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Now this thing should really spark some NASCAR ticket sales.....even for the most jaded stock car fans

Yes, Jimmie Johnson had a remarkably charmed Monday....and he had to work like hell for it too, like here, when Robby Gordon crashed (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   POCONO, Pa.
   Wild NASCAR racing?
   If you can't sell some NASCAR tickets this week, you'll never do it, not after Monday's amazingly wild Pennsylvania 500…at a track not normally known for such flat crazy action.
   Denny Hamlin beat Juan Pablo Montoya down the stretch, and it was Hamlin's first win in some 50 races, and it was emotional certainly.
   The two stories here – the wild action, and the surprisingly solid Monday crowd returning after Sunday's rainout.
   It was, perhaps, the perfect NASCAR race.
   And, uh, good seats will soon be available for next season's two Cup events here….at http://poconoraceway.com/
   Chevy stars Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin didn't have great finishes, and didn't have dominant cars…for a change.
   Johnson had engine problems midway through the four-hour race. But crew chief Chad Knaus proved the perfect doctor. Knaus finally figured out the solution, but Johnson was three laps down by then. But with good driving and good luck, Johnson fought back for a 13th place finish, incredible considering he ran 36th most of the day.
   If Knaus were a doctor, and you were really sick, he'd be the man to go to, after what he pulled off Monday to save Johnson's day.
   Gordon finished eight but was never really a factor: "It was a good car, definitely the best car we've had here in a while. I'm really excited about that…and that we've been able to make those kinds of improvements," Gordon said. "But the strategy and the track position didn't go our way today, so we ended up eighth."
    It was driver cool that made a difference perhaps…though it may takes a couple days to figure out what all really went on this Monday, in tactics and strategies.
   "Oh, I can't even explain to you how insane it was out there!" Gordon said.
   "And when you get guys that have no (fresh) tires, who have stayed out (on the track, not pitting, in order to get good track position), or (getting only) two tires, against guys that have four tires, it just shakes it up so much, because you've got such a speed difference…and guys trying to hang on to position, and guys fighting hard to get them.
    "I mean it was just nuts.
    "I saw so many guys rubbing, banging, smoking sideways, three-wide, four-wide -- and I was right in the middle of it at times as well.
    "It's not the most fun, but when you make it out of it, you're like 'Whew!'
     "And you know it's awesome racing to watch on TV and from the grandstands."
    Even teammates had troubles with each other, Gordon and Mark Martin hard at it, for one, Bobby Labonte and teammate David Ragan for another.
   After Ragan tagged Labonte late and sent him into the wall, Labonte was clearly shaken, physically, though he came through it okay. And he was also clearly hot, though he managed to hold his temper.
   "It's just hard racing that goes on out there, and we ended up on the short end of it," Labonte said. "After about eight or 10 laps there's not going to be much passing going on, so you've got to get while you can -- and you get on the restarts the best you can. So that leads to that."

   One of the big stories of the afternoon was Johnson – his comeback. He seemed doomed to a 30-something finish, after an engine problem sent him to the  back of the pack. And that could have cost him 100 points in the standings.
   But Johnson battled back and goes to Watkins Glen still second behind Tony Stewart, who managed to finish 10th, despite starting dead last and having an ill-handling backup car all afternoon.
   "I don't know yet but I assume it was a spark plug issue," Johnson said. "That's the last thing we started changing. And the car started running better.
    "It's just crazy how sometimes a little part like that can go wrong.
    "I know our guys will look closely at it to make sure something like that doesn't happen again."
    The diagnosis worked well. But Johnson still had to come back from three laps down, and that he did, well, that's the kind of off-day performance that can shake title rivals.
   "I'm just so proud of the fight this race team has," Johnson said. "For us to come back from three laps down and get back on the lead lap and salvage a 13th-place finish means a lot to me.
   "It shows me what my team is capable of, and I know what I'm capable of going into the chase.
    "We dealt with a lot. I have to thank my guys for trouble-shooting. We finally found the problem there at the end.
    "We were three laps down but able to get some cautions, and for a while I thought we would get a top-10 -- but I pounded the wall off turn two and tore up the right side of the car and lost a couple of spots."


When the hood goes up, it's not a good sign. But Dr. Chad Knaus found just the right cure for Jimmie Johnson's ills (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


Selling race tickets

I'll tell you what would certainly sell a lot more race tickets. Anyone in their right mind will buy a ticket to watch Kyle Busch finish outside the top ten. Loved the Pocono race. Any time Busch has a bad day, it's a good day for race fans.

Good driving by Johnson?????

The one and only reason why Johnson was even on the lead lap at the finish is because he was given the lucky dog three times. What a joke!!!!!

Pocono A Super Speedway In A Strong Demographic

I'm not surprised Pocono's crowd was strong - the PA-western NY region is a superb racing demographic, as opposed to Chicago, southern CA, Atlanta, the Northwest, and the NYC areas. The track itself is lightyears better than most - it's a superspeedway, it is ultra-wide, and for all the griping on the message boards about how "boring" it is, Pocono has a history of good racing. Sure, it can be banked like Talladega (does NASCAR have any computer sims of tracks if they were banked 33 or more degrees?) since it doesn't run Indycars or Modifieds anymore, but as it is the layout is great.

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