Sealing the deal: Earnhardt Jr. continues Hendrick dominance
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his No. 88 team put together a complete race Sunday at Pocono Raceway to extend Hendrick Motorsports' winning ways for another week.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s win Sunday at Pocono was the fourth-straight win for Hendrick Motorsports.
Lesley Ann Miller / LAT
By Larry McReynolds
Sunday's win at Pocono means quite a number of things for that No. 88 bunch. Obviously for Dale Earnhardt Jr. he now joins Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Jimmie Johnson as the fourth driver who is now officially locked into the 2014 Chase. There are 12 races to go, and the math is falling into place so with two wins, you are definitely in.
Also don't forget that we go back to Pocono and back to Daytona where his two wins have come from so far this year before the Chase starts, so that has to give him a ton of confidence. The other thing that is really hard to believe is that it's been 10 years since Dale Jr. has won more than one race in a season.
I didn't believe it when they first mentioned it to me. I even went and double-checked it, but it actually was 2004 since the last time Dale Jr. has had a multi-win season. He actually won six times that year. To take that even a step further, until this year he only had four wins total from 2005 to 2013. So there were a lot of winless seasons sprinkled in there.
The other thing that has to make Dale Jr. feel really good is that he won in a very good race car. He didn't win a fuel mileage race or a rain-shortened race. Like we always tell you, racing and winning at Daytona or Talladega are their own separate animals. Winning at those places really comes down to the decisions the driver makes and being in the right spot at the right time.
Sunday at Pocono, Dale Jr. had a very good race car. He was in position and capitalized on a little bit of problem that leader Brad Keselowski had. He made the most of it. For the first time in a long time, I am seeing that No. 88 team put a whole race together. Now, by that I mean they are good at the beginning, the middle and the end of a race. In the past, they might have flashes of strength early in a race and then fade as the race went along. This year is different and they are putting a complete race together.
When you look what Hendrick Motorsports has put together as a whole right now, it also is pretty unbelievable. Sunday's win marked the fourth-consecutive win at Pocono with four different drivers. Taking even that a step further as well, that is four consecutive wins by Hendrick drivers going back to Jeff Gordon's win at Kansas. Basically, that means that no one else has won in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in a month.