Brad Keselowski had the most dominate car in the Pocono 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., leading 95 laps of the 160 laps that made of the race. But Dale Earnhardt Jr., got by Keselowski with five laps remaining and remained out front of Keselowski for the remaining laps to take his second win of the season and the first of his career at Pocono.
“Well, he (Keselowski) didn’t want to let me by, but I don’t know if his motor was going to make it. That is unfortunate for him,” Earnhardt said. “He had me beat. I couldn’t get to him, just real hard to pass here. But I have lost some in some strange ways, so it feels good to win one like that.”
Keselowski gave up the lead while attempting to get debris off the grille of his car. He went high to use Danica Patrick’s No. 10 to remove the debris, but he misjudged the space to Patrick’s car and had to check up to keep from hitting her. As a result, Earnhardt was able to take the lead and claim the win after leading a total of 11 laps.
“You know, we were just running really hot, and the motor was going to blow up so I had to do something, so I tried to follow the 10 (Patrick) down in the corner to get the debris off and I just checked up too much. I thought I had more room than I did.”
Earnhardt also had debris on his grille in the final laps but said after the race that his temperatures didn’t go up enough to cause concern so late in the reace.
“My tempereatures were going up, but I guess not as bad as Brad,’s Earnhardt said. “I had a little bit of temperature, but nothing to worry about. We definitely had some red gauges, but they were still within good reason to stand on it and give it hell.”
Kurt Busch finished third, Denny Hamlin was fourth, and Kyle Larson rounded out the top-10.
Keselowski had led 70 laps by the time he lost the lead Tony Stewart on a restart that followed the third caution of the race that came out on lap 71.
For a significant chunk of the race, the Stewart-Haas Racing trio of Stewart, Kevin Harvick, and Busch ran first and third, followed by the Team Penske duo of Keselowski and Joey Logano in fourth and fifth until pit strategies began to vary through green cycles and caution flags that followed.
Harvick, Stewart and Keselowski returned to the top-three of the running order with just under 50 laps to go, but they looked to need two addition stops to go the rest of the way on fuel, while some others would only need to stop one more time through the remaining distance. Pit strategies evened out, though, with the next caution with 42 laps to go.
Just before the yellow flag, Harvick had to make an unscheduled pit stop for a cut tire, and during the caution, Stewart was caught speeding on pit road. After Stewart hit pit road to serve his penalty, Keselowski moved to the lead and Earnhardt to second.
With everyone near the front having made their final pit stops just before or during the sixth caution of the race with just over 20 laps to go, Keselowski and Earnhardt restarted in first and second. Busch moved up to third right after the restart. When the race returned to green, Logano dropped off the pace and into the garage because of a blown engine.
“Never had one do that under caution before,” Logano said. “All of a sudden it started sounding weird and lost power.”
Jimmie Johnson finished sixth, Ryan Newman was seventh, Jeff Gordon eighth, Martin Truex Jr. ninth Jamie McMurray finished 10th.