(WOMR file photo)
With just five laps to go Dale Earnhardt,Jr. was in right where he wanted to be! Junior was in position to pounce, and pounce he did. With “Blazing Bad” Brad Keselowski having a large piece of debris stuck to his radiator grill, and the motor temperature skyrocketing out of sight, Brad K. needed to, somehow, get that black trash bag off of his radiator grill to keep the motor from “grenading” on him. So, as a last ditch effort, Keselowski tried to suck up on the back bumper of, a very slow moving , Danica Patrick hoping to cause a negative pressure on his radiator grill, and thusly, removing the debris.
That split moment of brilliance did not work for Brad K!
That moment of indecision on the part of Keselowski allowed Junior to roar right on by, and motor away from the “not so blue duece” Sunday, allowing Dale Jr. to grab his second win of the season!
Earnhardt’s triumph in the Pocono 400 gave him two victories this season, his first multiple-win campaign since 2004 when he won six times. He has seen and appreciated the gradual-but-steady strides his team has made.
“The difference between running fourth at the end of this race and running second is a very small thing,” said Earnhardt, praising the effort of his crew chief Steve Letarte in the process. “In years past, it was someone else seizing the opportunity. We’d be third or fourth, watching it happen.
“Each year we’ve seen a progression of performance. What I’m seeing us do and how I’m seeing us run makes a lot of sense to me. We’ve been fast every week. We started (to improve) toward the middle of last year. We haven’t peaked, but we’re certainly doing some of our best work right now.”
Keselowski led 95 of Sunday’s 160 laps and led Earnhardt by more than one second when his engine temperature forced him to take decisive action with five laps to go. Keselowski tucked in behind the lapped car of Danica Patrick, hoping to draw the debris off his grille.
“I felt really bad for Brad to see him in a situation to be that desperate,” Earnhardt said. “He’s a good friend … he had it won. We weren’t going to get to him. I could not believe he was going to do that when I saw him go up the race track behind the No. 10 (Patrick’s car). His temperature had to be super-hot for him to do that.”
Keselowski said he was desperate, and felt he had no choice.
“There was debris on the grille, so I had to do something,” Keselowski said. “(Maybe) I should have just ran it to see if it would have blown off … but I had to make some kind of move or the car wasn’t going to make it. The car was starting to blow up. It was going to break or I was going to get passed because we were really down on power in the straightaway.
“I took a shot to clear it off and not lose time, but I misjudged it. (The move) made enough difference for me to lose the lead in the process. When I got down in the corner and the car finally got sideways, I realized I’d made a mistake.”
In 28 previous Sprint Cup starts at Pocono, Earnhardt had managed seven top-five finishes including a pair of second-place finishes despite what he thought were some excellent cars.
“We’ve had so many opportunities slip away,” he said. “We’ve been so close. So it feels so good to get into Victory Lane here. I used to come here as a kid because it was a summer race. I just always wanted to win at this place. We’ve had some good cars here, so it feels good to finish the deal.”
If there is any question about the quality of team that the HMS #88 AMP/National Guard Chevy has morphed into, those questions are being answered right before you very eyes this season, each and every week!
Check out the unofficial results of the Pocono 400.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!