First Pocono Win for Earnhardt

D.Earnhardt Jr.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. notched the first Pocono Raceway win of his career Sunday, giving Hendrick Motorsports its fourth straight victory on "The Tricky Triangle." (Photo: Getty Images)



LONG POND, Pa. - Dale Earnhardt Jr. notched the first Pocono Raceway win of his career Sunday, giving Hendrick Motorsports its fourth straight victory on "The Tricky Triangle."

Earnhardt passed Brad Keselowski with four laps to go and won for the second time this season after his Daytona 500 victory back in February.

Both drivers were battling rising engine temperatures due to trash on their front grilles, but Earnhardt was able to make it to the finish to notch his first win at the 2.5-mile triangular track.  The last time Earnhardt had multiple wins was 2004, when he had six while driving for Dale Earnhardt, Inc.

"Junior" inherited the top spot from Keselowski when the Team Penske driver was forced to drop back to ensure that his engine would not overheat and blow.

"That's unfortunate for him," Earnhardt said.  "He had me beat.  I couldn't get to him.  It's real hard to pass here.  I've lost some in strange ways.  It feels good to win one like that.  Brad definitely had the better car.  I'll own up to that, but we won the race."

Keselowski was disappointed with the outcome but felt he had no choice other than to take evasive action.

"(It was) running really hot, the motor was going to blow up," Keselowski said.  "I had to do something.  We had a really fast car, but had a piece of debris and had to do something.  I had to do some kind of move or it wasn't going to make it.  I should have just run it.  I didn't think it would make it, but maybe it would have."

Kurt Busch rallied from overshooting his pit stall earlier in the race to finish third with pole sitter Denny Hamlin and rookie Kyle Larson rounding out the top five.

Jimmie Johnson came back from a pit road incident with Marcos Ambrose to finish sixth with Ryan Newman, Jeff Gordon, Martin Truex Jr. and Jamie McMurray rounding out the top 10.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series now heads to Michigan International Speedway for next Sunday's Quicken Loans 400.  Motor Racing Network - "The Voice of NASCAR" - will have live coverage starting at 12 p.m. (ET) with live streaming at

How Earnhardt won: Keselowski decided to drop back from the No. 1 position with four laps to go after trash on his front grille raised his engine temperatures to what the Team Penske driver felt was a dangerous level.  Despite also having trash on his grille, Earnhardt was able to stay ahead of the field for the win, Hendrick Motorsports' fourth straight at Pocono.  Gordon was victorious in August 2012 with Johnson and Kasey Kahne winning last season.

What else happened: The race featured lots of pit strategy, as is usually the case at the mammoth 2.5-mile track.  But there were also several accidents and incidents over the course of the 400 miles.  The biggest wreck came late when Kahne and Kyle Busch made contact that triggered a multi-car accident - also catching Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and AJ Allmendinger.

Who else had a good day: Despite his disappointing ending, Keselowski has finished second in the last two Sprint Cup Series races ... Kurt Busch has struggled of late but was able to come home third for his fourth top-three finish in his last six Pocono starts ... Hamlin notched his fourth top-five finish of the season ... Johnson's quest to win three straight Sprint Cup races after his Charlotte and Dover victories looked to be over after his pit road troubles with Ambrose.  But the six-time champion worked his way back up to the front of the field and actually led before finishing sixth.

Who had a bad day: Matt Kenseth went into the weekend as the Sprint Cup Series points leader.  But the Joe Gibbs Racing driver’s day to contend was over early when he made contact with Jamie McMurray on a restart and severely damaged the nose of his Toyota.

Quote of the day: "That was my fault.  Didn’t realize (Ambrose) was coming in, thought he was coming out," Johnson’s crew chief, Chad Knaus, said of the pit road accident between the No. 48 and No. 9 cars.

Other notables: Larson scored his sixth top-10 finish of 2014 in his first career Pocono Sprint Cup Series start ... Newman has three seventh-place finishes this season ... Truex has two straight top-10 performances.

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