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Catch up before the FedEx 400, 1 p.m. ET (FOX Sports 1) What: FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks . Where: Dover International Speedway , 1-mile oval in Dover , Del. When: Sunday, May 31; 1 pm ET TV/Radio: FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Distance: 400 miles Pit road speed: 35 mph Caution car speed: 45 mph Fuel window: 81 laps On the front row " Full starting lineup Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin earned his first pole position of the season and third career at Dover . The Martinsville (VA.) winner will start alongside the hometown favorite, Martin Truex Jr . It is the best start of the season for the New Jersey native Truex, who is the highest ranked driver without a win in 2015. He has good history at The Monster Mile, scoring his first career Cup victory here in 2007. Fastest in practice: Pole-winner Hamlin's No. 11 FedEx Toyota topped both of Saturday's practice sessions, turning in a best speed of 156.087 mph in final practice. His Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Carl Edwards was second fastest in each Saturday practice and JGR driver Matt Kenseth top-10 in both. Defending race winner Jimmie Johnson was fastest in Friday's practice and fifth quickest in both Saturday sessions. Last year's winner: Johnson won last year's race in relatively dominant fashion, leading a race best seven times for 272 laps. It was his second win in as many weeks and made him the all-time Dover race winner with nine victories. On the line: With nine winners in the first 12 races, the trend is for yet another to punch his ticket to the Chase. Truex has to be considered the favorite for this. He and Kevin Harvick lead the series with 11 top-10 efforts. Truex's No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevy has led the most laps in the last two points-races -- at Kansas and at Charlotte. He was runner-up at Las Vegas in March and has two fifth-place showings in the last three races and qualified second. History lesson: Even with six championship trophies and 73 wins, Johnson approaches another historical milestone this week that he is especially proud of. Should he collect his 10 th Dover win on Sunday, he would be only the fifth driver in NASCAR history to record double digit wins at a track. The last to do it was Dale Earnhardt (10) at Talladega. Johnson would join the esteemed company of Richard Petty who has double-digit wins at Daytona, Martinsville, North Wilkesboro, Richmond, and Rockingham, and Darrell Waltrip (Bristol, Martinsville, and North Wilkesboro) and David Pearson (Darlington). A Good Start: Outside polesitter Truex can take solace in an interesting Dover statistic. The second starting position has produced more winners in this race than any other starting position. Front row drivers have won 31 percent of all the races. Nearly 80 percent of Dover race winners started from the top 10 positions on the grid. Return to Glory: Three-time Cup champ Tony Stewart 's last victory came in this race two years ago. Smoke has a good record at The Monster Mile with three wins and 17 top-10s in 31 starts. And, although his No. 14 Code 3 Associates/Mobil 1 Chevy will be starting from the 26 th position, Stewart holds a distinguished mark. Only five times in 90 Dover Cup races has the winner started from outside the top-20. Stewart was the last to do it – winning from 22 nd place on the grid. Kyle Petty won the 1995 spring Dover race starting 37 th . They said it: " It's hard to say one aspect that I enjoy the most [about the Dover track], but just the set of corners from straightaway to straightaway, you kind of work up your bravery. You make it through the corner, you get on the next straightaway and you smile, 'like wow, that was pretty cool, I’m going to do it again here, here we go.' And you fly through [turns] two and three and you just end up wit that mindset around the racetrack. It's a ton of fun." – Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Pro Services Chevrolet) FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Roush teammates move past Monster Mile incident, look towards Michigan BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Chris Buescher and Darrell Wallace Jr ., teammates-turned-rivals two weeks ago, said Friday they've put their Dover differences behind them, turning their focus toward an all-important track for their Roush Fenway Racing organization. Buescher enters Saturday's Great Clips 250 Benefiting Paralyzed Veterans of America (1:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1) at Michigan International Speedway as the NASCAR XFINITY Series points leader. Wallace, in his first year driving for Roush Fenway, ranks 49 points behind his teammate in fifth place. Their proximity in the standings aside, the two teammates were not exactly chummy after clanging fenders in the latter stages of the series' most recent race at Dover International Speedway . Buescher drove away to his second victory of the season while Wallace faded with a flat tire. The run-in made the Roush Fenway camp's Monday morning meeting after Dover an awkward one, but two weeks later, the waters appear to have smoothed. "It was hard racing is what it comes down to," Buescher told NASCAR.com before Friday's rain-delayed XFINITY practice on the 2-mile track. "We've had a talk about it and obviously it was not an ideal situation and we don't ever want to be in the same situation again. We've talked and we're going to put it behind us. We're going to go into Michigan and treat it as another race where we need to go be teammates again and go perform at our highest level. And we'll be OK. We've talked about it a little bit, and it's just a racing deal, you know? You'll go through that sometimes." Wallace's easy-going Friday demeanor was in direct contrast to his dismay after the checkered flag at Dover . After joking about how "interesting" the Monday meeting was, Wallace said the team was ready to move forward. " Dover's definitely behind us," Wallace said. "We didn't see eye-to-eye in that meeting. We still know we've got to be smart, but I told them they've got a lot more to lose than me." Both Roush Fenway drivers may be feeling more burden to perform this weekend at Michigan, a longtime stronghold for team owner Jack Roush. The premium on running well in the showcase event for manufacturers Ford and Chevrolet is a tall order, a team edict that places a little more pressure on Saturday's 250-miler. "Every time we talk about Michigan, this exact subject comes up," Buescher said. "It's Jack's home track, it's Ford's home track -- we're expected to come here and perform at our highest level. This is one that, it's a tough race to win. It's a lot of momentum, it's a lot of drafting, which has been difficult for me to get a hold of at a place like this. We try really hard to make sure we bring the best stuff possible here and get the win. "There is pressure here. We keep it circled. We know that we need to come and win this race, not only for Jack but for Ford and for our race team." Wallace said he participated in a private fantasy league among family members growing up, making sure to stock his lineup with heavily favored Roush drivers for each Michigan race. While Roush Fenway's XFINITY efforts -- with three drivers in the top eight in standings -- may be outpacing their Sprint Cup Series brethren (no drivers better than 18th), Wallace suggests that side of the operation may be ready to turn the corner. "We've actually found speed fairly quick," Wallace said of his XFINITY No. 6 team. "It's been cool to see (Greg) Biffle finish second in the 600 there, and he was strong during the All-Star Race. They continue to show speed. It's starting to improve, so it's cool to see that for the future. Hopefully we can continue to find more speed as a team overall." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
No. 48 driver would join NASCAR's elite with a 'Monster Mile' victory DOVER , Del. – With six NASCAR Sprint Cup championships and 73 race victories Jimmie Johnson is the most decorated driver of his era. And yet this Sunday, he still stands to elevate his legacy and join the sport's greats in another milestone. Should Johnson, 39, drive his No. 48 Lowe's Pro Services Chevrolet into Dover International Speedway 's Victory Lane in Sunday's FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks, it would he his 10th win at the famed and feared Monster Mile, putting him in elite "double-digit" company. The last person to win 10 races at a single track was the late seven-time Cup champion Dale Earnhardt at Talladega in 2000. Only three others have accomplished the feat – NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty (at Daytona; Richmond; Rockingham, North Carolina; Martinsville, Virginia; and North Wilkesboro, North Carolina), Darrell Waltrip (Bristol, Tennessee; Martinsville; and North Wilkesboro) and David Pearson (Darlington, South Carolina). And if that weren't impressive enough, Johnson is only 24 laps shy of leading 3,000 laps at Dover . Should he break that threshold he would be one of only seven drivers in history to lead 3,000 miles at a single track. His Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon is the only other active driver to hit that mark (at Martinsville). In winning this race last year, Johnson led a dominant 272 laps. "It's crazy for me to have this reality,'' said Johnson, who will start 14th Sunday. "It's nothing that I thought would happen. I'm certainly enjoying the moment while I’m here." Beyond the status in the history books, Johnson has often expressed how genuinely honored he is to have his name alongside the NASCAR legends. He has always spoken reverently about the drivers who came before him and even after all he's accomplished Johnson still seems to be the one humbled by the company he's keeping. "If I was able to accomplish it, I'd just be honored to be in that same situation that had been done by Dale Earnhardt Sr.,'' Johnson said. "I never had the chance to race against him. It's one big empty void that I have in my career. I feel is that I never had a chance to be crashed by him or have a tire mark put on my car, to pass (laughing) or to be passed. That whole experience, I didn't have that opportunity and I so wish that I did.'' Johnson's success at the notoriously challenging Dover one-mile concrete oval is especially impressive. The track is nicknamed the"Monster Mile" for a reason – tight, high-banked and physically demanding. There is little room for error on track or on pit road. And yet Johnson has been good here since day one. Literally. In his 2002 rookie year, Johnson swept both Cup races. And he has shown a propensity to get on a roll. He's won back-to-back races three times. He swept the 2009 races at Dover and has won two of the last three here, finishing third to teammate Gordon last fall. "I go all the way back to my first trip here in an ASA (American Speed Association) car and it was love at first site,'' said Johnson, who won the pole and finished eighth in his very first Dover race in 1999. So why has Johnson been able to master the Monster that has challenged so many others? Interestingly, it's the difficulty that intrigues Johnson, not that the track is necessarily easy for him. "I guess to generalize it, it would be the intensity required to run a lap here,'' Johnson said. "It's hard to say that there is one aspect that I enjoy the most, but just the set of corners from straightaway to straightaway. You kind of work up your bravery, you make it through the corner. "You get it on the next straightaway and you smile like, 'wow that was pretty cool. I'm going to do it again. Here we go.' And you fly though turns three and four and you just end up with that mindset around the track. It's tons of fun.'' Nine trophies no doubt make it more fun. "There are a few tracks where I'm in a really neat position to chase history,'' Johnson said. "Again, it's not a situation I ever thought I'd find myself in, but now that I'm here it's certainly in front me. "It's on my mind and it's something I would love to do." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Coors Light Pole winner, teammate Edwards go 1-2 in both sessions RELATED: Practice 2 results " Final practice results Denny Hamlin kept his car at the top of the speed charts in Saturday's final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, a session cut short by a significant fluid leak at Dover International Speedway . Hamlin pushed his Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota to a best lap of 156.087 mph on the 1-mile concrete track. Hamlin also led Saturday's early practice and secured the first starting spot with the Coors Light Pole Award in Friday's qualifying. As in Saturday's early session, Hamlin's JGR teammate Carl Edwards was second-fastest in the No. 19 Toyota with a lap of 155.602 mph. Paul Menard was third-best at 155.206 mph in the Richard Childress Racing No. 27 Chevrolet. Matt Kenseth was fourth-fastest and Kyle Busch fifth as Joe Gibbs Racing entries claimed four of the top five spots on the practice leaderboard. Jimmie Johnson , a nine-time Dover winner, logged the sixth-best lap ahead of Sunday's FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM). The final session was originally scheduled for 50 minutes, but a major fluid leak from the rear of Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet oiled a large portion of the track. Practice was stopped for approximately 13 minutes for extensive clean-up. Race officials added five minutes to the end of the session to make up for the red flag. Defending Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick , the standings leader, was seventh-fastest in the final tune-up in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet. Hamlin stays the course in practice 2 Denny Hamlin continued his steady show of speed at Dover International Speedway , leading Saturday morning's next-to-last NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice. Hamlin wheeled the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota to a best lap of 156.331 mph on the 1-mile concrete layout. A day earlier, he landed the Coors Light Pole Award, clinching the No. 1 starting spot for Sunday's FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM). Though Hamlin has three pole positions for the last six Dover events, he has yet to score a Sprint Cup victory at the Monster Mile. Hamlin already has wins in hand this season at Martinsville Speedway and in the non-points NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. Carl Edwards , a teammate of Hamlin's at JGR and last weekend's Coca-Cola 600 winner, clinched the second spot on the practice leaderboard with a 156.325-mph lap. His best time in the No. 19 Toyota was just one-thousandth of a second slower than Hamlin's chart-topping lap. Kurt Busch was third-fastest at 155.736 mph in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet. Jimmie Johnson , a nine-time Dover winner in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevy, was fourth-fastest at 155.723 mph. David Ragan , prepping for his third start in the Michael Waltrip Racing No. 55 Toyota, completed the top five at 155.602 mph. Defending Sprint Cup champion and current points leader Kevin Harvick was eighth-fastest in the 50-minute session. Final Sprint Cup practice is scheduled for 1-1:50 p.m. ET (FOX Sports 1). FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
No. 48 driver holds off Harvick in green-white-checkered finish RELATED: Full race results " Updated standings " BUY: Johnson gear, merchandise DOVER , Del. -- Jimmie Johnson , welcome to the club. With his overtime victory in Sunday’s FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway , Johnson became the fifth driver to win 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at a single track, joining Richard Petty, David Pearson, Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt Sr. in sharing that distinction. Johnson’s triumph was his series-best fourth of the season and the 74th of his career, eighth most all-time and two behind NASCAR Hall of Famer Earnhardt in seventh place. Unlike many of the six-time champion’s past victories at the Monster Mile, this was not a dominating performance by the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Johnson led but 23 laps, and didn’t take the top spot until he beat race runner-up Kevin Harvick to the stripe for a restart on Lap 383. Johnson quickly cleared Harvick and led the rest of the way, but not before a caution for a wreck involving Clint Bowyer , Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch slowed the field on Lap 386. At that point, Johnson and Harvick were the only two drivers to stay out on old tires, but Johnson was able to maintain control of the race on the subsequent restart on Lap 391. He repeated the performance during a green-white-checkered-flag finish that took the event five laps past its posted distance of 400, after a wreck involving Greg Biffle , Casey Mears and AJ Allmendinger produced the seventh caution on Lap 398 and forced the overtime. After the final restart on Lap 404, Johnson crossed the finish line .435 seconds ahead of Harvick, who posted his ninth top-2 finish in 13 races this season and extended his series lead to 44 points over sixth-place finisher Martin Truex Jr . Johnson said he was able to maintain the lead on old tires “just driving hard and working that track bar adjuster as much as I could. “I was trying to be smart with my line and I guess guys on two tires weren’t all that fast. (Crew chief) Chad (Knaus) said something to me about that on the radio, and they never really came, you know? The No. 4 (Harvick) and I did just fine on old tires and held those guys off.” Harvick, on the other hand, had no track bar to work with, because the in-car adjuster had broken during the race. “Yeah, we just struggled at the end of the race on restarts, really all day on the restarts,” said Harvick, who led 91 laps but failed to get his first victory at the high-banked concrete track. “Once the track bar broke, we were pretty much in a box and just kind of had to hold on for the first 25 laps (of a run), and if we weren't in the front, then we struggled to just maintain what we had. “All in all, everybody did a great job, and I think when you look at Dover , it's been a good race track for us. We've led laps and just haven't quite finished it yet, but a good, solid day.” Kyle Larson ran third, followed by Kasey Kahne and Aric Almirola . Starting on the outside of the front row next to Coors Lights Polesitter Denny Hamlin , Truex led a race-high 131 laps—racking up most laps led in his third straight Sprint Cup points race without winning. Hamlin led 118 laps but was waylaid by the Lap 386 wreck and came home 21st, three laps down. Notes: Johnson has now led 2,999 laps at Dover , one shy of become the seventh driver in Sprint Cup history to lead 3,000 laps at a single track… This was only the second green-white-checkered-flag finish at Dover , the first coming in the fall of 2005, and the first ever in the Sprint Cup race at the Monster Mile… In his second race back from surgery to repair his broken right leg and left foot, Kyle Busch was a fixture in the top five until Brian Scott ’s Chevrolet collided with Busch’s No. 18 Toyota in Turn 3 on Lap 376. Busch finished 36th, suffering a setback to his hopes of finishing in the top 30 in the regular-season standings. Busch is now 40th, 168 points behind 30th-place Justin Allgaier . FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule All-time premier series wins Rank Driver Wins 1. Richard Petty 200 2. David Pearson 105 3. Jeff Gordon 92 4t. Bobby Allison 84 4t. Darrell Waltrip 84 6. Cale Yarborough 83 7. Dale Earnhardt 76 8. Jimmie Johnson* 74 9. Rusty Wallace 55 10. Lee Petty 54 *Record 10th win at Dover *Becomes fifth driver to win 10 or more at one track, joining NASCAR Hall of Famers Dale Earnhardt, David Pearson, Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip
BKR driver wins second race of 2015 RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings DOVER , Del. -- Tyler Reddick had a score to settle with Dover International Speedway , and on Friday he did just that, winning the Lucas Oil 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race in his second start at the Monster Mile. Reddick passed Erik Jones on Lap 193 of 200 and finished 1.255 seconds ahead of Daniel Suarez , who drove past third-place finisher Jones in the closing laps to take the runner-up spot. The victory was Reddick's second of the season in the No. 19 Brad Keselowski Racing Ford, and in the driver's view, it atoned for last year's eighth-place finish in which Reddick underestimated the physical toll high-speed racing at Dover can exact. Specifically, his leg fell asleep as the race progressed. "After what happened to myself last year, not knowing a lot about the g-forces in the corners here -- I was kind of green when it came to asphalt racing," Reddick said. "We had a top-five truck last year, and to have something like that impede our progress in what would have been our first top five… to have something like that mess up what could have been potentially a breakout day for us are the things you can't have happen in racing. "I really wanted to come back here and run really strong, just like I want to run strong every given race. But (last year) gave me a little bit of extra fuel for the fire, and I knew I had to run good here -- and we did." Daniel Hemric posted a career-best fourth-place NCWTS finish in his first race at Dover . Series leader Matt Crafton ran fifth but saw his margin narrowed to 11 points by Reddick, who is second after six races. Ben Kennedy came home sixth, followed by Keystone Light Polesitter Ryan Blaney , Brandon Jones , Johnny Sauter and Tyler Young . Suarez, Jones, Kennedy and Blaney, who finished among the top seven, are all NASCAR Next alums. Though Jones lost one position to Reddick in the series standings, he moved closer to Crafton, now trailing the two-time defending champion by 14 points. Sauter is fourth, 40 points behind Crafton, and could be considered the only other driver within realistic striking distance of the leader at this point in the season. Like Jones, Suarez used a two-tire call to gain track position in the late stages of the race but felt race traffic hindered him in the closing laps. "To be honest, I feel like we had a faster truck," said Suarez, a member of the 2014 NASCAR Drive for Diversity class, who posted his best finish to date in the series. "Traffic was everything. I was talking with my crew chief Jerry Baxter through the radio during the middle of the race. I told him, 'I don't care about tires, I need the track position.' "For sure the track position was very important. Erik Jones he changed just two tires in the last pit stop and he was able to almost get the win and he was driving away, but traffic was a big problem for him and for me and I feel like for everyone. Traffic was something that was a gamble, but overall I feel like we learned some good stuff for tomorrow (in the NASCAR XFINITY Series race)." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Roush Fenway driver conserved fuel for 'Monster Mile' victory RELATED: Final results DOVER , Del. -- Chris Buescher had enough fuel left at the end of Saturday's Buckle Up 200 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Dover International Speedway to do a celebratory burnout, but his No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford wasn't the only thing that was smoking after the checkered flag. Yes, Buescher won for the second time this season and extended his lead in the series standings to 15 points over eighth-place finisher Ty Dillon , but his winning pass of teammate and Coors Light Polesitter Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr. left Wallace fuming. Contact between the cars on Lap 191 of 200 cut the left front tire of Wallace’s No. 6 Ford and forced the car to pit road for an unplanned stop. While Buescher spent the final nine laps coasting to an 11.477-second victory over runner-up Matt Kenseth , stretching 98 laps out of his last tank of fuel, Wallace left the Monster Mile in 17th place -- and understandably unhappy about it. "I was saving fuel there, and Chris just ran over me and he ends up winning," Wallace said. "It should be interesting Monday morning (in the team competition meeting). We just got run over. It sucks that it was my teammate. I thought he got help from the 7 (third-place finisher Regan Smith ), but I just saw the replay there. "I was saving fuel. I didn’t think I was holding him tight and the next thing you know we’re almost in the fence," continued Wallace, a NASCAR Next and Drive for Diversity alum. "The crappy part about it is we had a really strong Ford EcoBoost Mustang, and we couldn’t get off pit road to save us, and we got caught in dirty air, and then we were in fuel saving mode. I thought we were doing OK until that little incident. I would say I am happy Roush won but I’m not." MORE: Tension rises with Roush on-track contact The victory was Buescher's third in the series and his second in the last three races. The winner pointed out that his teammate, who also was on fuel-conservation strategy, was running a slower pace when Buescher caught him. "That was tough, because we are sitting there, and he was saving a lot more fuel than I was because they were shorter, and I was able to run into the corner harder, but I couldn’t do anything with the track being pretty narrow and two guys racing for the win," Buescher said. "It was tough. We got side by side and it (Buescher's car) got pretty free, but this Roush Mustang was good all weekend. The race wasn't exactly where we needed to be, but then (crew chief) Scott (Graves) pulled great strategy and the team did a nice job, and we got to Victory Lane with this Ford." As the highest finisher among eligible series regulars, Regan Smith , who thought he was racing Kenseth for the win before Buescher's fuel strategy paid off, won the $100,000 XFINITY Series Dash 4 Cash bonus. MORE: Smith wins first XFINITY Dash 4 Cash bonus "We'll take some of XFINITY ’s money as a consolation prize, but I want a win so freaking bad," Smith said. Buescher, Smith, sixth-place finisher Chase Elliott and seventh-place Brendan Gaughan are the four drivers eligible for the money in the second of four Dash 4 Cash races on July 25 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway . Note: Sprint Cup regulars Austin Dillon and Kasey Kahne finished fourth and fifth, respectively, but in post-race inspection, Dillon's car was deemed too low in the rear on both sides. If penalties are forthcoming, NASCAR will announce them next week. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Dirty Mo Radio: Discusses key pit-road speeding penalty Carrying the very unofficial title of NASCAR's official grillmaster, Dale Earnhardt Jr . has plenty of experience getting the timing right in his frequent barbecues. Perhaps that's why overcooking his entry onto pit road last weekend at Dover International Speedway left such a sour taste. A crucial pit-road speeding penalty just past the halfway point proved to be an insurmountable obstacle to Earnhardt's chances in the FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks . But Earnhardt, in his weekly analysis on the "Dale Jr. Download" podcast on Dirty Mo Radio, said that he was pleased with the speed in his Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet as he twice rallied from deep in the field to a 14th-place finish. "I still had fun driving the car. I hate I fouled up there and screwed up coming onto pit road and disappointed the guys," Earnhardt said. "We just worked so hard to get all that ground back and get back on the lead lap, and I sort of screwed it all up. So that's difficult to deal with but you've got to put it behind you to be able to move on to the next event, and we're going to some tracks where I think we can do really well and I'm looking forward to it." Earnhardt started from the rear of the 43-car field, dropping back during pace laps after the crew was forced to make repairs to the No. 88's rear gearing during Saturday's final practice. Earnhardt lost a lap early, but regained it with some savvy pit strategy from crew chief Greg Ives and the fortunate timing of the race's second caution period. That lead-lap advantage, however, went away with a penalty during the next round of green-flag pit stops. Earnhardt lost two laps in the process, but the net effect wasn't terribly costly in the scope of the season. The 40-year-old driver has already all but sealed his berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs after posting a regular-season win at Talladega Superspeedway last month, allowing him to take more chances ahead of the 10-race championship fight. "Trying to get everything we can," Earnhardt said. "We can be real aggressive with pretty much everything we do since we have the win and we're locked into the Chase. Sometimes, that's going to bite us, and it bit me today. After that we just worked real hard to get everything else we could out of the race. Ended up gaining a bunch more spots and getting back into the top 15 there, but definitely had a much better car -- a top-five car for sure." While the result was less than desirable, Earnhardt emerged confident that the performance should carry over to the series' October visit to Dover , site of the finale to the Chase-opening Challenger Round. Earnhardt and Co. finished a disappointing 17th at the Monster Mile last fall, but hopes Sunday's comeback-filled effort is something the team can build upon. "Starting in the back definitely made things difficult for us, so I'm pretty happy with the speed in the car," Earnhardt said. "Once we found out we were starting in the back, I really wrote off the result no matter what it was and just wanted to make sure we had good speed, because that track is where we really stumbled last year in the Chase. So we need to run better there for sure later in the season, and I think we've got a good baseline of something that'll work." Before Dover ever comes into view, Earnhardt has more pressing matters in Sunday's Axalta "We Paint Winners" 400 (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM) at Pocono Raceway , where he has a recent hot streak cooking. Earnhardt was 0-for-28 for his career at the Tricky Triangle until last season, when he swept both annual events at the Pennsylvania track. If Earnhardt is able to connect for a third straight victory at Pocono, he'll join elite company in NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison and the late Tim Richmond as the track's only three-in-a-row winners. Pocono Raceway president Brandon Igdalsky, on hand in Victory Lane for both ends of Earnhardt's double last season, told Dirty Mo Radio that the effect of his success was palpable. "He takes the lead, and any track, anywhere -- the place goes bonkers and it was the same thing here last year, watching fans' reaction," Igdalsky said. "Then to see him do it a second time and now to be trying to go for what only two drivers have accomplished with winning three in a row, it's going to be quite a feat if he can do it." Big Download. @DaleJr discusses up-and-down day. @bigdalsky talks about a @poconoraceway 3-peat. #tdjd by @spyoptic : http://t.co/nrBNfRddzU — Dirty Mo Radio (@DirtyMoRadio) June 2, 2015 FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule