Dale Earnhardt Jr. Scores First Ever Pocono Win and Chase Berth to Boot

Dale Earnhardt Jr. may not have dominated the Pocono 400 race, but he was the one who took his No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet to Victory Lane after Brad Keselowski succumbed to trash on his grille and overheating issues.

This was Junior’s first win at Pocono Raceway and the first time that he has scored multiple wins in one season since 2004, when he won six times. Now that he has two wins, Earnhardt Jr. is guaranteed a spot in the Chase for the Championship for 2014.

“I’ve lost some in some strange ways, so it feels good to win one,” Dale Jr. said from Victory Lane. “We won the race and it goes in the books and helps us toward the Chase.”

“I’ve never won here,” Junior continued. “I can mark this one off.”

CarParts.com
Shop the NASCAR Justice League Collection
Shop for 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Gear at Store.NASCAR.com

Steve Letarte, crew chief, shared his driver’s sentiments in the media center after the race.

“It means the world to win races,” Letarte said. “We talk a lot about the Chase and points and they are important but when you’re little you just want to win.”

“You appreciate the wins when they come,” Letarte continued. “I don’t think we had the best car, but Dale drove a great race and we had a little luck on our side at the end.”

“This one fell our way and we’ll take it.”

After running so well and leading 95 laps, Brad Keselowski was visibly disappointed with his runner up finish, for the most part blaming himself for the decision to try to get the trash off his grille.

“First off, I’m really proud of the speed we had today,” Keselowski said. “But this one’s kind of on me and the circumstances.”

“I was trying to do something for me and to help the car out, the driver of the No. 2 Redd’s Ford continued. “I knew it was going to break and I was going to get passed. So, I was trying to make whatever move I could do to help clean it off.”

“I’m not sure I did enough to make a difference,” Keselowski said. “But I made enough of a difference to lose the lead in the process. I thought I had enough of a cushion. When I got down in the corner, the car got sideways and I realized I had made a mistake. It was too little too late.”

“The team did a heck of a job; I just messed up a little bit there. We had a really, really good car. It was really a flawless day other than my mess-up there.”

Kurt Busch, who started the race on the outside pole, finished third in his No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet. He was the highest finishing Stewart-Haas Racing driver as Tony Stewart finished 13th; Kevin Harvick finished 14th; and Danica Patrick finished 37th.

“Nice solid day. Top five car and we cashed in on a top five finish,” Busch said. “We were able to hold the track position and it was a solid execution. It was a nice turning of the page so to speak and a congratulations for shedding that new team skin.”

Kyle Larson, winner of the ARCA race the day before, finished fifth and was once again the top finishing rookie.

“It was a lot better finish than I thought that we were going to get,” the driver of the No. 42 Target Chevrolet said. “I knew from the drop of the green that we were going to be pretty good. Today I had a lot of grip and I knew that was a good sign.”

“We tried to put ourselves into position to get a better finish on that last restart and it all worked out,” Larson continued. “I’ll take a top five here at Pocono.”

Denny Hamlin, who started from the pole position, ended up taking the checkered flag in fourth in his No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota.

“We had great strategy, great pit stops,” Hamlin said. “Darian (Grubb, crew chief) and the guys really put a great FedEx Ground Toyota underneath me this evening. It’s a good run for us — two top-fives in a row for us this year all year and that’s not bad.”

“We had great strategy and I’m proud of the Camry our FedEx Ground crew put under me this week.”

While several of the cautions were due to debris on the track, as well as one bizarre caution for a grass fire in the infield in Turn 3, there was one very vicious wreck that occurred, involving the No. 5 of Kasey Kahne, the No. 18 of Kyle Busch and the No. 99 of Carl Edwards.

“Well I had just passed Kyle (Busch) and I caught (Ryan) Newman I was passing him off Turn 3,” Kahne advised. “We were side-by-side so Kyle was able to get a good draft down the straightaway. We got to Turn 1 and I was on the outside and then he knew if he didn’t clear me there then I would pass him back because I just had.”

“He just floored it and didn’t care there was someone out there and ran me right in the wall,” Kahne continued. “We both ended up wrecking. I think he wrecked a little bit, but I hit a good bit harder once we hit my car just went hard right.”

“I’m not sure what happened,” Edwards said. “Somehow Kasey hit the wall.”

“It’s just tough to run the whole race and miss the best part.”

Thanks to Jeff Gordon’s eighth place finish and the trouble of Matt Kenseth, who ran into Jamie McMurray early, damaging his nose and finishing 25th, Gordon re-assumed the points lead which he had lost after the Dover race.

The driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet is now sixteen points to the good of the driver of the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota.

“It was just kind of chaos,” Gordon said of his race. “I thought that we were consistent all day long and the pits tops were fantastic.”

“It was a great effort, great race car again.”

The full race results for the 33rd annual Pocono 400 are as follows:

Fin Str Car Driver Team Lap Pts BPts Status TLd LLd
1 8 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard Chevrolet 160 47 4 Running 3 11
2 3 2 Brad Keselowski Redd’s Ford 160 44 2 Running 4 95
3 2 41 Kurt Busch Haas Automation Chevrolet 160 42 1 Running 1 5
4 1 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Ground Toyota 160 41 1 Running 2 4
5 14 42 Kyle Larson # Target Chevrolet 160 40 1 Running 1 7
6 20 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet 160 39 1 Running 2 5
7 15 31 Ryan Newman Wix Filters Chevrolet 160 37 Running
8 5 24 Jeff Gordon Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet 160 37 1 Running 2 2
9 17 78 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Chevrolet 160 35 Running
10 18 1 Jamie McMurray Cushman/Cessna Chevrolet 160 34 Running
11 19 15 Clint Bowyer RK Motors Charlotte Toyota 160 33 Running
12 6 18 Kyle Busch M&M’s Peanut Butter Toyota 160 32 Running
13 12 14 Tony Stewart Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet 160 32 1 Running 4 24
14 4 4 Kevin Harvick Budweiser Chevrolet 160 30 Runnng
15 28 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Zest Ford 160 29 Running
16 13 16 Greg Biffle 3M Ford 160 28 Running
17 11 3 Austin Dillon # Dow Chevrolet 160 27 Running
18 32 34 David Ragan Taco Bell Ford 160 26 Running
19 9 55 Brian Vickers Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota 160 26 1 Running 1 1
20 30 7 Michael Annett # Pilot Flying J Chevrolet 160 24 Running
21 21 47 AJ Allmendinger Clorox Chevrolet 160 23 Running
22 22 43 Aric Almirola Nathan’s Famous Ford 160 22 Running
23 25 13 Casey Mears GEICO Chevrolet 160 21 Running
24 29 9 Marcos Ambrose Stanley Ford 160 20 Running
25 26 20 Matt Kenseth Dollar General Toyota 160 19 Running
26 23 27 Paul Menard Moen/Menards Chevrolet 160 18 Running
27 24 51 Justin Allgaier # BRANDT Professional Agriculture Chevrolet 160 18 1 Running 1 6
28 35 38 David Gilliland Long John Silver’s Ford 160 16 Running
29 33 32 Travis Kvapil Corvetteparts.net Ford 160 15 Running
30 40 26 Cole Whitt # Burger King Toyota 159 14 Running
31 34 23 Alex Bowman # Dr.Pepper Toyota 159 13 Running
32 41 83 Ryan Truex # Burger King Toyota 159 12 Running
33 31 40 Landon Cassill(i) Newtown Building Supplies Inc. Chevrolet 158 0 Running
34 36 36 Reed Sorenson Theme Park Connection Chevrolet 158 10 Running
35 37 98 Josh Wise Phil Parsons Racing Ford 158 9 Running
36 39 66 Timmy Hill Land Castle Title Toyota 158 8 Running
37 16 10 Danica Patrick GoDaddy Chevrolet 158 7 Running
38 38 44 JJ Yeley(i) All City Leasing & Warehousing Chevrolet 157 0 Running
39 42 33 Alex Kennedy Dream Factory Chevrolet 156 5 Running
40 7 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford 150 4 Engine
41 10 99 Carl Edwards Kelloggs/Cheez-It Ford 143 3 Accident
42 27 5 Kasey Kahne Great Clips Chevrolet 142 2 Accident
43 43 77 Dave Blaney AmyRFochlerVtrnsLawAttrnyLLC/valor4vets.com Ford 142 1 Running

# = Rookie, Fin = Finish, Str = Start, Pts = Total Points, BPs = Lap Leader Bns Pts, TLd = Times Led, LLd = Laps Led. (i) Ineligible for driver points in this series

 

1 COMMENT

  1. Unfortunately Tweedle-dumb and Tweedle-dee are back with their ‘isms. For instance Wally says, “I’ve seen that at Ponoco over 100 times.” Sure Wally. You might go back and see how many times they have races at Ponoco. The only good part of the announcing was Larry Mac, who bailed them out quite often.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here