Auto Racing / Sports

Dale Earnhardt Jr. sweeps at Pocono Raceway

LONG POND, Pa. -- Break out the broom, Dale Earnhardt Jr. made a clean sweep of Pocono.

Earnhardt passed then-leader Greg Biffle with 13 of 160 laps remaining and cruised to victory in Sunday's GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway, becoming just the seventh driver in NASCAR history to sweep both Sprint Cup Series races at the Pennsylvania track in the same season.

The win is the third of the season for Earnhardt, who is now challenging for the top seed in the Chase, and the 22nd of his career.

Earnhardt's win is also the fifth consecutive at Pocono for a Hendrick Motorsports driver.

Kevin Harvick finished second, Joey Logano third, Clint Bowyer fourth and Biffle was fifth. Series points leader Jeff Gordon ended up sixth.

Logano took early command of the race and led the first 30 laps.

On Lap 8, Jimmie Johnson hit the wall and had a right-rear tire go down, which brought out the first caution of the race. Logano continued to lead on the restart on Lap 13.

Danica Patrick slammed into the wall on Lap 17 to bring out the second caution of the race. Logano maintained his lead on the restart on Lap 20.

Kyle Busch slowed on the track on Lap 25 and eventually took his No. 18 Toyota to the garage after blowing his engine.

Landon Cassill hit the wall on Lap 29 to bring out the third caution of the race. Several teams pit but Kurt Busch remained on the track and took over the lead on the restart on Lap 34. He was followed by Martin Truex Jr. and Matt Kenseth.

Gordon made his way around Kurt Busch for the lead on Lap 44.

Kasey Kahne and Joe Nemecheck collided on Lap 52 to bring out the fourth caution of the race. Gordon maintained his lead on the restart on Lap 56.

Teams began a round of green-flag pit stops on Lap 64. Once the cycle was completed on Lap 80, Gordon held the lead followed by Earnhardt and Logano.

Teams began a second round of green-flag pit stops on Lap 94. During the stops, Harvick was penalized by NASCAR for speeding on pit road.

Once the cycle of stops was completed on Lap 107, Gordon continued to lead followed by Earnhardt and Logano.

Johnson slammed the wall again on Lap 112 in Turn 2, sending his No. 48 Chevrolet to the garage for the day. On the restart on Lap 117, Gordon still led followed by Earnhardt and Logano.

As the leaders exited Turn 1 after the restart, Denny Hamlin got very loose and Brian Vickers swerved to avoid him, which triggered an accident that eventually collected more than a dozen cars.

Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Harvick, Tony Stewart, Aric Almirola and Carl Edwards were among the drivers involved in the accident.

"There's nothing you can do when it gets like that, so it was just a big pile up trying to get all we can get on the restarts," Almirola said.

Some teams elected to pit but on Gordon elected remained on the track and remained in the lead on the restart on Lap 127 followed by Kurt Busch and Logano.

Less than two laps after the restart, several teams began short-pitting for fuel to ensure they had enough to reach the finish.

A.J. Allmendinger slammed into the Turn 1 wall on Lap 139 to bring out the seventh caution of the race. On the restart on Lap 144, Biffle, Harvick and Hamlin led the way and each was stretching their fuel to make it to the finish. Earnhardt restarted fourth and Kyle Larson fifth.

Three laps later, Earnhardt made his way around Biffle to take the lead for the first time in the race.

Kurt Busch hit the wall twice on Lap 154 to bring out the eighth caution of the race. On the restart on Lap 158, Earnhardt remained in the lead followed by Harvick and Logano.

(c)2014 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.)

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Distributed by MCT Information Services


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