Dale Earnhardt Jr. has won for the third time in 2014.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has won the GoBowling.com 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Pocono, completing the Pocono sweep. The win is his third of the season and the fifth-straight Pocono victory for Hendrick Motorsports. After the race, Earnhardt spoke to team owner Rick Hendrick via phone.
"Just thanked him for how he's changed my like and how he's supported me," Earnhardt said. "He just puts great people in the right places. He has a knack for what he's doing."
I just drove it in there, and we were able to clear him (Harvick), somehow.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet of Kevin Harvick finished second, overcoming a pit road speeding penalty on lap 96 of the 160-lap race and then damage obtained during a multi-car crash on lap 116. The No. 22 Team Penske Ford of Joey Logano was third, the No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota of Clint Bowyer fourth, and the No. 16 Roush Fenway of Greg Biffle rounded out the top-five.
The rest of the top ten was filled out by Jeff Gordon, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin, and Kasey Kahne. This is the third time in Earnhardt's 14 year career that he's won at least three races in a single season. This victory is the 22nd of his career.
The battle for the win
Earnhardt took the lead from Biffle with 13 laps to go after a late-race strategy call threw him into contention. After losing the lead, Biffle began to drop, quickly giving up second to Harvick. The yellow flag waved for the eighth and final time with seven laps to go when Kurt Busch got into the wall.
That caution set the race up for a three-lap sprint to the finish with Earnhardt and Harvick restarting on the front row. The two leaders pulled away from the rest of the field, creating a two-car battle for the win. Harvick got close to the bumper of the No. 88, but was never able to make a move.
"With Kevin, I'm racing one of the best," Earnhardt said. "I just drove it in there, and we were able to clear him, somehow."
Threat of rain and lead changes
There was a 50 percent chance of rain in the area throughout most of the afternoon, so teams raced with one eye on the track and one on the sky, but the rain never came. As a result of the inclement weather threat, pit strategies varied throughout the pack.
Logano took the lead from the the pole-sitting No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet of Kyle Larson at the start, leading most of the early laps. Jeff Gordon and Kurt remained in control for most of the race before pit strategies unfolded at the end and put Greg Biffle on point. There were ten different leaders during the race.
The five drivers currently in the Chase without a win include Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Larson, and Greg Biffle.