Cautions foiled the No. 88 team's strategy in the Brickyard 400 RELATED: Power Rankings after Indianapolis " How all 43 drivers fared at the Brickyard Sunday's annual NASCAR stop at Indianapolis Motor Speedway had a Murphy's Law quality to it for Dale Earnhardt Jr . But the 40-year-old driver, while frustrated, said that in the grand scheme of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup points system, the run of Brickyard bad luck barely matters. Earnhardt described the set of circumstances that led to an unsavory 22nd-place finish at Indy in a sigh-filled Tuesday edition of the " Dale Jr. Download" podcast on Dirty Mo Radio. "Not a lot of fun out there," was the sentiment after a late pit-road mishap then a spin after contact with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne -- all with less than 20 laps remaining. "With several laps to go, we were sitting out there in 16th or so and we were going to come down pit road and get four tires," Earnhardt told Dirty Mo Radio. "I don't know, we didn't. The reason is because who the hell cares where we finish if we can't win the race. I mean, we were going to come down pit road in 16th place. A lot of guys around us pitted and we were going to get four tires and come out probably ... we might beat two guys, we might lose two spots, what the hell ever. So it was a wash in my opinion." Earnhardt did enter pit road in 16th place, but left in 22nd after an air-gun failure slowed his stop for service, leaving his No. 88 Chevrolet team only able to change two tires instead of four. Earnhardt recovered from that and his slight brush with the Turn 1 wall to stay on the lead lap. With two regular-season victories in hand and his spot in the Chase playoffs assured thanks to the points format instituted ahead of the 2014 season, Earnhardt was able to shrug off the disappointment more easily ahead of Sunday's Windows 10 400 (1:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM) at Pocono Raceway. "With the old system, you would do everything you could to get the best finish you could," Earnhardt said, "and that might mean forgoing the win and (saying), 'Hey man, if we do everything X, Y and Z and get lucky on the restarts, we might run 10th or we might finish eighth,' like some of those guys that we were racing with. But who damn cares about that? I'm sitting in 16th with 20-some laps to go, a lot of guys behind me are coming for tires. Do I want to be the last guy on old tires? No. I don't want to get eaten up by new tires, get in the wrong line on the restart and get screwed and not be competitive and not be on the offense. "We've got two wins, we're in the Chase, so what the hell's it matter between 10th and 20th? Who cares? If we do everything right, we finish 10th. If we don't do everything right, we finish 20th, but it's a wash either way. Doesn't even matter with this points system." Earnhardt bemoaned the sequence of yellow flags at Indianapolis and how the No. 88 team's strategy was adversely affected. Still, he championed the power of creative thinking from atop the pit box -- a resource that crew chief Greg Ives will have to employ this weekend at Pocono, where short-pitting, targeting fuel windows and other pit strategies frequently come into play. "The way this system works, you just go win, and if you can't win, do what everybody else ain't doing," Earnhardt said. "Do something different. Try something different. The same-ol', same-ol' is just going to get you the same boring-ass result." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne make contact sending Earnhardt through the grass and into the wall.
Sam Bass has built a career capturing racing history in his art. A large part of his artwork was the career of driver and friend Dale Earnhardt Sr.
Earnhardt describes how hot it was at Loudon en route to fifth-place finish RELATED: Junior reacts to his finish right after the race " Scanner Sounds: Junior heated The hot weather at New Hampshire Motor Speedway had an affect on several drivers in the 5-hour ENERGY 301 with a few drivers needing to go to the infield care center after the race for heat-related issues. On "The Dale Jr. Download on Dirty Mo Radio, Dale Earnhardt Jr . said he was feeling the effects of the heat later that night. "It was a real hot race," Earnhardt said. "Seen a lot of drivers wore out. I was hot, my face was hot. Rest of me was fine, just my face. It was kind of weird. Even later at night trying to go to bed, my face felt like it was sunburnt." Earnhardt scored a fifth-place finish in the 5-hour ENERGY 301 for his 10th top-10 finish of 2015 and his fourth straight top-10 showing at the Magic Mile. But to get that top five wasn't easy. "We had a bad gauge. Oil pressure gauge was showing 120 pounds and that's not good." And then there was some contact with Kurt Busch around the two-thirds mark of the race took Earnhardt outside the top five and down to 24th when he pitted under caution before a Lap 204 restart. "We got on the outside of the 41, racing with Kurt a lot during the day. I don't think he knew I was out there. We got on the outside of him in 1 and 2 and coming off of Turn 2, he just came up like his spotter didn't tell him I was there and I torn his bumper up. His bumper got stuck in my bumper. It was causing us a lot of problems so we ended up having to come down pit road and pull his bumper out of my bumper and patch a hole. Fix this and fix that. I didn't know if we were going to be as competitive with all that trouble but we ended up driving back up through there. Had a pretty good car, that helps us out in a situation like that." However, Earnhardt was able to work his way up through the field and was racing Matt Kenseth late for fifth-place. The two drivers competed for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in 2000 and have come through the Sprint Cup ranks together, dating back to when Kenseth finished second in the then Busch Grand National Series (now the XFINITY Series) to Earnhardt in 1998. "Right at the end I got to race pretty good with my buddy Matt Kenseth . Me and him have raced each other all our careers. It's always fun to sort of work together on the race track and race each other. He wanted that top-five finish and so did I. He was struggling pretty bad and I was having a hard time getting around him. I ended up finally getting around him so that was pretty cool." Now, the series shifts to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard (Sunday, 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, IMS Radio, SiriusXM) where a new high-drag package will be run at the 2.5-mile track. The driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet has just one top-five finish in 15 starts at the Brickyard and is looking forward to running this new rules package for Indianapolis. The same type of package will also be run at Michigan International Speedway in August. "Got new rules, big spoilers, lot of drag. There's not more downforce. From what I am told there is a piece that they put on the bottom of the rear bumper that actually makes this package have less downforce in the back then what we have ran all year. I don't know how true that is. That's what Jeff Gordon 's been telling me. So can't really call this the high downforce package, it's just a high drag. We'll see how the racing is and looking forward to it. Should be an interesting weekend for everybody." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
After having brake issues all night Dale Earnhardt Jr. collides with Danica Patrick sending her car for a spin at Kentucky Speedway.
Student of the sport visits Daytona facility, calls video archive the 'Holy Grail' It's the room in back, hidden behind the large steel door where humidity and temperature are constantly monitored. Walk down the hallway, past the trophies and timing equipment, beyond the library and the filing cabinets overflowing with photographs. Just beyond the autographed pace car and the workbench that held who knows how many toolboxes through the years. Step inside and be greeted by history. From floor to ceiling, on the left and right, footage of races and television shows, reel after reel after reel containing a video timeline of sorts of NASCAR is stored here. For a history buff such as Dale Earnhardt Jr ., the room is as significant as the 2.5-mile track located barely a mile away. "There's a lot of neat stuff in here," the Hendrick Motorsports driver said while visiting the ISC Archives and Research Center, located near Daytona International Speedway, earlier this month. "I think the photos are important; the film is overwhelming to me because I love to watch old races and sort of get an idea of what it was like back then and that's really the best way to do it. It's awesome to see this stuff being taken care of. "As a collector of old races and old film, that's sort of the Holy Grail back there." Points races, special events (Busch Clash, Budweiser Duel, Sprint All-Star Race) and even movies can be found here. It's what might or might not be here, though, that interests Earnhardt Jr. His father, seven-time NASCAR premier series champion Dale Earnhardt , scored his first win at Bristol Motor Speedway in 1979. NASCAR races weren't carried live on network television at the time and only select events, such as the Daytona 500 , received abbreviated coverage. The '79 Daytona was the first to be carried live from start to finish by CBS. "That (Bristol) race wasn't televised, wasn't broadcast. So there isn't even a partial digital copy being traded among those … groups out there that are in those inner circles. That's who I deal with … they are trading races that were broadcast. Someone had the opportunity to record them off television. A lot of this stuff here is just raw footage that the public doesn't have access to. So now I know where to go." Earnhardt said he has seen footage of his father's '79 BMS win "in highlights … so I know it exists." Outside of that particular race, he said "any footage that’s unobtainable from '79, '80," interests him. "Dad's first two years. Besides that, I'm a big '70s guy I guess. Any of the races from the '70s, because a lot of stuff in the '80s was broadcast … you can obtain it through trades and whatnot working with guys that are in those collector groups. So a lot of things in the '70s is unique because it’s one of a kind." The photo library turned up, among other things, pictures of driver Jimmy Means, a childhood hero. Earnhardt Jr. and Brad Means, Jimmy's son, often spent race days together in the garage. Herb Branham, senior manager for the Archives & Research Center, presented Earnhardt Jr. with another special memento – a framed set of photos of Earnhardt's grandfather, Ralph Earnhardt . "That's going up on the wall," Earnhardt said proudly. A final stop before heading back to the track put Earnhardt behind the desk of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. One of the latest additions to the archives, the room is a re-creation of the office used by France during much of his tenure as the head of the sanctioning body. The desk, furniture and fixtures came from France's original office. "This is one place I never thought I'd be, in Big Bill’s office sitting at his desk in his chair," Earnhardt said. "What a special place. "Not only is this where you can find a lot of history, but somebody's here taking care of it. I appreciate NASCAR, everything they do to hold onto that history and keep it in good shape." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Earnhardt Jr. among the drivers who tested at Chicagoland this week RELATED: New qualifying for Indianapolis, Michigan NASCAR isn't likely to introduce any new aerodynamic packages for this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , but moving forward, track-specific packages are expected to become the norm for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. And Dale Earnhardt Jr . says he's just fine with such a move. "Absolutely. I think that makes the racing more interesting," the Hendrick Motorsports driver said during a break in Wednesday's open test session at Chicagoland Speedway. "I think it's more interesting for the fans to go through that cycle of learning about these packages and what they do and what type of racing they create. I think it would be really a feather in the cap for the networks. It would give them so much information and ammo to broadcast and put on a good show. Plus I think ... it's a good way to sort of tweak and adjust the racing to make better racing at that track." Earnhardt was one of four drivers who spent three days testing at the 1.5-mile track. On Monday and Tuesday, Earnhardt joined Martin Truex Jr . ( Furniture Row Racing ), Sam Hornish Jr . ( Richard Petty Motorsports ) and JJ Yeley ( BK Racing ) for a two-day Goodyear tire test. Kyle Larson ( Chip Ganassi Racing ), Greg Biffle ( Roush Fenway Racing ), Denny Hamlin ( Joe Gibbs Racing ), Ryan Blaney ( Wood Brothers Racing ), Austin Dillon ( Richard Childress Racing ), Kurt Busch ( Stewart-Haas Racing ), Clint Bowyer ( Michael Waltrip Racing ) and Brad Keselowski ( Team Penske ) joined the group on Wednesday for the open portion of the test. It is, Earnhardt said, "a great time to be involved in the sport." "For me, it's exciting to go through these (changes)," he said. "You know, this is a three-day test and normally I hate testing, but it's been fun trying to learn and understand, so I'm excited just to see what happens – whether this stuff works, fails, whatever – but it's fun to go through it. Good to rearrange the furniture in the living room, so to speak, to something different. "It was same-old, same-old for so long, so this is kind of neat and exciting – unprecedented really. They used to cut the spoilers and trim them for makes and models throughout the year and adjust to try to level the playing field, but this is a big deal, really, to change the whole thing for everybody at this track and then try something so extreme at another track." Likewise, he said, aero package changes for Indianapolis and Michigan – where a taller spoiler will produce high drag, "is really extreme and should really alter the racing and what it looks like there. What it'll look like, I don't know. But it's not going to be the same. Fans are going tune in to see that, whatever it is that happens. That's great." At Chicago, Goodyear officials wanted to confirm their tire selection for the upcoming kickoff to the Chase. It's a similar tire to the one run at Texas and Homestead. RELATED: Learn more about Chicagoland Speedway Teams wanted to gather as much information as possible before returning here Sept. 18-20 for the start of the 10-race Chase. On Monday, Greg Stucker, director of race tire sales for Goodyear, told SiriusXM NASCAR that the Chicago test would also include the lower downforce package used this past weekend at Kentucky Speedway. "Not saying that it's an option for September but we're on the race track, let's get a look at it and see if it shows us the same results that it did earlier in the year at Charlotte and when we tested it at Darlington just a couple of weeks ago," Stucker said. Teams will also run a lower downforce aero package at Darlington in September. According to Earnhardt , there were issues with the current tires using the lower downforce package at Chicago, however. "We saw the tires tearing up," he said. "We tore up from right-front tires. (Martin) tore up one, I tore up one, (Hornish) tore up one, and when Goodyear sees that, man, the red flag comes out and you've got to slow down and there's just not enough time to really prepare for the right tire and get the right tire on the car to get it ready for this race in the Chase. "So I think we run the 2015 current package that we ran all year here, and who knows what'll happen next year, though." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Junior explains events that led up to incident at Kentucky RELATED: Danica rips, bumps Junior " Listen: Patrick vs. Earnhardt on the radio Dale Earnhardt Jr . had a bad night at Kentucky. You've heard about his run-in (run-into?) with Danica Patrick . On "The Dale Jr. Download" on Diry Mo Radio, Earnhardt detailed how the night unfolded with crippling brake problems. "Admittedly, Kentucky's not one of my best tracks, and the rain didn't help things," Earnhardt said. He learned a lot in the XFINITY race and hoped to carry some of that knowledge from his eighth-place run Friday night into Saturday night's Cup race. But the trouble started when he forgot to flip some switches. "I forgot to turn on switches that cool the brakes and keep the tire temps down. We took off running there in the first run and the brakes started fading a little bit. Luckily, the caution came out and I was able to get the switches on. "Come down pit road, pull the tape off the brakes and that should fix it. Everything should go back to normal and the pedal should come back, and that's not what happened. It continued to get worse and worse each run." The No. 88 car was pretty good, definitely top 10, Earnhardt said, but things kept getting worse from there. "We ended up having a lot of brake problems. It got so bad at one point that if I didn't pump the brakes all the way down the straightaway, it would go to the floor in the corner. So we're sitting there pumping the brakes, pumping the brakes, pumping the brakes lap after lap after lap. Just staying out there tyring not to get passed til we fixed it. "Caution would come out, we'd bleed the right front. Run out of time. Bleed the brakes on the left front. … But it would eventually get hot on the long run. "…Anyhow, I started taking it easy, sort of running along pumping the brakes a lot. I had just let Danica go by and down the back straightaway I'm pumping the brakes and they're not … I can't pump 'em all the way to the floor on the straightaway cause you don't want to slow the car down while you're trying to accelerate. You're just trying to get the fluid up, get the pedal up, but when we got to the corner, I mash the brake and it went all the way to the floor. I let off the brakes and mashed it again. At this point I'm gonna hit her. I let off the brakes and mashed it again and it goes to the floor and I ran into the back of her. There's wasn't nothing I could do about it." Junior said the fact that he hit Patrick saved him from going into the wall, so that was the "silver lining" of the incident. MORE: Highlights from Patrick's 100 Cup races "She flew off the handle, got pissed off. Our spotters communicated and told her about the brakes. She still ran into us on pit road for whatever damn reason." Junior doesn't really blame Patrick for being mad, admitting he's been in that position before, too, and has lost his cool at times. But he's not happy about what transpired after their wreck, either. "That just brings a lot of unwanted attention to both of us for the wrong reasons." After that, a full replacement of brake fluid helped, and the No. 88 came home 21st. All said, Junior was happy with a car that was still able to pass amid pumping the brakes. And the team learned a lot heading into Darlington Raceway, which is the next race to use a similar low downforce package on Sept. 6. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
A statistical look ahead to the 21st race of the Sprint Cup season DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Below is a look at some of the top statistical performers at Pocono Raceway in Pocono, Pennsylvania going into the WINDOWS 10 400 on August 2 (1:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN). POCONO-SPECIFIC STATISTICS Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · Two wins, 12 top fives, 16 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 12.421, eighth-best · Average Running Position of 10.246, second-best · Driver Rating of 105.9, third-best · 332 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.733, second-fastest · 2659 Laps in the Top 15 (77.0), second-most · 774 Quality Passes, seventh-most Dale Earnhardt Jr (No. 88 MICROSOFT Chevrolet) · Two wins, nine top fives, 13 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 15.900, 11th-best · Average Running Position of 14.002, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 92.6, ninth-best · 102 Fastest Laps Run, third-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.237, eighth-fastest · 2286 Laps in the Top 15 (63.3), eighth-most · 727 Quality Passes, eighth-most Carl Edwards (No. 19 STANLEY Toyota) · Two wins, five top fives, eight top 10s · Average finish of 15.500, 10th-best · Average Running Position of 14.826, 13th-best · Driver Rating of 94.2, eighth-best · 176 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.224, ninth-fastest · 2262 Laps in the Top 15 (62.6), 10th-most · 712 Quality Passes, ninth-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 AARP Member Advantages Chevrolet) · Six wins, 19 top fives, 31 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 9.650, second-best · Average Running Position of 9.916, series-best · Driver Rating of 103.5, fourth-best · 169 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.625, fifth-fastest · 2777 Laps in the Top 15 (76.9), third-most · 885 Quality Passes, series-most Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota) · Four wins, nine top fives, 13 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 11.889, seventh-best · Average Running Position of 10.844, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 108.3, series-best · 437 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.806, series-fastest · 2543 Laps in the Top 15 (79.3), series-most · 685 Quality Passes, 10th-most Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Jimmy John's/Budweiser Chevrolet) · Seven top fives, 11 top 10s · Average finish of 10.600, fifth-best · Average Running Position of 13.743, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 91.9, 11th-best · 63 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.159, 10th-fastest · 2277 Laps in the Top 15 (63.0), ninth-most · 789 Quality Passes, sixth-most Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet) · Three wins, 11 top fives, 18 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 10.500, third-best · Average Running Position of 10.487, third-best · Driver Rating of 106.9, second-best · 273 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.708, third-fastest · 2774 Laps in the Top 15 (76.8), fourth-most · 861 Quality Passes, fourth-most Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Aquafina Chevrolet) · Two wins, five top fives, eight top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 18.750, 13th-best · Average Running Position of 14.622, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 92.1, 10th-best · 306 Fastest Laps Run, series-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.436, sixth-fastest · 2199 Laps in the Top 15 (60.9), 11th-most · 804 Quality Passes, fifth-most Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford) · One win, three top fives, four top 10s · Average finish of 13.400, ninth-best · Average Running Position of 14.786, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 90.8, 12th-best · 96 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 161.894, 13th-fastest · 852 Laps in the Top 15 (50.1), 13th-most · 306 Quality Passes, 12th-most Kyle Larson (No. 42 Suave Men Chevrolet) · One top five, two top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 8.000, series-best · Average Running Position of 12.672, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 95.7, sixth-best · 2 Fastest Laps Run, 13th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.690, fourth-fastest · 230 Laps in the Top 15 (71.9), seventh-most · 87 Quality Passes, 13th-most Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford) · One win, three top fives, five top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 16.583, 12th-best · Average Running Position of 13.811, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 88.9, 13th-best · 61 Fastest Laps Run, second-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.097, 12th-fastest · 1190 Laps in the Top 15 (56.6), 12th-most · 456 Quality Passes, 11th-most Ryan Newman (No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet) · One win, nine top fives, 14 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 10.500, fourth-best · Average Running Position of 11.426, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 95.3, seventh-best · 36 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.135, 11th-fastest · 2689 Laps in the Top 15 (74.4), fifth-most · 883 Quality Passes, second-most Tony Stewart (No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevrolet) · Two wins, 12 top fives, 22 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 10.600, sixth-best · Average Running Position of 12.223, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 97.6, fifth-best · 99 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.319, seventh-fastest · 2619 Laps in the Top 15 (72.5), sixth-most · 880 Quality Passes, third-most Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Kevin Harvick 29 0 0 7 11 2 13.2 91.9 2 Joey Logano 13 2 1 3 5 1 15.6 88.9 3 Dale Earnhardt Jr 31 1 2 9 13 1 15.2 92.6 4 Jimmie Johnson 27 3 3 11 18 1 9.6 106.9 5 Martin Truex Jr 19 0 1 3 7 0 15.1 80.4 6 Brad Keselowski 11 0 1 3 4 0 13.7 90.8 7 Matt Kenseth 31 0 0 3 11 1 15.7 86.7 8 Kurt Busch 28 2 2 12 16 5 14.4 105.9 9 Jamie McMurray 25 1 0 0 7 3 19.3 73.1 10 Denny Hamlin 19 3 4 9 13 2 11.8 108.3 11 Jeff Gordon 45 2 6 19 31 5 10 103.5 12 Ryan Newman 27 2 1 9 14 3 12.4 95.3 13 Paul Menard 17 0 0 0 2 1 23.6 64.6 14 Kasey Kahne 23 2 2 5 8 3 17.6 92.1 15 Clint Bowyer 19 0 0 2 8 0 14.6 82.8 16 Carl Edwards 21 0 2 5 8 1 15.5 94.2 * – Based on last 21 races at Pocono Raceway (2005 – 2015). Kyle Busch ’s Chase Eligibility 30th Justin Allgaier 317 Rank Driver Wins Points Points From 30th 31 Cole Whitt 0 314 -3 32 Kyle Busch 4 294 -23 33 Brett Moffitt # 0 266 -51 34 Alex Bowman 0 245 -72 35 Michael Annett 0 230 -87 36 Matt DiBenedetto # 0 205 -112 37 Josh Wise 0 186 -131 38 Michael McDowell 0 124 -193 39 Jeb Burton 0 111 -206 40 Alex Kennedy 0 71 -246 * To be eligible for the Chase, the driver must be in the top 30 of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings following race number 26. Pocono Raceway Data Season Race #: 21 of 36 (08-02-15) Track Size : 2.5-miles Banking/Turn 1 : 14 degrees Banking/Turn 2 : 8 degrees Banking/Turn 3 : 6 degrees Frontstretch Length : 3,740 feet Backstretch Length : 3,055 feet Shortstretch Length : 1,780 feet Race Length : 160 laps / 400 miles Top 10 Driver Ratings at Pocono Denny Hamlin ............................ 108.3 Jimmie Johnson ........................ 106.9 Kurt Busch ................................ 105.9 Jeff Gordon .............................. 103.5 Tony Stewart ............................... 97.6 Kyle Larson ................................ 95.7 Ryan Newman ............................. 95.3 Carl Edwards .............................. 94.2 Dale Earnhardt Jr ........................ 92.6 Kasey Kahne .............................. 92.1 Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2015 races (21 total) among active drivers at Pocono Raceway. Qualifying/Race Data 2014 pole winner : Kyle Larson , Chevrolet 183.438 mph, 49.063 secs, 08-01-14 2014 race winner : Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Chevrolet 127.411 mph, (03:08:22), 08-03-14 Track qualifying record: Kyle Larson , Chevrolet 183.438 mph, 49.610 secs, 08-03-14 Track race record: Jeff Gordon , Chevrolet 145.384 mph, (03:26:21), 06-12-11 At Pocono Raceway: History · Opened in 1968 as a three-quarter-mile track, Pocono Raceway held the first race on the 2.5-mile track in 1971. · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was in 1974 – won by Richard Petty , Dodge, 115.593 mph, 08/04/1974. · The 2.5-mile track was repaved during the fall of 2011. · 2012 marked the first season the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Pocono were scheduled for 400 miles. Prior to 2012 all NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races were 500 miles at Pocono Raceway. Starts · There have been 75 NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Pocono Raceway, one race from 1974 through 1981, and two per year since. · 327 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway; 229 in more than one. · Ricky Rudd leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in starts at Pocono with 55. · Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 45 starts (eighth most all-time) at Pocono; followed by Tony Stewart with 33 starts. · Denny Hamlin (19 starts) leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Pocono with a 6.632. Poles · 40 drivers have posted Coors Light poles at Pocono, led by Bill Elliott and Ken Schrader with five each; Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin lead all active drivers with three each. · Buddy Baker won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Pocono in 1974 with a speed of 144.122 mph. · Five drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Pocono. Bill Elliott holds the record for most consecutive poles at Pocono with three; fall 1984 and both races in 1985. · Two active drivers have posted consecutive Coors Light poles at Pocono: Denny Hamlin (2006 sweep) and Joey Logano (fall 2011 and spring 2012). · Youngest Pocono pole winner: Joey Logano (08/07/2011 – 21 years, 2 months, 14 days). · Oldest Pocono pole winner: David Pearson (06/10/1984 – 49 years, 5 months, 19 days). · Kyle Larson (8/03/2014) and Casey Mears (8/1/2004) posted their first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light poles at Pocono Raceway. Wins · 33 different drivers have won at Pocono Raceway, led by Jeff Gordon with six wins. · Seven active drivers have multiple wins at Pocono: Jeff Gordon (6), Denny Hamlin (4), Jimmie Johnson (3), Carl Edwards , Kasey Kahne , Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart (each have 2). · Seven drivers have posted consecutive wins at Pocono Raceway all-time, including three consecutive by Bobby Allison (1982 sweep and spring 1983) and Tim Richmond (1986 sweep and spring 1987). · Three of the seven drivers to win consecutive races at Pocono are active: Jimmie Johnson (2004 sweep); Denny Hamlin (2006 sweep and 2009 fall and 2010 spring races) and Dale Earnhardt Jr . (2014 sweep). · Youngest Pocono winner: Joey Logano (06/10/2012 – 22 years, 0 months, 17 days). · Oldest Pocono winner: Harry Gant (06/17/1990 – 50 years, 5 months, 7 days). · Hendrick Motorsports has the most wins at Pocono in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 17: Jeff Gordon (six), Tim Richmond (three), Jimmie Johnson (three), Dale Earnhardt Jr . (two), Kasey Kahne (one), Geoff Bodine (one) and Terry Labonte (one). · Eight different manufacturers have won in the NSCS at Pocono; led by Chevrolet with 31 victories; followed by Ford with 21 and Toyota has three. · 13 of the 75 (17.3%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Pocono have been won from the Coors Light pole; the most recent was Joey Logano (June, 2012). · 15 of the 74 (20%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Pocono have been won from the first starting position; the most recent was Jimmie Johnson (June, 2013). · The first starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (15) than any other starting position at Pocono Raceway. · 24 of the 75 (32%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Pocono have been won from the front row: 15 from the first starting position and nine from second-place. · 53 of the 75 (70.6%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Pocono have been won from a top-10 starting position. · Five of the 75 (6.7%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Pocono have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Pocono is 29th, by Carl Edwards in the spring of 2005. · One active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver has posted his first career win at Pocono Raceway: Denny Hamlin (06/11/06). · Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards are the only two active drivers to win at Pocono in their first appearances. · Matt Kenseth leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Pocono without visiting Victory Lane at 31; followed by Kevin Harvick with 29. Additional Finishing Position Stats · Mark Martin leads the series in runner-up finishes at Pocono with seven; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with six; followed by Kurt Busch with five. · Mark Martin leads the series in top-five finishes at Pocono with 20; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 19; followed by Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart with 12 each. · Mark Martin leads the series in top-10 finishes at Pocono with 34; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 31; followed by Tony Stewart with 22. · Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Pocono with a 9.630. Track Specific Stats · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in
NASCAR.com's Kenny Bruce compares Jimmie Johnson to the 'Intimidator' RELATED: Johnson wins at Dover for 10th time The greatest NASCAR driver of all time is … Jimmie Johnson ? That's the word on the street, or in this case the voice on the radio, and since the bluegrass channel was on a commercial break I decided to stick around long enough to hear how that particular conclusion was reached. Such comparisons are inevitable – it's the sort of thing that arises when one is chasing legends. No different than when Jeff Gordon was piling up victories and championships in pursuit of Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt . No different than when Earnhardt was piling up victories and championships in pursuit of Petty. And no different than when Petty began piling up wins and titles on his way to overtaking a host of former champions, including his father, Lee, the first to win three NASCAR premier series championships. What the 39-year-old Johnson has managed to accomplish in little more than 13 full seasons in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series certainly puts him in the same league with Petty and Earnhardt , NASCAR's only seven-time champions. There's no doubt that Johnson, fit and trim and now only two wins away from matching Earnhardt's career win total of 76 victories, is one of the sport's greatest drivers. But is he No. 1? From a numbers standpoint, the Hendrick Motorsports driver will undoubtedly surpass Earnhardt's win total, and it's likely he'll eventually capture a seventh championship. He could, in fact, become the first driver to win more than seven titles. That would make him the most successful driver from a championship standpoint (neither he nor anyone else will come close to Petty's mark of 200 career wins), but will that make him NASCAR's greatest driver? No. That designation, without question, belongs to Earnhardt . Statistics are a great way to gauge success. But it takes more than numbers to measure greatness. Johnson has managed to excel during what some claim is the most competitive era in the history of NASCAR. Yes, there are more winners, on average, today. But there are also more races on the schedule, thus also more opportunities. A larger number of teams run the full schedule today, although that doesn't necessarily mean there are more "better" teams competing. Earnhardt never ran a season consisting of 36 points races; Johnson's never run in fewer than 36. Earnhardt never had the opportunity to compete at Kansas, Chicago or Kentucky; but by the same token, Johnson never raced at North Wilkesboro or Riverside. I have a strong feeling both could have won at those tracks given the chance. I'll argue that the talent pool Earnhardt often faced was just as deep – with lineups including drivers such as Petty and Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough, Buddy Baker, Neil Bonnett, Geoff Bodine and Harry Gant. Eventually Bill Elliott , Dale Jarrett and Rusty Wallace, Davey Allison, Alan Kulwicki, Tim Richmond and others took their place. Most were champions; many are already members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Johnson is one of the greatest drivers that today's fans will ever see. What he has done has been nothing short of amazing. If one wants to argue that he would not have won 74 races and six championships had it not been for Hendrick Motorsports and Chad Knaus, the same could be said of Earnhardt , who owed much of his success to Richard Childress Racing and the talented group he worked with there. But what elevates Earnhardt above the rest is more than the fact that he was so successful. He provided fans with some of the sport's most memorable moments during his two-plus decades. Among them: winning the pole at Watkins Glen in '96 (and setting the track qualifying record, to boot) just two weeks after suffering a broken collarbone and sternum in a vicious crash at Talladega; climbing from his damaged car and into the ambulance, only to quickly exit and return to his car once he realized it would still run, at Daytona in '97; his first and only Daytona 500 victory the following season, a win that erased 19 years of heartbreak. There was the "rattle his cage" incident with Terry Labonte en route to victory in the night race at Bristol in '99; the wrongly-termed but aptly promoted "pass in the grass" on his way to winning the 1997 All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway ; and the charge from 18th to first in the final five laps of the 2000 Winston 500 at Talladega Superspeedway . For two decades, greatness drove a Chevrolet and it carried the number 3. They were memorable moments that elevated the sport and defined the man. Johnson can win more races and win more championships, but he can't match that. He needn't worry – no one else can, either. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule