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Junior's Strong Run Ends Up 3rd at Pocono

By Mike Hoag, JR Motorsports | Race Report Published 6/9/2013
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Race: Party in the Poconos 400
Track Specs: 2.5-mile tri-oval / 160 Laps
Weather: Sunny, 75 deg.
Race Winner: Jimmie Johnson
Dale Jr.’s Finish: 3rd

Dale Earnhardt Jr. found success Sunday in the Pocono Mountains bringing home his fourth top-five finish of the season. Earnhardt Jr.’s third-place finish catapulted him from sixth to fourth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings.

With Friday’s qualifying session cancelled due to rain, Earnhardt Jr. began the day with prime track position in the sixth-starting position. The first half of the race consisted of long green-flag runs and pit stops but Earnhardt Jr. solidified his position inside the top five early on. The No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet spent most of the race’s opening 100 laps running in the top three as everyone chased eventual race winner Jimmie Johnson.

After teams made their final pit stops at lap with 35 laps to go, crew chiefs up and down pit road urged drivers to save as much fuel as possible. Four caution flags in the final 30 laps eliminated the stress of a fuel-mileage finish and allowed Earnhardt Jr. to set his sights on Johnson for the race win.

Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 lined up to the inside of Johnson’s Chevrolet for the final restart with four laps remaining. Johnson received an exceptional push from Greg Biffle in the outside lane propelling the two cars to first and second on the restart. With Johnson pulling away, Earnhardt Jr. attempted to regain second position from Biffle but found passing to be difficult in the waning laps en route to a third-place finish.

The finish marks Earnhardt Jr.’s first top-five finish since late March at Auto Club Speedway and moves the No. 88 team to fourth in the standings. After 14 races, Earnhardt Jr. finds himself 46 points ahead of 11th-place Jeff Gordon.

DALE JR. QUOTES
“We have been running good all year just have had some troubles. It’s good to be able to run good again. All the fans listening to Dirty Mo Radio tomorrow will be excited and get to talk about something positive. It’s been a good weekend. Chase Elliott won yesterday; he has a bright future, excited about that. Excited to be able to run well we had a good car all weekend, glad we could get a good finish.

“Jimmie (Johnson) was much faster in turn three, much faster. That is where you have to be good. That is where he was good. We got to gain a little bit there we know some things we can try to get better before we come back. We will be back here seems like in a month. Good race track, good day for the No. 88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet team did a good job.”

Pocono Race Report
Start 6th
Finish 3rd
Laps Completed (Led) 160 of 160 (0)
Standings (from leader) 4th (-82)
Condition Running

 

Standings
After Bojangles Southern 500
Rank +/- Driver Points Behind
1 -- Jeff Gordon 297 0
2 -- Matt Kenseth 296 -1
3 -- Carl Edwards 278 -19
4 +2 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 271 -26
5 +2 Jimmie Johnson 270 -27
6 -1 Kyle Busch 269 -28
7 +1 Brad Keselowski 246 -51
8 -4 Joey Logano 245 -52
9 +2 Ryan Newman 236 -61
10 +2 Austin Dillon # 235 -62
11 +5 Greg Biffle 227 -70
12 +2 Tony Stewart 224 -73
Full Standings