Dale Earnhardt Jr. wins second race of the season at Pocono
By Jim Utter, The Charlotte Observer
Dec 17, 2015 at 6:38 PM
LONG POND, Pa. (MCT) – Ignoring rising engine temperatures, Dale Earnhardt Jr. passed Brad Keselowski with four of 160 laps remaining on Sunday to win the Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway.
It's the second Sprint Cup Series win of the season for Earnhardt, who has not had a multiple-win season in eight years.
Both Keselowski and Earnhardt were racing at the finish with debris covering the grilles of their respective cars, spiking the engine temps. Both cars made it to the finish.
Kurt Busch finished third, pole-winner Denny Hamlin was fourth and Kyle Larson was fifth.
Keselowski started second but jumped into the lead on the start by passing pole-winner Hamlin.
The first round of green-flag pit stops began on Lap 27 and once the cycle was completed on Lap 30, Keselowski remained out front followed by Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick.
NASCAR displayed the first caution of the race on Lap 32 for a small grass fire in Turn 3. On the restart on Lap 36, Keselowski remained out front.
After 50 laps, Keselowski continued to lead followed by Harvick and Gordon.
Caution for debris on the track was displayed on Lap 60 – shortly after several teams had already started green-flag pit stops. On the restart on Lap 65, Keselowski led the way followed by Harvick and Gordon.
Pieces of tire from J.J. Yeley's car brought out a caution for debris on Lap 72. All of the lead-lap cars pit for fuel and tires and during the stops, Jimmie Johnson and Marcos Ambrose collided on pit road, leaving both cars with damage.
On the restart on Lap 76, Keselowski continued to lead followed by Harvick and Stewart.
Stewart quickly moved into the lead for the first time on Lap 77.
Dave Blaney spun on the track on Lap 81 to bring out the fourth caution of the race. On the restart, Stewart led the way followed by Kurt Busch and Harvick.
Rookie Austin Dillon was penalized by NASCAR for changing lanes during the restart and had to serve a pass-thru penalty.
Another round of green-flag pit stops began on Lap 92. Once the cycle of various strategies was completed on Lap 113, Stewart was back in the lead followed by Harvick and Keselowski.
Harvick was forced to make a pit stop under green on Lap 117 for a flat tire and fell a lap down.
Oil on the track brought out the fifth caution of the race on Lap 119. Several cars would pit during the caution and Stewart was penalized by NASCAR for speeding on pit road. Also, Kurt Busch overshot his pit stall during the stop.
On the restart on Lap 123, Keselowski took over the lead followed by Earnhardt, Hamlin, Clint Bowyer and Kasey Kahne.
The final pit strategy of the race began to be played out when Hamlin was the first to head to pit road for his final stop for gas on Lap 128.
With only four cars remaining to pit, Danica Patrick slammed into the wall on Lap 138 to bring out the sixth caution of the race. Most of the lead-lap cars remained on the track and Keselowski took over the race lead on the restart on Lap 142.
On Lap 143, Kyle Busch made contact with Kasey Kahne which ignited a multi-car wreck that also collected Carl Edwards and saw Greg Biffle run over some of the debris on the track.
Keselowski remained the leader on the restart on Lap 149.