Pocono NASCAR: Dale Earnhardt Jr holds off Kevin Harvick to triumph

Dale Earnhardt Jr emerged in front through the late strategy gambles and restart jostles to win at Pocono for the second time in the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season

Pocono NASCAR: Dale Earnhardt Jr holds off Kevin Harvick to triumph

Pitting for fresh tyres and a fuel top-up under a long yellow for a 13-car pile-up going into the final quarter of the race was key to Earnhardt's victory, as it meant his subsequent final stop under green could just be a rapid splash while others needed a full service.

The Hendrick Chevrolet driver still had to clear a gaggle of cars that were gambling on stretching their fuel loads to the finish, but a handful of late yellows helped that process.

After the final restart with three laps to go, Earnhardt just had to hold off a very determined Kevin Harvick, whose pit tactics brought him back up to second despite a pit speeding penalty and damage from the multi-car collision.

Harvick tried his utmost, but crossed the line two tenths of a second behind the triumphant Earnhardt, with early race leader Joey Logano right behind both of them.

Jeff Gordon had dominated much of the race, although the wild variety of strategies that developed from the first yellow onwards meant sheer speed was always unlikely to be enough.

Unlike team-mate Earnhardt, Gordon had to take a full fuel load and four tyres under green at his final stop, leaving him back in the pack, where his Chevrolet didn't handle so well. He could only make it back to sixth, behind Clint Bowyer and fuel-gambler Greg Biffle.

Kurt Busch was the other main protagonist, going out of sequence on fuel strategy early on but showing similar speed to Gordon. He also ended up in the midfield after the final stops, and then hit the wall when a tyre went down.

Denny Hamlin inadvertently triggered the race's huge crash when he got sideways in a big group of cars following a brush with Bowyer. While chaos erupted behind him, Hamlin was able to straighten up with just a small brush of the wall and finished ninth.

Brad Keselowski, Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth were among the big names embroiled in the shunt, Stewart ending up perched atop Paul Menard's car.

Keselowski had earlier tumbled down the order from third on the grid when an opening-lap clash with Busch sent him sideways.

Jimmie Johnson had two punctures. He fought back from a lapped 43rd to fourth following the first, but the second ended his race.

Kyle Busch was another notable retirement due to an early engine failure.

Polesitter Kyle Larson steadily slipped back after losing the lead to Logano on lap one. He eventually finished 11th.

 Results - 160 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet 3h08m22s 2. Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet +0.228s 3. Joey Logano Penske Ford +0.493s 4. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota +2.195s 5. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford +2.861s 6. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet +2.869s 7. Jamie McMurray Ganassi Chevrolet +3.033s 8. Ryan Newman Childress Chevrolet +3.409s 9. Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Toyota +3.696s 10. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet +4.329s 11. Kyle Larson Ganassi Chevrolet +5.513s 12. Casey Mears Germain Chevrolet +6.255s 13. Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Chevrolet +6.369s 14. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford +7.218s 15. Austin Dillon Childress Chevrolet +7.256s 16. Justin Allgaier Hscott Chevrolet +8.033s 17. David Gilliland Front Row Ford +10.428s 18. Ricky Stenhouse Jr Roush Fenway Ford -1 lap 19. David Ragan Front Row Ford -1 lap 20. Ryan Truex BK Toyota -1 lap 21. Cole Whitt BK Toyota -1 lap 22. Michael Annett Baldwin Chevrolet -1 lap 23. Brad Keselowski Penske Ford -1 lap 24. Josh Wise Parsons Chevrolet -1 lap 25. Travis Kvapil FAS Lane Ford -2 laps 26. Dave Blaney Humphrey Ford -2 laps 27. Reed Sorenson Baldwin Chevrolet -2 laps 28. Alex Kennedy Circle Sport Chevrolet -2 laps 29. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford -3 laps 30. Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet -4 laps 31. Alex Bowman BK Toyota -6 laps 32. Martin Truex Jr Furniture Row Ford -16 laps 33. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet -17 laps Retirements:  AJ Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Chevrolet 137 laps Aric Almirola Petty Ford 125 laps Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 124 laps Brian Vickers Waltrip Toyota 116 laps Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Toyota 116 laps Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet 111 laps Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota 88 laps Landon Cassill Hillman Chevrolet 28 laps Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Toyota 23 laps Johnny Sauter BK Toyota 11 laps
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