Driver acknowledges challenges involved with one-car organization LONG POND, Pa. -- Eight weeks ago, Martin Truex Jr . snapped his 69-race winless streak in very convincing fashion, leading 97 laps at Pocono Raceway on his way to winning the Axalta 'We Paint Winners' 400 for his third career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win. Now, he is back at the "Tricky Triangle" for Sunday's Windows 10 400 (NBCSN/Live Extra, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) and the driver of No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet is looking for the season sweep at Pocono. "It feels a little different coming back this time for sure. It feels good. It was definitely a huge weekend for us, for all of us; for me, my team, for Barney (Visser, team owner) and just everybody that has put so much effort into Furniture Row Racing and the No. 78 car. "Hopefully, we can repeat on what we did last time. Obviously, it’s not going to be easy, but I feel like we are up for the challenge." Truex is looking to become the eighth driver to sweep both events in the same season. His good friend, Dale Earnhardt Jr ., became the seventh driver to sweep at Pocono last year. He will not be going for the sweep in the same car he took to Victory Lane in June as he has a new Chevrolet for this race. The New Jersey native indicated there is a little more pressure on this return trip just because they were so dialed in during the previous race at the 2.5-mile track. "You definitely feel a little more pressure just because we were so good here last time that you don’t want to screw it up. But at the same time, again, the track is a little bit different and everybody is getting better. I think the Gibbs Racing cars have proven that in a couple of weeks’ time you can make some really big gains. I think those guys are really the cars to beat right now. We’ve got to continue to work hard and try to get our stuff better and try to again get up front and start leading laps again and put ourselves in position to win again." Truex followed the June win with a third-place finish in the rain-shortened race at Michigan, but wrecks took Truex out of Sonoma (42nd-place) and Daytona (38th). He followed that up with a pair of top-20 finishes at Kentucky (17th) and Loudon (12th) before notching his sixth top-five result of the season with a fourth-place finish at Indianapolis last week. "It's been a little bit up and down here lately, but I feel like we still have speed in our racecars. We really haven’t been to any tracks where we feel like we have really performed well at. No 1.5-miles, a place like Dover where we led the most laps, places that I tend to run really well at. I think we have some more good tracks coming up. I feel like we still have that momentum, we just kind of had some bad luck along the way." Truex acknowledged that the different rules packages unveiled in the middle of the season were not favorable to a single-car team like Furniture Row. A low downforce package was run at Kentucky last month and will be used again at Darlington in September, while a high-drag package was used at Indianapolis last week and will be used again at Michigan in two weeks. The team started 2015 strong due to its quick grasp on the 2015 rules package as Truex became the first driver since Richard Petty (in 1969) with 14 top 10s in his first 15 races of the season. "We really geared up this season and put a lot of emphasis on building our cars and focusing on the rules package we thought we were going to have. A small team like ours can't make those big changes and go after a new rules package quite as fast as, say, the bigger teams. "We really put all our eggs in that basket of 'hey these are the '15 rules.' We developed our whole car around it over the winter and going into the start of the season. We really hope that it continues down that path. At this point we are not really sure what is going to happen. It’s definitely a difficult time for the teams for sure. "A lot of money being spent on wind tunnel time and aero stuff and just trying to figure those things out, but at the end of the day we don’t even know what we are going to have yet," Truex said. "So, it's definitely difficult, especially for the smaller teams to be able to do that." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Martin Truex Jr . talks about his hopes of repeating the magic he found the first time around and winning again at Pocono Raceway.
Martin Truex Jr . gets a flat tire during the first practice for the 5-hour ENERGY 301 and is allowed to change it while still on the track.
Truex on Ragan: 'He's probably got one coming' RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings Martin Truex Jr .'s run at Sonoma Raceway came to a sudden halt Sunday afternoon in the Toyota/Save Mart 350. Truex made contact with David Ragan on Lap 28 and wrecked in Turn 7, going into a tire barrier on the course. Truex went three rows deep into the tire barrier and his No. 78 Chevrolet was towed to the garage. The incident brought out the red flag as track workers repaired the fence. "Definitely a tough day," Truex Jr . said after being released from the infield care center. " ... When you start around 20th on those restarts, it's just a recipe for disaster. I was trying to be aggressive, made some moves. Had a couple cars passed and then the lane that I was in jammed up and the guys that I passed got back behind me. "You just get frustrated, you lose patience. I got into the 55's (Ragan's) door a little bit in Turn 7 and I guess he didn't like it and he figured he'd just dump me. He's probably got one coming, but other than that, it's just part of the restart deal and hate that I got my guys' car torn up." Truex finished 42nd. A winner in 2013 at the 1.99-mile road course, Truex started the race in 12th position but would finish in 42nd-place, his worst result of the season. After a top-10 effort at Michigan on June 14, he became the first driver since Richard Petty in 1969 to have 14 top-10 finishes in the first 15 races of a season. Ragan would later exit the race after wrecking with Carl Edwards on Lap 78 and finished 39th. "With Martin , he just flat-out door-slammed me and ran me completely off the race track," Ragan said after a wreck later in the race sidelined his No. 55 Toyota. "I had all four tires in the gravel and again, I'm just trying to blend back on the race track and he was right there. So Martin just made a mistake and he paid the price for it." -- NASCAR.com's Zack Albert contributed to this report FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Logano, Kyle Busch and Truex Jr . fall victim to dry fuel cells LONG POND, Pa. -- It was a tale of two races in Sunday's Windows 10 400 at Pocono Raceway and the only thing that could slow Kyle Busch down was an empty fuel tank. Eight cautions in the first 97 laps didn't allow drivers to get into much of a rhythm, but a 63-lap green-flag run to the finish set up a chaotic ending. The top drivers of the afternoon -- Joey Logano , Busch and Martin Truex Jr . -- all ran out of fuel late while running in the top three and plenty of others were close too. That misfortune allowed Matt Kenseth to lead the final lap and steal the victory. Logano ran dry on Lap 158 with three laps to go, giving way to Busch for the lead. Except on the final lap, Busch ran out of gas. In between that, Truex Jr .’s fuel tank ran dry on Lap 159. All three stopped for service around Lap 124 during the lengthy green-flag run. Pit road speeding penalties cost Logano and Truex better finishes than what the final results show. Those penalties were assessed after the finish, making them both the last cars on the lead lap. "I don't know where we were on our strategy and all that stuff," Busch said on pit road after his 21st-place finish. "I got to debrief with Adam (Stevens, Busch's crew chief) first. I don't how close we were, if we were one lap short of making it, then I probably needed to save or do a better job of running those last 30 laps or so. He kept telling me to save my stuff, save my stuff. Just in case we had a yellow there and had to race. "I didn't know we were going to be short on fuel but once the 22 (Logano) ran out, to try and save fuel in those three laps just wasn't going to happen. We were short. We ran out but we went down swinging and I can't fault my guys for that. An awesome call. They called the race right and another Monster Energy can of gas and we'd be winning another one." Busch came into Pocono riding three straight victories and looking to be closing in a spot in the top 30 in the point standings. He will head to Watkins Glen 32nd in the standings, just 13 points out from getting into the top 30. "We got greedy. I don't know how greedy, but that's the position we're in," Busch said. For Logano, the result was another close but no cigar-type finish for the No. 22 Team Penske Ford. The 2015 Daytona 500 winner had a strong car all day, leading a race-high 97 laps but had to settle for 20th-place. This comes on the heels of two runner-up finishes to Busch in the previous three races. "I guess our numbers, from what Todd (Gordon, crew chief) said, was good enough to make it by a half a lap," Logano said. "I was saving fuel just to cushion it. I thought I was going to be good and then I started running out and knew we weren’t going to make it. "We keep getting so close to these wins and they don't happen and it is so frustrating. The truth is that is if we keep racing hard and racing to the front we will win races. We were so close. You are counting down the laps in your head thinking you are going to make it but just didn't do it." The pressure Busch was putting on Logano from second place didn't allow the 25-year-old to save as much and ultimately both were on the wrong side of the fuel game. "You can only save so much and the 18 (Busch) was doing the same thing. He had to push me and I had to start saving a certain amount. He would catch me and then I would pull away a little bit. We were playing cat and mouse out there. It is not the way you want to race. You want to go to the gas and race hard. These fuel mileage races are always exciting, usually more so when you are on the winning end, not the losing end." Truex , who won at Pocono in June, saw a silver lining when he led his first laps since that win. However, he came out 19th, marking his fifth finish outside the top 10 in the past six races. It's a disappointing statistic when compared to the No. 78 team's 14 top 10s in the first 15 races of the season. "Once again on the wrong end of a fuel mileage race," Truex said, who finished fifth at Charlotte, when Carl Edwards rode to victory on a fuel mileage play. "We thought we were in good shape there. I saved the whole last run. The last 15, 20 laps I saved a lot. So not sure where we missed that." But for Truex , who is currently sixth in the provisional Chase Grid, he was focused on the bigger picture from the weekend's work. "Yeah, it's disappointing but what I am going to take away from this race is how our Furniture Row guys kept on making our Chevrolet better and better during the weekend," Truex said. "We were a contender today and in the big picture that's the most important point for our team as we head into the Chase. We were rolling; we just needed a little more fuel to make it an even better weekend." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
New at-track shopping experience begins at Pocono RELATED: See photos of the new merchandise experience LONG POND, Pa. -- A new era in NASCAR shopping has officially launched with the new "Trackside Superstore." A ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday at Pocono Raceway officially ushered in the new retail model as the sport moves away from merchandise haulers and into an at-track shopping experience that is faster and features more selections for fans. Defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick , Pocono June race winner Martin Truex Jr ., Ross Tannenbaum, president of Fanatics Authentic, Brandon Igdalsky, president of Pocono Raceway, and Blake Davidson, vice president of Licensing and Consumer Products for NASCAR, spoke before fans rushed in to experience the store. Vice Chairman of NASCAR Mike Helton also checked out the "Trackside Superstore." The "Trackside Superstore," which is run by Fanatics, totals 60,000 square feet, has specific sections for most drivers and carries $2.5 million in retail inventory, while also carrying a 50 percent increase in product assortment for most of the drivers. There also are dedicated specialty shops for ladies, kids, collectibles and tailgate. There are still some select haulers, most notably for Team Penske and Brad Keselowski merchandise. "This NASCAR superstore is like nothing I've ever seen," Igdalsky told the crowd. "I'm so excited that we were able to launch this year at Pocono. NASCAR has done a great job of enhancing the fan experience, and this is just the next level." The ease of the shopper experience at the "Trackside Superstore" was something that immediately struck Truex . "I'm super excited about this," Truex said. "I can't tell you how many questions I've had this year on Twitter just about, 'Hey, where do I get that hat? Where do I get that shirt?' This makes it easy. Everybody goes in there, finds their favorite driver, finds what they're looking for very easily." He later jokingly added that, "I feel like it's welcome to 2015 everybody." Harvick echoed Truex's thoughts, while also adding his own perspective from when Kevin Harvick Incorporated handled his merchandise. "You come in and walk through your section and you realize how simple the process is to go about finding your driver and checkout," Harvick said. "The thing I noticed the most was just how easily you can see everything and how there might have been a whole bunch of products before that you didn't know where on the trailers. It's definitely like Martin said, it's welcome to 2015. ... It's a huge step for everybody. "Having the experience that we had running our own merchandise stuff for several years at KHI and now seeing this, it's really something that's really neat. You understand the undertaking it takes to get to this point." Davidson indicated this has been a year-long project, from seeking proposals to revealing Fanatics as the selection to running the business in January to today's opening. "We've been working on this a long time," Davidson said. "And we walked in and saw what they put together. Fanatics has done a tremendous job. It's really blown us away, the breadth of product. The ability of the fans to touch and feel the product, which we knew they would be able to do. There's so much here, there's so much new product here that we've never had a track before. I think people are really going to be excited when they get here." Cayce and Mark Votek have been coming to Pocono for the past 10 years. Cayce, a fan of Denny Hamlin , liked that even with the new setup there was still a feel of familiarity. "I was a little skeptical at first," Cayce said. "I do like that I can touch the stuff first. That's actually really cool, probably dangerous for me because now I just grab it all. I know all of the people from Denny's hauler because I go there all the time and I actually ran into one, so I like that they're still here. There's still some familiarity. So far, so good." In addition to being able to touch and feel the products, Tannenbaum touted the reduced wait times fans will have to buy merchandise. The Fanatics executive estimated that in peak times the wait at a hauler was between 45 minutes and an hour. However, he acknowledged that this new model wasn't without his challenges when compared to running merchandise at other events like the NHL Winter Classic or the SEC Championship Game. "From a process, this is absolutely the most challenging one we've had and I think will ever have," Tannenbaum said. "When you think about it, go set up the Super Bowl and then break it down 38 times and set up again the next week. That's what makes it the most challenging. At Fanatics, it was an exciting challenge. It was 'go for a solution to this and make this work.' And what we presented to NASCAR and where we ended up today is very different because we learned so much." Tannenbaum added that Fanatics has three different tent structures, two different sets of fixtures to hold merchandise and one set of inventory for the trackside superstore. Next weekend's race at Watkins Glen will have a slightly different setup and a team is already up there to set it up. A team from Pocono will drive to Watkins Glen when the Tricky Triangle race weekend ends to build the setup out with the inventory. "What you are seeing here is going to be the standard superstore for all tracks," Tannenbaum said. "What is going to happen is there will be more locations and satellite locations at tracks that do either more revenue or less revenue, wider tracks. I use Richmond as the example. This store at Richmond, everybody walks into that front, it's pretty straightforward. At Daytona or the really big tracks, you are going to have to have multiple locations to meet the consumers' demand. We are going to look at what revenues are at the track, what the flow of traffic is and make sure that we can manage all of that. But this will be the central point for all of the stores." And while the new setup may take some time for fans to get used to, Truex said this was a good change for the long run. "I know a lot of NASCAR fans are worried about things changing, but I assure them this is a change for the better and I think it looks great." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
No. 78 Chevrolet takes checkered flag after leading 97 laps RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings " BUY: Truex Jr . gear LONG POND, Pa. – Martin Truex Jr . knew that his third career victory would come – eventually. Enjoying easily the finest season of his NASCAR career, Truex raced to a convincing win in Sunday’s Axalta “We Paint Winners” 400, leading 97 of 160 laps, including the final 27 at Pocono Raceway . His victory marked the third consecutive Sprint Cup race in which Truex led the most laps. He'd led 131 laps at both Charlotte and Dover, only to come home fifth and sixth in the last two weeks. "We finally got it," said Truex , who had registered top-10 finishes in 12 of the first 13 races this season. "We've had a great season. We have had everything it has taken to win races (and) we just hadn't got it done. "This team deserves to win and I've known that all year long. Throughout my career I've kind of gotten used to disappointment, honestly, and I've learned to deal with those days where it didn't go your way, even though you didn’t do anything wrong." The victory ended Truex ’s 69-race winless skid. A long time coming, it was popular in the garage – even with his fiercest rivals – for multiple reasons. Truex drives for Furniture Row Racing , a bit of an outlier in the racing world as a single-car team based in Denver. Sunday's Sprint Cup victory was the second ever for Furniture Row and owner Barney Visser, who also won at Darlington with driver Regan Smith in the 2011 Southern 500. After winning consecutive NASCAR XFINITY Series titles, Truex , 34, had bounced around, from Dale Earnhardt Inc. to Michael Waltrip Racing , where it looked like he might have found a home. Then came the second Richmond race of 2013 in which Truex had seemingly raced his way into the Chase – only to have his team penalized out of the picture. He then lost his ride when MWR was compelled to consolidate. Prior to Sunday, he'd managed only two Sprint Cup victories -- at Dover in 2007 and Sonoma in 2013. MORE: Drivers rally around Truex Jr . after victory But even his on-track travails paled in comparison to those of his long-time girlfriend Sherry Pollex, who battled cancer in 2014 – a year in which Truex managed to lead only one lap all season. If that wasn't enough, Truex lost his grandmother this week. It was Sherry who told Truex to have faith and dig deep after the frustration of 2013 and that everything would work out. "I kind of believed her," Truex said. "I just knew it was going to take a lot of work. I knew it was going to be a tough road. … I felt really fortunate that there was a great ride open with the (Furniture Row) 78 … Then Sherry's situation happened and it was like: All right, this is when you show people what you're made of. She showed me what she was made of and it was like, wow, if she can do that, I can do this. "It never gets any better than this. It takes time to heal things, especially with what Sherry and I went through. This just kind of makes you forget all about it. I just feel super-blessed to be with this group of guys. I'm just proud to drive cars for them and proud that Sherry is here, healthy. She is as excited as I am and everything is going well for her." Kevin Harvick , who finished second on Sunday, said he was "really happy" for Truex . "If you're going to lose to somebody today, that's a great person to lose to," Harvick said. "You look at everything, personally and professionally, Martin and Sherry have dealt with and you have to be super-happy for them. To see them have that bright spot is something I think the whole garage will support and be happy with." Dale Earnhardt Jr ., a long-time friend of Truex , who finished 11th, concurred "I'm just happy for him," Earnhardt said. "I know he's been through a lot of stuff, both inside the car and outside the car the last several years. He's been able to get into a good opportunity with good people. He's got a team that believes in him. They've come a long way over the last several years." WATCH: Dale Jr . on Truex's victory Harvick, fastest in all three practice sessions this weekend, had nothing for Truex , who opened a 2.75-second lead with 12 laps to go. If Truex had a true advantage against Harvick, it was on restarts, of which there were four in the final 40 laps. Truex avoided the need to hold off Harvick one last time when Danica Patrick (whose crash brought out a caution on Lap 135) went spinning for a second time, but this time right through the entry of pit lane. This time, the race stayed green. "The difference was the one real good (restart)," Truex said. "Joey (Logano) was behind me and gave me a good shot. I just tried to mix it up so the (guys behind me) weren't sure what I was going to do next. I think we picked the right gear ratio for restarts here and that is critical." Truex's triumph was also the first for crew chief Cole Pearn. "We've got a really good, tight-knit group of guys," Pearn said. "That makes it a lot of fun being out there (in Denver). We've all made similar commitments in our lives. We hang out together and that just makes it a ton of fun when you can succeed with a group like that." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
No. 78 places third, carries momentum from Michigan RELATED: Complete results for Michigan " Analysis of all 43 drivers at Michigan BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Martin Truex Jr . almost made the most of Sunday's rainy race day at Michigan International Speedway , aiming for his second straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory on the heels of the previous weekend's Pocono breakthrough. Instead, a brush with NASCAR royalty and continued momentum were respectable consolation prizes. Truex finished third in Sunday's rain-shortened Quicken Loans 400 , failing to lead a lap for the first time in a five-race span. But the streak associated with his strong start to 2015 became a historic one. With Sunday's result, Truex became the first driver to post 14 top-10 finishes in the season's first 15 races since King Richard Petty in 1969. "Just missed it a little bit today, but really proud of our season, really proud to have obviously my name mentioned next to Richard Petty," Truex said. "The King is pretty special, so thankful for my team and what they've done this year, and hopefully we'll keep this thing rolling." Momentum, as it pertained to the race itself, was difficult to achieve. The multiple starts and stops for periodic rain showers resulted in four red flags and more caution laps than green-flag laps in the opening 50 circuits. Even with the interruptions, Truex had moved all the way from his ninth-place starting spot to second in the running order. But in Truex's mind, the race turned for the Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Chevrolet team and crew chief Cole Pearn during their first pit stop. When the yellow flew for a competition caution on Lap 40, Truex entered the pits in second place but left in seventh as the crew waited to get extra fuel in the tank. Truex lined up on the less-advantageous inside row for that restart and subsequent ones, halting his progress until the latter stages of the race. Measuring progress through the handful of brief rain delays wasn't an easy task. Pearn has been an integral part of Furniture Row's rise in his first season as a Sprint Cup crew chief, but for all his early signs of pit-box savvy, he'd never quite seen anything like the soggy Sunday in Michigan's Irish Hills. "It's got to be the weirdest race I've ever been a part of, that's for sure," Pearn said. "As many caution laps as we ran, the strategy kept changing. I felt like we did right at the end there, which it either could've gone green or could've restarted on the front row or fourth, I think we could've had a shot to win. "I felt like the car was good enough, but it's really hard to know. The pace was up and down -- some runs were really slow and then it picked back up at the end there, so it was all over the map." MORE: Manufacturer change for No. 78 team? For Truex , the rain delays posed less of an impact on strategy than they did on his focus. "More than anything it's just a pain in the butt," Truex said. "I mean, you get in there, you get ready to go, and you're like, all right, here we come, getting ready to go green, and it's raining again. It's just a pain in the butt. Once you get in the car and get the helmet on and get mentally prepared, you're ready to go, it's kind of just a big letdown when you've got to stop and get out of the car again. "More than anything, we just want to get out there and get racing and put on a good show and then get to go home and spend some time there." Circumstances -- whether rain- or restart-related -- didn't fall in favor of the Furniture Row outfit with the same alignment that they did at Pocono Raceway . But the team gets to carry the headway from another top-five finish back to its Colorado home base with an idle week for the series coming up. "I really felt like we had a good car capable of winning the race today; we just didn't really have the track position to show it, having to stay on the bottom as much as we did," Pearn said. "But that's just the way it went. Still good to keep the momentum going and have something we can continue to build off of." 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
Hendrick driver gives honest assessment of where organization is right now RELATED: Complete lineup for Sunday's race " See all 43 paint schemes LONG POND, Pa. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr . is the only driver other than Kyle Busch to win one of the past five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. However, the driver of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet is aware that the four-team organization he calls home has been a bit off in recent weeks, especially compared to that of Joe Gibbs Racing , in its first year of fielding four cars. "I think you got to be honest with yourself," Earnhardt Jr . said Friday at Pocono. "The Gibbs guys have found more speed. They look like over the last couple of weeks to be a lot stronger and that we're not on top of the mountain anymore, by ourselves anymore at least. They found some speed and we need to combat that with speed of our own." In the past five races, JGR has four wins (all by Busch) and nine top fives. During that same stretch, Hendrick has just one win and three top fives (Earnhardt won at Daytona and has another top-five finish). And since that win at Daytona, Hendrick Motorsports as an organization has led just two laps in the past three races, while JGR has led 330. "It's business as usual as far as I can see," Earnhardt said. "We definitely understand when we don't perform well. Last week was frustrating. I don't think we've been too thrilled over the last month about how things have gone for us. From Rick (Hendrick) on down, you get the impression that things need to be better and everyone needs to work harder. "We have meetings every Tuesday. We had that meeting with the team and then we have a meeting that all the drivers and the crew chiefs are together, Rick's there. We have that meeting every Tuesday and everybody, whether we are all running great, we talk about how to get better. And if we aren't running well at all, we talk about how to get better. Even when things are going good, you see areas where you need to keep working. Because you know it cycles in this sport." Things do indeed cycle around. Last season, Hendrick won 13 races to JGR's two. And this season both organizations have six wins. As things stand now, if Busch can get into the top 30 in points by the regular-season finale at Richmond, JGR will likely send all four of its drivers into the Chase. And while Jimmie Johnson and Earnhardt have clinched spots in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne are still looking for that elusive win, although each hold spots in the provisional Chase Grid based on their point positions. "It's a never-ending pursuit to build the fastest race car week in, week out," Earnhardt said. "And it looks like right now it's a mad scramble to get ready for the Chase. I'd love to be sitting here three-tenths faster than everybody and fighting only my teammates for the win. We need to work a little harder to get a little more and be ready for the Chase to be able to get out there and compete. "It definitely looks like our competition has improved and so I think we can be honest with ourselves. We definitely aren't where we want to be. But I've seen it before. These guys are working on it every single day trying to find that speed and make that difference back up and put ourselves back to have the advantage on the straightaways and in the corners. I'm not too worried about it. We got the best resources. We got the best bossman, and he doesn't quit and he doesn't settle for second. He's in there pushing everybody everyday." The sport's most popular driver will look to turn the recent fortunes of the organization around on Sunday in the Windows 10 400 (1:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM) at Pocono Raceway where he qualified 15th. Junior has a favorable history in recent years at Pocono, completing the season sweep of both NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events last year, and has four top fives in his past five races here. In June, he finished 11th in a race won by Martin Truex Jr , which snapped a five-race win streak at Pocono for Hendrick. After finishing the opening practice session in 14th place, Earnhardt was a bit disappointed but said the team learned what was needed for race trim. "We will see what we have (Saturday)," said Earnhardt. "I'm really anxious to get ourselves back into race trim for those practices (Saturday) and see how we can sort our stuff out and see where we really are. We've always run good here, there shouldn't be any issues. We showed up with some issues. I'm anxious to get to work on the car and see where we can figure out where we are going to be and be competitive." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule