Jimmie Johnson withstands multiple late restarts to win at Pocono

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One week after losing a potential victory at Dover on a restart penalty, Jimmie Johnson managed to stave off his rivals on multiple late restarts to win today’s Party in the Poconos 400 at Pocono Raceway.

Johnson had to contend with a vibration on his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet as well, but still was able to lead 129 of 160 laps. However, after a long run of mostly green-flag action, the race took on a disjointed feel with five caution periods within the final 35 circuits.

That enabled the front-runners to make it to the finish on fuel, but that also meant Johnson had to fend off repeated attacks on his lead when the green flag would come back out.

“Those restarts – man, there’s only so many tricks you have,” Johnson told TNT’s Marty Snider in Victory Lane. “[You have] to play by the rules. They were figuring out everything I could do in that [restart] zone, and fortunately, I was able to get the lead and everything worked out in the end.”

The final two restarts of the day had Johnson’s HMS teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr., poised to strike in second place after a quietly impressive afternoon. But each time, Johnson was able to hold off NASCAR’s most popular driver, and on the final restart, Greg Biffle managed to get past Earnhardt for second.

“We want to get a win,” said Earnhardt, who wound up third. “I could see it right there in front of me today. Jimmie had been so fast all weekend but I really thought we got close. If we keep getting closer, we’ll get one.”

As for Biffle, who vaulted from fourth to second on the final restart with four laps remaining, he felt that he didn’t have anything for Johnson but still wished he could’ve gotten closer to him.

“I was gonna have to get up beside him and take the air off him – something to try and get an advantage,” said Biffle. “But I gave him such a good push on the restart, I couldn’t catch up with him. When we got single-file, that was the first time I’d been up front and I thought my car would be good enough to try and catch him, but I couldn’t get him.”

Tony Stewart followed up his win one week ago with a solid fourth-place run, and his teammate Ryan Newman was right behind in fifth to mark a solid day for Stewart-Haas Racing.

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.