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HMS RECAP: Make that five in a row for Hendrick Motorsports at Pocono Raceway. A late pit strategy helped Dale Earnhardt Jr. make his way to Victory Lane in the No. 88 Michael Baker International Chevrolet SS for a sweep of both Pocono races in 2014. It marks Earnhardt’s third win of the season and first season sweep of a track since 2002 at Talladega. The last time a Hendrick Motorsports driver swept both Pocono races was 2004 when Jimmie Johnson did so. Hendrick Motorsports’ 226th win was the 22nd of Earnhardt’s Sprint Cup career.
NO. 48 TEAM RECAP: After beginning the race in 17th place, Johnson reported to crew chief Chad Knaus that hit the wall on Lap 8. That called for a caution on Lap 9, and Johnson fell a lap behind the leaders. On Lap 16, however, another caution flag allowed Johnson a free pass as the only driver a lap down. That put him in 33rd place and he got to work bettering his position. By Lap 24 he was up to 29th position. On Lap 45 he cracked the top-20, and just past the midway point of the 400-mile race he moved all the way up to fourth place. But on Lap 111 Johnson hit the wall for a second time suffering heavy damage. The Lowe’s team wasn’t able to repair the car and had to retire from the race early. The end result was 39th.
YOU AND CHAD WERE JUST EXAMINING THE CAR, WHAT DO YOU THINK HAPPENED?
“The first one, I got tight off turn one and got in the fence. It pushed the rear quarter panel into the tire and got the first flat, so my bad. There on that one, I am clueless. It didn’t act like a tire went down and I am not exactly sure if it did. Normally when they go down that quick they explode and there was no explosion, the tire did not come apart, it just went straight. We are trying to get in there and look at it, obviously the tire is flat now from the impact. Hopefully we can get a reason why. Unfortunate with how hard we fought to get ourselves back in contention and I was really proud of this Lowe’s team. It wasn’t the best weekend but we still gave ourselves a chance at a win if not a top five today and came up a little short.”
“I’m not really sure. The car went straight down into the Tunnel Turn. Unfortunate, we had some trouble early and were able to really rally back and get ourselves in the top five. So disappointed for sure, but really unclear as to what happened going into Turn 2. The car went straight so at this point the guys are trying to get the right-front (tire) off to take a look at it and see what happened.”
HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS FINISHES: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (1st), Jeff Gordon (6th), Kasey Kahne (10th).
NEXT UP: Watkins Glen International – Sunday, August 10th at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN and MRN Radio