It all came down to a piece of paper. Brad Keselowski had the strongest car at the Pocono 400 this past weekend at Pocono International Raceway, but in the end, lost the race because of a piece of paper.
With only a few laps left during the NASCAR Sprint Cup race, that little piece of paper, floating in the wind, suctioned itself to Keselowski’s grille. When that happens, the airflow is restricted and will cause a car to overheat if the debris is not removed. How does a NASCAR driver remove a piece of paper from their grille during a race? Often times, they will use another car to do so by coming in close contact with them, hoping for the air created by the near contact to free it.
Keselowski tried doing that, attempting to use the No. 88 of Dale Earnhardt Jr. so that he wouldn’t overheat, but it didn’t work. Earnhardt Jr. wasn’t going to help, and that’s okay. He had a race to win, and win it he did.
Brad backed off, giving Junior the opportunity to pass him, and with a couple laps left, he maintained that lead, and by taking the checkered flag first, created a milestone for the Hendrick Organization.
In the past four races at Pocono, the winners were Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and Kasey Kahne. Earnhardt was the fourth and final Hendrick driver to win consecutively at the Tricky Triangle.
My picture of the winning team and driver at PIR on Sunday
Not only did Earnhardt Jr. win, it was his second win of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. He also won the first race of the year, which is also the biggest race of the season – the Daytona 500.
Dale and the 88 Hendrick Motorsports team, happy for two wins so far this season
This was the 33rd annual Pocono 400, and Eanrhardt’s 21st victory in 519 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. It’s not only his second win, but his ninth top 10 finish in 2014. It’s his first multiple-win season since 2004 (he won six times that year).
With the win, he is guaranteed to be among the top 16 winners after race number 26, and will be in the Chase, better known as the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs (the last ten races of the season).
The top 10 from the Pocono 400, in order, are: Earnhardt, Jr., Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman, Jeff Gordon, Martin Truex, Jr., and Jamie McMurray.
In terms of the Sprint Cup points standings, Gordon is in the lead with 498 points, Matt Kenseth is in second (482), followed by Earnhardt Jr. (478), Johnson (475), and Keselowski (448).
Other notable items from Sunday: Rookie of the year contender Larson was the highest finishing rookie finishing fifth. He came off an ARCA win from the day before, too.
Kasey Kahne was caught up in an accident after some contact from Kyle Busch spun him out. Kahne, after being released from the infield care center, was not happy, and this could possibly rehash some ill feelings towards Busch from the past.
Kahne talking to the media after being released from the infield care center on Sunday
This weekend, NASCAR travels to Michigan. The Camping World Truck Series is off, and both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series will be on the track.
Who should you pick in your fantasy team this weekend? The Hendrick Organization is on fire. Johnson loves Michigan, and with two wins in a row recently, he should be your top pick. Don’t rule out Earnhardt, Jr., either. He’s hungry for yet another win, and assured the media at Pocono in his post-race win interview that he is going to Michigan with intentions of winning. Every driver wants that, but not every one can do it. He can.
Since Fords are typically dominant at Michigan, Greg Biffle would be a decent pick. He won at Michigan before, and he can do it again.
Tire wear and gas mileage especially are the big concerns at Michigan. Pit strategies are even more important this coming weekend at the two mile track.
Look for some action, and possibly even an upset. If you are in the right place at the right time, and the right driver runs out of fuel or blows a tire, it can be anyone’s victory.