|Brad Keselowski celebrates in Talladega Victory Lane
Photo – Getty Images
The Aaron’s 499 Sunday Afternoon in Talladega, Alabama featured some great racing.
A late move allowed Brad Keselowski to pull away from Kyle Busch and take the checkered flag for the second time in his career at Talladega Superspeedway.
This race featured numerous storylines and some frustrated drivers.
Early in the race, Regan Smith, Ryan Newman and Jimmie Johnson all experience some sort of engine problem forcing all three to exit the race early.
In his first race of the season, Michael Waltrip took the lead for the first time on lap 25; he led 25 laps by the end of the race and finished nineteenth.
A strategic move had multiple drivers hanging in the back early, including Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard, Kevin Harvick and Juan Pablo Montoya.
The first round of green flag pit stops began on lap 57 with Denny Hamlin pitting solo, eventually costing Hamlin a lot of ground. After green flag pit stops ended there was a four car break away that included, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon.
On lap 120 Kurt Busch took his first lead of the day. Busch was driving a car with a similar paint scheme to a car featured in the hit movie ‘Talladega Nights” starring Will Ferrell. In the movie, Ferrell’s character “Ricky Bobby” was a driver of the “Me” car in a race at Talladega.
The famous Talladega “Big One” occurred with 46 laps to go when Aric Almirola, driving the No.43, got down on the apron and came back up on the track in front of Dave Blaney; Blaney then spun up into traffic. Other drivers involved in the accident were Carl Edwards, Terry Labonte, Juan Pablo Montoya, Landon Cassill, Trevor Bayne, Kevin Harvick, Paul Menard and Joey Logano.
When Martin Truex Jr. tried to avoid the wreck ahead, he slid up the hill a little and attempted to swerve underneath wrecked cars. Truex Jr. then got into Jeff Gordon, who turned hard right up to the outside wall, hitting hard and ending his day. Gordon later commented about the incident by saying “that’s just the way our season’s going.”
After this accident Mr. Rick Hendrick was down to two chances at winning his 200th Sprint Cup Series victory today with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne.
The next caution came out with 12 to go when Marcos Ambrose bumped Casey Mears, sending Mears spinning and eventually Mears spun down the track and got into Trevor Bayne, spinning Bayne out.
A few laps after the restart Brad Keselowski while attempting to switch lanes got into the back of Kurt Busch spinning him out and ending Kurt’s chances of winning, subsequently bringing out a caution once again.
Coming to the restart with four laps to go, the top-five were, Matt Kenseth, Brad
Keselowski, Paul Menard, Kyle Busch and Greg Biffle respectively. Just after the leaders passed the start/finish line, mayhem broke loose. Denny Hamlin got into A.J Allmendinger spinning Allmendinger into Paul Menard. Hamlin spun up the track into Tony Stewart and then Harvick, Waltrip and Bowyer, who were trying to avoid the wreck, made contact with a spinning Menard.
Teammates Bowyer and Waltrip were left with little damage and able to continue in the race, but Harvick had enough damage to end his day. Robert Richardson Jr. in the No.23 also had a good amount of damage, ending his day.
Coming to the restart, Kenseth and Biffle were lined up on the outside, with Keselowski and Kyle Busch lining up on the inside. Only one attempt at a green-white-checkered finish was needed to end the race. Biffle pushed Kenseth to the lead, similar to the end of this year’s Daytona 500. Then Kyle Busch pushing Keselowski, successfully passed the Biffle-Kenseth duo by the time they took the white flag.
When Kyle got loose entering turn 3, he lost contact with Brad Keselowski and couldn’t recover, leaving Brad Keselowski to take the checkered flag.
In victory lane, Keselowski sounded as though he planned the final race-winning move, saying “…had this move worked up in my mind.”
This classic Talladega race left rising star Brad Keselowski in victory lane for the second time this season.
Next week the Sprint Cup Series tackles Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina for a race that promises more excitement.
1. Brad Keselowski
2. Kyle Busch
3. Matt Kenseth
4. Kasey Kahne
5. Greg Biffle
1. Greg Biffle
2. Matt Kenseth
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
4. Denny Hamlin
5. Kevin Harvick