NASCAR & Auto Racing

Johnson pleased with Pocono finish

LONG POND, Pa. - Jimmie Johnson finished Sunday’s Pennsylvania 500 slightly better than where he started and that’s just fine by him.

Johnson had slipped from second to ninth in points over the past seven races through a variety of flat tires and freak accidents so a fifth place finish after starting seventh was a welcome respite.

“We keep looking back at the performances we’ve had and that’s kept our spirits very high. I would be lying if I said we weren’t looking at the points and getting concerned,” Johnson said.

“We’ve been running good so in our meeting (Sunday morning) we decided not to change anything and keep doing what we have been doing.”

Staying the course in this case was a good prescription.

Johnson moved up to spots to seventh and now has a 232-point cushion over 13th place with five races remaining before the field is set for the Chase for the Nextel Cup.

“We needed this really bad to stop the bleeding. With the competition as stuff as it is and everybody getting prepared for the Chase, I want to go in with a nice margin and not have to earn my way in through the last race,” Johnson said.