Dale Earnhardt Jr. took his 22nd career victory, and third for this season by winning Sunday’s Pocono 400 in Long pond,PA after careening past runner-up Kevin Harvick with only 3 laps to go following a restart of the race. This has been Earnhardt’s best year since 2004 when he took a career high of 6 races in one season. Kudos also go to Harvick who had fought hard to come back after a stop and go midrace penalty for speeding on pit road that had him (temporarily) near the back of the pack. The pair were followed by Joey Logano, who took 3rd, Clint Bowyer and Greg Biffle, 4th and 5th respectively. Although Jeff Gordon came in 6th in the race, he still holds a narrow points lead over Hendricks Motorsport teammate Earnhardt Jr. at 757 to 740 after 21 starts.
Rounding out the top five drivers in points standings so far are Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski with 687; Joe Gibbs Racing’s Matt Kenseth with 668 points; and Ryan Newman of Richard Childress Racing with 642. Harvick is 11th with 608 points.
In the meantime, Harvick’s Stewart-Haas teammate Danica Patrick was literally “slammed” by critics after coming in contact with the outside wall on lap 18 resulting in fender damage and a tire rub. Unfortunately the tire blew and she hit the SAFER Barrier going through the tunnel turn before being able to pit and severely damaged her No. 10 Chevy SS, something many feel could have been avoided if she had only slowed down after the tire rub was evident. Not only did her critics feel she could have avoided messing up her car, she could possibly have comeback for a “solid finish” the way Jimmie Johnson did after suffering his own tire issues. Instead she ended up 30th.