The Final Word – Junior wins on the Pocono Merry-Go-Round

Pocono has a great name, a long tri-cornered track, but visually the action there is not exactly stimulating. To paraphrase Stacy Musgraves, round and round they go, but trash on the grill really blows.

Leading late in the race, Brad Keselowski had trash on his nose, sending the water temperature soaring. He attempted to use Danica Patrick’s car to help fling it off, but all he managed to do was break his momentum to allow Dale Earnhardt Jr. to sail by with five laps remaining. On a track where passing was something most did in the pits, it was all over.

Junior won his second of the season, and 21st of his career, in his best showing since his high water mark of six wins a decade ago. Keselowski did not blow up, finished second, and was left wondering what could have been if he chanced it.

Jimmie Johnson recovered from a pit road collision to finish sixth, one spot behind rookie Kyle Larson. A pit row penalty put Tony Stewart (13th) out of contention, while a flat did in Kevin Harvick (14th). Kasey Kahne (42nd) suffered a tremendous hit on the outside wall to leave him shaken and a bit stirred in regards to Kyle Busch (12th). These, along with Junior’s late race pass, pretty much completed the highlights of this one.

The rest of the day was spent on a merry-go-round, as they went round and round and the only other action either took place coming off pit row or on re-starts. What you saw one lap you probably wound up seeing on the next one. Thank goodness the commentary of the TNT crew was interesting enough, as expected, to keep us listening even when there was not much to see. Even so, the trigger finger remained poised above the button on the PVR. At least it was when I wasn’t dozing off to take a quick nap here and there.

Still, Junior won and isn’t that possibility the very reason why a bunch of us watch every week? Since May 6, 2006 that has been realized just four times, once in 2008, once in 2012, and now the duo this campaign. Not a lot, but enough for some to wonder if the 88 is the new 48. Yah, sure. Over that same span, while Junior has picked up his four, Johnson has claimed 47 triumphs. I might be wrong, but maybe it might be a wee bit early for that kind of wondering.

I do wonder why races refuse to brand themselves, like the Daytona 500, the Southern 500, the Brickyard 400, and the like. Next up, the Motor City 400 in Michigan, at least that was the brand before they totally sold out to the sponsors 40 years ago. It is a shame it is a no-name, especially when you consider that 20 of the first 22 drivers who won the spring race there are Hall of Famers. A race with such a legacy should be known as something more than just a dozen sponsor names since 1976.

Dale Earnhardt won the race twice in his career, as has his son. The legacy tops the leader board as they swing back into action this Sunday.

1 – Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – 2 WINS – 476 POINTS
2 – Jimmie Johnson – 2 WINS – 475
3 – Joey Logano – 2 WINS – 418
4 – Kevin Harvick – 2 WINS – 403
5 – Jeff Gordon – 1 WIN – 498
6 – Brad Keselowski – 1 WIN – 448
7 – Kyle Busch – 1 WIN – 443
8 – Carl Edwards – 1 WIN – 441
9 – Denny Hamlin – 1 WIN – 420
10 – Kurt Busch – 1 WIN – 283
11 – Matt Kenseth – 482 POINTS
12 – Kyle Larson – 417
13 – Ryan Newman – 411
14 – Brian Vickers – 392
15 – Greg Biffle – 385
16 – Austin Dillon – 385

17 – Clint Bowyer – 383
18 – Paul Menard – 380
19 – Tony Stewart – 368
20 – Aric Almirola – 366
21 – A.J. Allmendinger – 360
22 – Jamie McMurray – 351
23 – Kasey Kahne – 351
24 – Marcos Ambrose – 351
25 – Martin Truex, Jr. – 324
26 – Casey Mears – 322
27 – Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. – 290
28 – Danica Patrick – 246
29 – Justin Allgaier – 241
30 – Michael Annett – 212


31 – Cole Whitt – 195
32 – David Gilliland – 191
33 – David Ragan – 184
34 – Reed Sorenson – 175
35 – Alex Bowman – 169






The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

Ron Thornton
Ron Thornton
A former radio and television broadcaster, newspaper columnist, Little League baseball coach, Ron Thornton has been following NASCAR on this site since 2004. While his focus may have changed over recent years, he continues to make periodic appearances only when he has something to say. That makes him a rather unique journalist.


  1. Interesting TNT crew? You talkin’ about Tweedle-dumb and Tweedle-dee that never had an original thought? The only time intelligent sound came out of the speakers was when Larry Mac was given his time. (tho not often enough)

    They owe Abbott and Costello and Laurel and Hardy an apology for trying to act like them.


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