Aug 3, 2014, 4:24 PM EDT
Just like he did in his June win there, Dale Earnhardt Jr. rallied in the latter stages of Sunday’s GoBowling.com 400 to sweep both races of the season at Pocono Raceway.
Earnhardt took the lead from Greg Biffle on Lap 147 and never looked back, eventually building a more than three-second lead.
Even a late race caution brought out by Kurt Busch hitting the wall on Lap 153 of the 160-lap event did not keep Earnhardt from victory lane. He had an excellent restart on Lap 157 and powered his way to the win, holding off a hard-charging Kevin Harvick, who finished second.
It’s also the fifth consecutive win at Pocono for Hendrick Motorsports drivers.
Earnhardt predicted before the race that Sunday’s car was even better than the ride that carried him to victory in the June race at the 2.5-mile tri-oval – and he wound up being spot-on.
“I was just trying to hold (Harvick) off, they were faster than my car,” Earnhardt told ESPN after the race. “I was overdriving it, not rolling the center very good and Kevin was getting me in (turns) one and two.
“We had a fast car all day. Steve’s strategy was perfect at the end. That was real awesome. It takes a real smart guy to know what to do and to take those gambles. Sometimes they pay off, sometimes they don’t. I can’t believe we swept Pocono.
“We definitely went home after the last race and made our car better. They went and didn’t sit on what we did last time. They wanted us to get better and be a faster car, where we didn’t need a little luck to have to win.”
Harvick, who officially clinched his berth in the upcoming Chase for the Sprint Cup, gave Earnhardt all he could handle in the final three laps, but just came up a bit short.
“To not have wrecked my car (and) I got a speeding penalty (earlier),” Harvick said of what kept him from catching Earnhardt. “This hasn’t been one of my best tracks.
“I made a lot of mistakes today and (his crew) made up for it with a fast race car.”
Biffle looked as if he might have enough to take the win, but when Earnhardt got past him, there wasn’t much Biffle could do from that point on.
“I’m heartbroken that that caution came out when the 47 (AJ Allmendinger on Lap 140) blew a tire. That just killed our day,” Biffle said. “Kevin and I were out there, it was going to be Mickey Mouse, who would run out of fuel.
“When you have a 15th-place car, you have to play strategy to get there and win these races. … We’re not happy with the way we’re competing. We want to compete for these wins, and the 88 and those Hendrick cars are pretty fast. So, we’ll keep working at it.”
But there was some good news after the race for Biffle: he moved up to 16th in the Race to the Chase standings with five races remaining. Biffle is still seeking his first win, as well as other drivers that are in the top-16 after Pocono, including Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer and rookie Kyle Larson.
“Awesome, awesome car today,” said Gordon, who led a race-high 63 laps. “We had the dominant car but you had to have track position and there at the end, we didn’t have it.
“With Dale getting out in front of us on that pit sequence, there was nothing we could do. He was really good. Whoever got out in front, him or me, was going to win this race.”
Pole-sitter Larson finished 11th, followed by Casey Mears, Kurt Busch, Marcos Ambrose, rookie Austin Dillon, Justin Allgaier in 16th, David Gilliland, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., David Ragan and Ryan Truex in 20th.
The next race is next Sunday on the road course at Watkins Glen International.
Follow me @JerryBonkowski
May 4, 2015, 5:18 PM EDT
Road America invests millions into some track upgrades for 2015.
May 4, 2015, 2:18 PM EDT
Nastia Liukin named grand marshal for this year’s Indianapolis 500.
May 4, 2015, 1:33 PM EDT
Videos from the debut of the new Ligier JS P2 Hondas for Tequila Patron ESM at Spa-Francorchamps this weekend.
May 4, 2015, 11:41 AM EDT
Mann gets back to work behind the wheel and has a very good first day of running at IMS.
May 4, 2015, 11:35 AM EDT
Early days yet, but seems as though Andretti Autosport is starting the month of May out on the right foot.
May 4, 2015, 11:24 AM EDT
The No. 90 Corvette DP pairing ends on top in Monterey.
May 3, 2015, 8:42 PM EDT
Day one of the month of May is in the books at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
May 3, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT
Could we see the Iranian Grand Prix join the F1 calendar in years to come?
May 3, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT
Lotus technical director Nick Chester expresses his confidence in the upcoming upgrade package for the E23 Hybrid car.
May 3, 2015, 2:11 PM EDT
A run through of new driver firesuits and liveries thus far on the first day of practice for the Indianapolis 500.
May 3, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT
Ex-Force India driver di Resta picks up his first podium finish since returning to DTM in 2014.
May 3, 2015, 1:31 PM EDT
Indianapolis 500 practice is officially underway.
May 3, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT
Spanish rider wins on home soil as Valentino Rossi scores his 200th podium finish.
May 3, 2015, 12:26 PM EDT
Conor Daly’s “Fueled by Bacon” No. 43 Smithfield Foods Honda is revealed.
May 3, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT
The no. 19 crew fights back at Spa to finish sixth overall after six hours of racing.
May 3, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT
Venezuelan driver returns to the site of his only grand prix victory next weekend.
May 2, 2015, 8:57 PM EDT
Last-lap pass by co-driver Andrew Carbonell allows Sgt. Liam Dwyer to celebrate win with Sgt. Aaron Denning, the man who saved his life.
May 2, 2015, 5:10 PM EDT
Franzoni makes the leap into Pro Mazda.
May 2, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT
Red Bull driver speaks about the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, which will play host to the Spanish Grand Prix next weekend.
May 2, 2015, 3:31 PM EDT
Benoit Treluyer, Marcel Fassler and Andre Lotterer claim their second win of the WEC season at Spa.
- Montoya fastest on opening day of Indianapolis 500 practice 2
- Indy 500 refresher running, RoP gets underway today at IMS 0
- Chevrolet reveals its super speedway aero kit 2
- ARCA driver Brad Smith recovering from ankle surgery after Talladega wreck 0
- 21 years after his death, the legacy of Ayrton Senna burns as brightly as ever 2
- Honda reveals its super speedway aero kit Thursday at IMS (VIDEO) 9
- Ed Carpenter talks Newgarden’s win and preparing for superspeedway aero kit at Indy 7