DETROIT — June at Michigan International Speedway has been kind to Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Earnhardt, nicknamed “June bug” as a youngster by his legendary racing father, has snapped long losing streaks at MIS in June twice during his career and left each time with renewed hope of winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship that has so far eluded him.
At 39, Earnhardt heads on this occasion to the super-fast 2-mile oval in the Irish Hills coming off a victory at Pocono Raceway.
On Sunday, he passed Brad Keselowski (Team Penske) with five laps remaining in the Pocono 400 to take the lead and seal the deal while BK was attempting to clean debris from the front grille of his No. 2 Miller Lite Ford—a gamble he and his crew chief, Paul Wolfe, might now regret.
Earnhardt drove to his second victory of the season in his No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet and assured himself a place in the Chase for the Championship.
Considering this is the first time since 2004 that Junior has notched multiple wins in a Cup season, Pocono was an important victory for him and his Hendrick Motorsports team.
“He (Keselowksi) didn’t want to let me by, but I don’t know if his motor was going to make it,” Earnhardt told reporters after the race. “That is unfortunate for him. He had me beat—I couldn’t get to him. But I have lost some in some strange ways, so it feels good to win one like that.”
In June 2008 at MIS, Earnhardt broke a 76-race victory drought.
He snapped a 143-race winless streak in June 2012 at Michigan—his first victory since that MIS win four years earlier.
Junior is third in Cup points behind leader Jeff Gordon (Hendrick) and itching to start in Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400 at MIS and attempt to make it three wins for 2014.
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