Dale Earnhardt Jr., driving the #88 Michael Baker International Chevrolet, won the 41st Annual GoBowling.com 400 at the Pocono Raceway. Earnhardt Jr. bested the second place driver Kevin Harvick by 0.228 second and with this victory Earnhardt Jr. completes the Pocono sweep, winning both races of the season at the Tricky Triangle.
Earnhardt Jr. has 3 victories for the 2014 season, and as it stands Earnhardt Jr. will be the leader when the points reset for the beginning of the Chase for the Championship for the final 10 races. Earnhardt Jr. has 22 wins in 526 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races and is his second season track sweep, his first coming at Talladega in 2002.
“We had a fast car all day,” said Earnhardt Jr. in victory lane. “Steve’s (Letarte, crew chief) strategy was perfect at the end… That was pretty awesome, it takes a really, really smart guy to understand what to do and take those gambles. I can’t believe we swept Pocono.”
“Just trying to hold him (Harvick) off at the end, they were faster and I was overdriving it there. Kevin was getting me in Turns 1 and 2, I could get him through the tunnel and (turn) 3, I had the better car on the long straight,” said Earnhardt Jr.
Earnhardt Jr. was leading the race over second by 3 ½ seconds at the moment of caution with 8 laps to go and with 4 laps to go Earnhardt Jr. on the outside lined up next to Harvick for the final restart of the race. Harvick was able to stay with Earnhardt Jr. during the final 2 laps with Earnhardt Jr. rounding each of Poconos three turns nearly perfectly as Harvick gained in Turns 1 and 2.
Pocono is not known for ‘The Big One’ as the superspeedways of Talladega and Daytona, but after the restart for Jimmie Johnsons wreck, Denny Hamlin got loose when Clint Bowyer took the air off the side of the car, Brian Vickers swerved to miss the wreck as Matt Kenseth bumped the back causing a chain reaction that included the drivers Kenseth, Vickers, Brad Keselowski, Harvick, Michael Annett, Tony Stewart, whose car landed on top of the #27 of Paul Menard, Aric Almirola, A.J. Allmendinger, Justin Allgaier, Martin Truex Jr. and Carl Edwards, who drove down low and hit the storm drain.
Earnhardt Jr. led once during the race for the final 14 laps of the scheduled 160 after motoring pass Greg Biffle. Hendrick Motorsports has won the last 5 races held at Pocono Raceway and teammate Jeff Gordon, coming of off his win at The Brickyard, led the most laps of the day at 63 laps, set two other records with 24,000 career laps led in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and 1,000 laps led at Pocono Raceway.
“I needed to not have a banged up car (to catch Earnhardt),” Harvick said. “This hasn’t been one of my best tracks. I made a lot of mistakes today, especially with that pit road speeding penalty, and they made up for it with a fast racecar.”
After rebounding from a midrace speeding penalty Harvick finished second, Joey Logano finished third, with Clint Bowyer in fourth and Greg Biffle in fifth. With the top-10 finishers at Pocono listed in order 6th-10th as Gordon, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin and Kasey Kahne.
The Cheez-It 355 at The Glen will be televised, Sunday, August 10, on ESPN with coverage beginning for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at 1 p.m. ET. Qualifying for the road course will be held Saturday, Aug. 9, at 11:30 a.m. ET on ESPN 2.