A third consecutive victory at Pocono Raceway was not in the cards for Dale Earnhardt Jr.
But if he was especially disappointed, he didn’t show it.
In fact, Earnhardt was overjoyed with the victory by his friend Martin Truex Jr., who picked up his first Sprint Cup Series win since June 2013 at Sonoma, Calif.
“I’m just happy for him,” Earnhardt said before making a visit to Victory Lane, where he showered Truex with a bottle of Diet Mountain Dew. “I know he’s been through a lot of stuff both inside the car and outside the car that last several years. He’s got a team that believes in him. They’ve come a long way over the last several years.”
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Earnhardt ran in the top 10 the entire race but was forced to pit late after scrubbing the wall and making contact with Kasey Kahne on a restart. He finished 11th.
Truex’s NASCAR career took off when driving for Chance2 Motorsports, the precursor to JR Motorsports, which is co-owned by Earnhardt. Truex won consecutive titles in what is now the Xfinity Series in 2004 and 2005.
Truex lost his ride at Michael Waltrip Racing at the end of the 2013 season and joined Furniture Row Racing at the start of last season. It was a difficult year with poor performance on the track and Truex’s longtime girlfriend, Sherry Pollex, battling ovarian cancer.
“Martin’s in a good situation now,” Earnhardt said. “It’s real refreshing.”
Truex’s win also ended Hendrick Motorsports’ five-race winning streak at Pocono.
It was difficult to find anyone, however, not pleased for Truex’s win.
“When you go back to (2013) and the challenges that he has had, he’s had to overcome more personally and professionally than probably anybody sitting in a seat right now,” said Earnhardt’s teammate, Jimmie Johnson. “For him to walk in the garage every week with a smile on his face, climb in the car, put in the effort, be the great guy he is, I think speaks volumes and it’s a very popular win for him.”