LONG POND, Pa. — Dale Earnhardt Jr. hoisted a broom high over his head after he completed a season sweep at Pocono Raceway, the third win in a season that has served as a career renaissance for NASCAR’s most popular driver.
Earnhardt now holds the No. 1 seed in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
Can he keep the momentum headed into NASCAR’s version of the playoffs?
“You’re the broadcaster,” Earnhardt teased crew chief Steve Letarte about that question.
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“You don’t,” the departing Letarte said. “You’re too far from the Chase.”
Earnhardt stormed ahead of the pack off the final restart with three laps left for the lead. His third win, he also won the Daytona 500, tied him for the most in Sprint Cup this season.
Earnhardt held off the hard-charging Kevin Harvick to become the first driver to sweep both races at the track since Denny Hamlin in 2006.
“This group all really enjoys each other,” Earnhardt said. “We want to see everybody happy.”
Earnhardt also became the fifth straight Hendrick Motorsports driver to win at Pocono. Owner Rick Hendrick was not at the race, though he did talk to his winning driver on the phone on pit road.
Earnhardt’s sweep followed Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson last year and Jeff Gordon in the August 2012 race.
Earnhardt has his most wins since he won six times in 2004. His three wins are one shy of his combined total from 2005 to 2013. His win Sunday was the 22nd of a career still without a Cup championship.
Harvick, who clinched a spot in the Chase, was second, followed by Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer and Greg Biffle from Vancouver, Wash. Kahne, from Enumclaw, was 10th.
• Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi went from last in qualifying to capture his fifth IndyCar victory at Mid-Ohio in Lexington in the past eight years, coasting in on low fuel to finally end his team’s victory drought in 2014. Pole-sitter Sebastien Bourdais was a distant second, with James Hinchcliffe third, rookie Carlos Munoz fourth and favorite son Graham Rahal fifth.