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Race Rewind: Looking back at the Pocono 400

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    Quicken Loans 400

    Where: Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, Mich.

    When: 1 p.m. Sunday

    TV: TNT

    Radio: Motor Racing Network

    Last year’s winner: Greg Biffle


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Observations

• Even as he gets ready to celebrate his 40th birthday, Dale Earnhardt Jr. still commands the admiration of NASCAR fans like no other. In many races this season, as soon as the winner takes the checkered flag – and sometimes even before – the race begins to the parking lot. Not Sunday. Fans remained in the grandstands to soak up every moment of the celebration surrounding Earnhardt’s first ever victory at Pocono Raceway. Adding to the moment was the genuine excitement Earnhardt and his team members enjoyed as well.

•  Small teams have a hard time keeping pace with likes of Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing or Team Penske these days, so a pair of Top 20 finishes by Front Row Motorsports and Tommy Baldwin Racing is an accomplishment worthy of note. Front Row’s David Ragan finished 18th and TBR’s Michael Annett ended up 20th. Ragan’s finish was a season’s best.

• So much technology involved in racing these days and the outcome of a race was still determined Sunday in large part because a piece of paper (or hot dog wrapper) ended up getting stuck on the front grille of a pair of cars.

Notebook

Biffle to remain at Roush: NASCAR veteran Greg Biffle and his primary sponsor, 3M, will remain with Roush Fenway Racing, multiple sources have confirmed to the Observer.

An official announcement of contract extensions for Biffle and the sponsor with RFR could come as soon as this coming week, sources said.

A team spokesman said the organization would continue its policy of not commenting on drivers’ contract status until an official announcement was made. Biffle finished 16th on Sunday.

Biffle, 44, has spent virtually his entire NASCAR career with team owner Jack Roush and won championships in the Truck and Nationwide series. He has 19 Cup series wins in 415 career starts and finished as high as second in the series standings (2005).

Costly move by Keselowski: With the lead in the final laps but with rising engine temperatures because of debris on his front grille, Brad Keselowski attempted to get behind the lapped car of Danica Patrick in hopes of dislodging the debris.

Instead he lost his momentum, allowing Dale Earnhardt Jr. to pass him for the lead with four laps remaining.

“I was trying to do something to help my car out and I knew it was going to break and I was going to get passed so I was trying to make whatever move I could do to help clean it off, and I’m not sure I did enough to make a difference,” he said.

“But I made enough of a difference to lose the lead in the process.”

Consecutive Top 10s: Martin Truex Jr. earned his second consecutive Top-10 with a ninth-place finish Sunday. He finished sixth last week at Dover.

“We had top-10 cars all year but we were not able to finish races,” said Truex, whose only other top-10 came in Richmond in April. “The last two weeks we finished the races and got some decent results.

“We’re gaining but still have a ways to get to where we want to be.”

Stewart too fast at wrong time: Tony Stewart led 24 laps in Sunday’s race – second-most in the race – but saw his chance at a victory hampered by a pit road speeding penalty on Lap 121.

“It was 100 percent driver error,” said Stewart, who finished 14th. “I gave my guys grief last week with a sixth-place run (and) thought we should run in the top three and then I threw it away this week.”

Five key moments

1 . Brad Keselowski dominated early, leading the first 56 laps of the race.

2 . Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart were in the mix for the win but were sidelined with problems mid-race. Harvick had a flat left-front tire and Stewart was caught speeding on pit road.

3 . Dale Earnhardt Jr. led twice before the finish – both times during green-flag pit stops.

4 . On the final restart with 11 of 160 laps remaining, Keselowski moved quickly into the lead but his engine temperatures rose to a dangerous level when a piece of debris got caught on his front grille.

5 . Keselowski tried a move to get debris off his grille but lost his lead to Earnhardt with four laps remaining.

Unofficial results and points standings

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