The Daytona 500 winner had never won at the Tricky Triangle, but he became the fourth driver with multiple wins this season. Fox Sports: NASCAR notes the final result with Earnhardt taking the checkered flag:
ESPN Stats and Info puts the win into perspective:
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: 2nd win of season, 1st multi-win season since 2004 (won career-best 6 races)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 8, 2014
With the win, Earnhardt also has his first multiple-win season since 2004, when he won a career-high six races. Junior has never won more than one race in a season with Hendrick Motorsports since he moved over to the team following the 2007 season.
Tom Jensen of FoxSports.com notes just how great the last few months have been for Junior:
One of the top dogs nearly the entire race, Brad Keselowski wound up finishing second after leading throughout the early portion of the race. The Penske driver led 95 laps during the race, but ultimately came up short to Junior down the final stretch.
Keselowski had a chance to win the race at the end, but a piece of debris caused the car to run hot, dropping him behind Earnhardt. The former points champion spoke about the issue during the race, per Bob Pockrass of Sporting News:
Brad tells MRN car was running too hot and he had tried to get behind the 10 to get the debris off. #nascar— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) June 8, 2014
After sweeping the last two races at Charlotte and Dover, Jimmie Johnson came into Pocono with hopes of winning at another track he's had success at during his career. The six-time champion experienced issues throughout the race before finishing strong with another top-10 result.
With the Pocono 400 officially coming to a close, let's take a look at the results and standings following the 14th race of the season. Full results can be found at NASCAR.com.
|1||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||11|
|9||Martin Truex Jr.||0|
|3||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||476||-22|
|1||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||2||476|
This was certainly one of the cleaner races in the Tricky Triangle's history. But that's not to say it was void of issues for prominent drivers on the Sprint Cup circuit.
Following two great races from Johnson, the No. 48 car was on the rise at Pocono and in the top five after starting 20th. That run to the top nearly had an abrupt end in the pits as Marcos Ambrose connected with Johnson entering his pit box, via Fox Sports: NASCAR:
Luckily for the Lowe's team, Johnson was able to re-enter his pit box and get the repairs necessary. JJ then jumped back on the lead lap and found his way back to the front of the pack.
Richard Allen of RacinWithRich.com and David Caraviello of NASCAR.com share details of the communications throughout the rest of the race:
Johnson reports that the car is tighter than it was but tells Knaus that they only need to work on body damage. #NASCAR— Richard Allen (@RacingWithRich) June 8, 2014
Jimmie Johnson now fifth. "Back on cycle," Knaus tells him. "Everybody on the race track has to pit one more time. We're in good shape bud."— David Caraviello (@dcaraviello) June 8, 2014
All in all, it was a great day for the Hendrick Motorsports team. With two drivers in the top five and another in the top 10, Hendrick continues to dominate NASCAR through the midway point in the season.
For Stewart-Haas Racing, the struggles continued. While Kurt Busch notched a strong finish at third place, it was far from a great day for the team as a whole.
At one point, Busch, Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart were all contending for the lead and even Danica Patrick nearly led a lap. Patrick wrecked near the end of the race, while teammates Harvick and Stewart experienced issues that derailed their race, per Allen and Fox Sports:
Harvick has another flat tire. Coming to pits. "Un-f**king believable." #NASCAR— Richard Allen (@RacingWithRich) June 8, 2014
Stewart spoke about the pit penalty following the race, per the TNT broadcast:
That was 100 percent driver error. I don't know how I got through the lights like I did, but I blew through all the lights and ... had no clue I was over it. I gave my guys grief last week after we finished sixth because I thought we should have ran in the top three. Then I threw it away this week. ... Great race car, just the driver screwed it up this week.
The once promising race for SHR then turned into yet another unfortunate one despite Busch's strong finish. Nate Ryan of USA Today gives his thoughts on the circumstances for two of the best drivers in NASCAR:
Last few laps were a mircrocosm of SHR's up-and-down season. Two fast cars neutralized by a flat tire and a pit speeding penalty. #nascar— Nate Ryan (@nateryan) June 8, 2014
While three drivers for Hendrick ran up near the front of the pack at the end of the race, the fourth ended his race with a hard crash. Near the end of the run at Pocono, Kasey Kahne was collected in an accident that took him out of the race.
NASCAR Stats provides a look at the drivers that were involved in the late wreck:
That last caution was for an accident in turn two with Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards. #NASCAR— NASCAR Stats (@NASCARStats) June 8, 2014
After a riveting race at Pocono, the Sprint Cup circuit now turns to Michigan on June 15 at 1 p.m. ET. Earnhardt will yet again be a driver to watch with two wins at the track and six top-five results during his career.
Every team will be looking to knock Hendrick off the current throne but will need to get past three dominant drivers to do so. With Junior looking for his third win of the season, the No. 88 car might just be the first to three wins this year after a strong race in Pocono.
Follow R. Cory Smith on Twitter: