Earnhardt Jr.’s Pocono win paints a championship picture

(Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
(Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Someone better get a broom. And the championship trophy.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. visited victory lane again at Pocono Raceway, winning both events at the track this year. The Hendrick Motorsports driver led the final fourteen laps on his way to his third checkered flag of 2014. Crew chief Steve Letarte’s slight fuel strategy gamble ended up earning the No. 88 team the jackpot.

The win comes after a vital announcement; team owner Rick Hendrick and Earnhardt Jr. made known that Greg Ives will crew chief in 2015. Letarte will aid NBC in the booth when their NASCAR coverage kicks up. The Farewell Tour was already in full-swing, and now it has full intentions to go out with a bang.

If the team keeps it up, it’s Earnhardt Jr.’s year. Why? Because it’s finally different. His personal life, the team dynamic, the HMS power have all changed for the better. Letarte leaving only adds fuel to the fire.

There’s no stopping Earnhardt Jr.; he’s racing toward his first championship.

The race in general was a thrill ride, kicking Pocono’s dull stereotype to the curb. It all peaked when a thirteen-car wreck occurred, taking out Chase hopefuls Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth, along with Brian Vickers, Aric Almirola, and many other notables. The backwards day continued with reigning champ Jimmie Johnson hitting the wall twice and ending his day in the garage.

Many contenders tried to win. Jeff Gordon was running high off his Brickyard victory. Joey Logano, stout as well. Heck, even Kevin Harvick came back with a vengeance from multiple issues.

Nobody could run down the No. 88. They should get use to that once the playoffs come around.

Point Standings after the GoBowling.com 400 (asterisk indicates number of wins)

1. Jeff Gordon (–)**
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (-17)***
3. Brad Keselowski (-70)***
4. Matt Kenseth (-89)
5. Ryan Newman (-115)
6. Jimmie Johnson (-124)***
6. Joey Logano (-124)**
8. Carl Edwards (-139)**
9. Clint Bowyer (-140)
10. Kyle Busch (-146)*
12. Kyle Larson (-162)
13. Greg Biffle (-167)
14. Kasey Kahne (-168)
15. Austin Dillon (-169)
16. Paul Menard (-195)

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