Debris on Brad Keselowski's Car Helped Dale Earnhardt Jr. Win Pocono 2014

Kyle NewportFeatured ColumnistJune 8, 2014

LONG POND, PA - JUNE 08:  Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, leads Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redds Ford, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway on June 8, 2014 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Pocono 400 for the first time on Sunday, but had it not been for a piece of debris, he may not have found himself in the winner's circle.

After dominating much of the race, Brad Keselowski found himself in a bit of trouble late. He led the race for 95 laps but was passed by Earnhardt Jr. with just five laps to go.

As painful as losing the race would have been on a normal basis, it must hurt even more given the circumstances. A piece of debris (which is visible in the photo above) got stuck to the front of Keselowski's car, which caused the engine to heat up. Fearing what would happen if his engine continued to overheat at the high speed, Keselowski slowed down and gave way to Junior.

Even the winner knew the debris helped him win.

"It's unfortunate for him," Earnhardt said via SB Nation's Jordan Bianchi . "He had me beat. I couldn't get to him. But I've lost some in some strange ways so it feels good to win one like that."

The unusual scenario allowed Junior to pick up his second victory of the season.