Johnson Takes Advantage Of Throttled Back Toyotas

CHARLOTTE, NC (June 10, 2013) – Did Jimmie Johnson have 10 extra horsepower Sunday at Pocono?

Well, maybe not 10, but he sure had more steam under the hood of his Chevrolet than his biggest rivals this season – Toyota drivers Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth.

Thanks to a more conservative tuning package, Busch, Kenseth and the rest of the Toyota crowd couldn’t even sniff Johnson’s exhaust in the Party At The Poconos NASCAR Sprint Cup event. Given none of the Fords – or the rest of the Chevys haven’t been able to run with Johnson this season – the results were predictable as ‘Five Time’ dominated Sunday leading 128 of the 160 laps contested.

Johnson got the boost in performance without even touching his car when Toyota implemented a general detuning of their Toyota Racing Development (TRD) Sprint Cup engines prior to the Pocono event. The Toyotas have been the fastest iron on the Sprint block this season, but have also had several valve train related failures limiting their success.

In an effort to identify the problem, Toyota throttled back their powerplants hoping the adjustments would improve reliability without compromising performance.

The results were predictable.

Busch, the series leader in laps led this season with 963, and Kenseth, who has paced 948 circuits this year, were never in the mix at Pocono Sunday. Busch managed to horse his plug to a sixth-place finish Sunday. Kenseth, meanwhile, still suffered engine problems despite the detuning and limped to a 25th-place finish

Neither led a single lap. In fact, no Toyotas were scored at the front of the pack in Sunday’s Pocono event..

With Toyota’s performance potential intentionally thinned, the Chevy brigade dominated the race taking 10 of the top 14 spots. Even season also-rans Jeff Burton, Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya notched top-15 performances in their Chevys.

Meanwhile, Johnson – the baddest Chevy on the NASCAR planet – had his number stuck at the top of the leaderboard throughout the day turning ‘The Party At Pocono’ into ‘The Snoozefest at Pocodoze.”

Unfortunately, you can expect more of the same this coming weekend at Michigan as Toyota has indicated it will continue to whoa down their engines in an effort to buy time for its brain trust to identify and fix their powerplant problems.

You know that Johnson, who is already 51 points ahead in the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season championship standings (more than one full race worth of points), has to be excited about that.

Rising Star

In case you hadn’t noticed, the next biggest star on the NASCAR horizon is Chase Elliott.

Elliott scored his latest victory Saturday capturing the ARCA race at Pocono. He started shotgun on the field after qualifying was washed out and still managed to drive to the front and win. In doing so, Elliott – just 17 years old – became the youngest superspeedway winner in the history of the ARCA division.

Elliott’s Pocono triumph comes on the heels of a solid fourth-place run in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Dover last week. Elliott, who can’t compete in NASCAR events on oval tracks more than a mile in length until he turns 18, has finished no worse than sixth in his three Truck Series events this year.

The son of NASCAR legend Bill Elliott, Chase Elliott has been driving and winning top late model stock car events since he was 14. Wins in the prestigious Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, FL and the World Crown 300 at Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson, GA already mark his racing resume.

A real talent behind the wheel – not just another famous driver’s son riding daddy’s coattails and money to the big leagues – Elliott is also personable and camera friendly off the track. It’s a combination that could make him a massive star at NASCAR’s highest levels for years to come.

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