.
Mark Martin, who snapped a 73-race winless streak last week, blew an engine and finished out of the running.
Ryan Newman also challenged Johnson for most of the second half of the race until Robby Gordon got loose and smacked him flush on the left side.
Newman's car limped to pit road, his car smoking.
But it's Johnson who's the hottest driver in NASCAR