Kenseth Survives Wild Last Lap for Win at Talladega

Kenseth leads at Talladega
Photo – Butch Dill/AP

By Jason Schultz

The new king of the restrictor plate races took home his second restrictor plate victory of the season.

Matt Kenseth was up front all day and by the time he crossed the finish line, he was first. Kenseth has been up front in all four restrictor plate races this season and he was leading on the last lap in three of them. Kenseth started off the season by winning the first restrictor plate race at Daytona. Then Kenseth went on to run well in the three remaining restrictor plate races. With Kenseth’s track-record at the restrictor plate races this year, he could be called the restrictor plate king.

The race was close and competitive all day. The inedible “Big One” occurred on the last lap, collecting 25 cars. We saw 50 plus lead changes and many different leaders. Kasey Kahne started on the pole and he led up until lap eleven. On lap eleven Trevor Bayne took the lead. The lead then exchanged between Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr and Kyle Busch. Denny Hamlin’s game plan coming into the race was to remain in the back until the end. That plan hurt Hamlin on lap 15 when he started to lose touch with the lead pack.

The first caution of the day came out on lap 17 for a wreck involving Carl Edwards and Cole Whitt. Casey Mears got into the back of Cole Whitt, turning Whitt down into Carl Edwards and then they both hit the outside wall in turn four. Joey Logano also suffered some damage during the wreck and that damage cost him a shot at winning the race.

Matt Kenseth took the lead for the first time of the day on lap 24.

Junior Nation witnessed Dale Earnhardt Jr take the lead for the first time of the day on lap 33.

The dominant duo of restrictor plate racing is Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth with Biffle pushing Kenseth to the lead on lap 42. Kenseth didn’t hold the lead long though as Biffle pushed him into turn one, Kenseth got loose and slid down on the apron, he saved the car from coming back up into traffic. Kenseth’s miraculous save avoided the field from wrecking.

A new face came to the lead on lap 50 and the new face was Casey Mears. Mears had a great day and was up front for most of the afternoon.

The first round of green flag pit stops began on lap 59. Drivers pitted in three groups which helped the drivers get back up to speed on the track when they drafted each other. Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr and Trevor Bayne were all tagged with speeding penalties during their green flag stops and they each had to serve a pass through penalty. Jimmie Johnson emerged as the new leader after the round of stops.

Jamie McMurray took his first lead of the day on lap 79.

The halfway mark approached without any major incidents and Kurt Busch led followed by Kenseth, McMurray, Kahne and Burton.

The second caution of the day came out on lap 98. Kurt Busch was leading the race and he ran out of fuel. That caused the field to stack up and Busch got tapped from behind by McMurray and Busch spun backwards into the inside wall on the backstretch.

This was Busch’s last race for James Finch as Busch is moving on to Furniture Row Racing starting in Charlotte. Busch has had an up and down season with James Finch’s No.51 car but Busch was proud he got to drive the car for the better part of this season.

Marcos Ambrose became the new leader on the restart. Soon he was passed by Kenseth and Kenseth was later passed by McMurray.

A quick debris caution set up a fifty lap shootout to the finish. Greg Biffle was battling with Jamie McMurray for the lead for about twenty laps, with both leading laps during that timeframe.

Kevin Harvick took the lead with twenty laps to go and Casey Mears took the lead with 16 laps to go.

Greg Biffle made an incredible save, much like his teammate’s save earlier in the race, on the tri-oval with 15 to go. Biffle was just about completely sideways on the apron and he came back on the track and straightened the car out. That was the second save we saw on the day that could have been the “big one.”

The next yellow flag flew with six to go when Jamie McMurray got tapped from behind by Kevin Harvick and McMurray took a spin through the tri-oval. McMurray didn’t touch a thing and he was able to continue on. With gas being tight, some of the cars running up front made a pit stop. This all set up a wild green-white-checker finish. On the restart, Bowyer led followed by Kenseth and Harvick.

The drivers managed to complete a lap without wrecking and they took the white flag. The next flag would end the race. Tony Stewart pulled out in front of Matt Kenseth going down the backstretch. Kenseth managed to shake Stewart off going into turn three. Stewart then created a 25 car pile-up in turn four. Stewart came down in front of a hard charging Michael Waltrip and Stewart didn’t clear Waltrip all the way. Waltrip clipped the back corner of Stewart’s car and turned Stewart up the track into the field.

Stewart hit the outside wall hard and then the other cars started piling in. When Stewart was hit by multiple cars at the same time, his car was lifted into the air. Stewart slid upside down across a few drivers’ cars and Stewart’s car then landed on its side and slid down the banking. Stewart’s car then rested upright in the turn four grass. Stewart had taken a wild ride but he was okay. After the wreck Stewart took complete responsibility for causing the pile-up.

There were a total of 25 cars involved in the wreck. They were Bobby Labonte, Dave Blaney, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Marcos Ambrose, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola, Paul Menard, Clint Bowyer, Regan Smith, David Ragan, Landon Cassill, Kasey Kahne, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr, Sam Hornish Jr, Casey Mears, Travis Kvapil, David Gilliland, Terry Labonte, Jeff Burton and Kyle Busch. The wreck involved eight Chasers.

The race for the win continued until NASCAR brought out the caution and ended the race. Matt Kenseth was ahead at the time the caution flew and he was declared the winner. Jeff Gordon continues his hot streak and finished second. Kyle Busch emerged through the wreck to finish third.

Kenseth was very excited in victory lane and he said that he and his team have the restrictor plate stuff figured out.

NASCAR veteran Jeff Gordon has raced in multiple races at Talladega but he said after the race that this was the “Craziest finish I have ever witnessed at Talladega.” That means a lot coming out of a veteran’s mouth.

A wild last lap wreck at Talladega created a major separation in points among drivers in the Chase. The Chase drivers were very spread out among the field. Kenseth finished first, Gordon second, Biffle sixth, Keselowski seventh, Harvick eleventh, Kahne twelfth, Truex Jr thirteenth, Hamlin fourteenth, Johnson seventeenth, Earnhardt Jr twentieth, Stewart twenty-second and Bowyer twenty-third.

The Chase standings took a mild shake-up but Keselowski is still on top by fourteen points over Johnson. Hamlin still sits third but he is twenty-three points behind Keselowski. Kahne has moved up two spots to fourth. Gordon is up four spots into the sixth position and Earnhardt Jr is down four into the eleventh position.

A completely wild and crazy race at Talladega left multiple Chase drivers with beat up cars but it left Matt Kenseth’s car covered with confetti. The Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 lived up to its name of the wild card race in the Chase. After a crazy race in Talladega, what could possibly happen next week in Charlotte? Tune in next Saturday Night to find out.

Results and Point Standings via










1 15 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Ford Ecoboost / National Breast Cancer Foundation 47/4 189 Running
2 6 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet Drive to End Hunger 43/1 189 Running
3 13 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M’s 42/1 189 Running
4 25 34 David Ragan Ford MHP / 8 Hour Alert 41/1 189 Running
5 28 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row / Farm American 39/0 189 Running
6 5 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M / National Breast Cancer Foundation 39/1 189 Running
7 22 2 Brad Keselowski Dodge Miller Lite 37/0 189 Running
8 36 93 Travis Kvapil Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper 37/1 189 Running
9 2 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet U.S. Army 35/0 189 Running
10 26 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar /
35/1 189 Running
11 21 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Budweiser 34/1 189 Running
12 1 5 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet 33/1 189 Running
13 9 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 31/0 189 Running
14 23 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Freight 30/0 189 Running
15 32 38 David Gilliland Ford Peanut Patch Boiled Peanuts / Margaret Holmes 29/0 189 Running
16 31 32 Terry Labonte Ford C&J Energy Services 28/0 189 Running
17 17 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe’s 28/1 189 Running
18 40 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota Scott / Kingsford / Bush Beans 26/0 189 Running
19 18 43 Aric Almirola Ford Gwaltney 25/0 189 Running
20 12 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Diet Mountain Dew “Paint the 88” / National Guard 25/1 189 Running
21 8 21 Trevor Bayne Ford Motorcraft / Quick Lane / Warriors in Pink 0 189 Running
22 4 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Mobil 1 / Office Depot 23/1 188 Accident
23 3 15 Clint Bowyer Toyota 5-Hour Energy Benefiting Avon Foundation for Women 22/1 188 Accident
24 10 22 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge SKF 0 188 Accident
25 11 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota Charlie Loudermilk Aaron’s Dream Machine 19/0 188 Accident
26 19 13 Casey Mears Ford GEICO 19/1 188 Accident
27 20 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford Dewalt 18/1 188 Accident
28 16 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet CertainTeed Insulation / Menards 16/0 188 Accident
29 39 36 Dave Blaney Chevrolet Golden Corral 15/0 188 Accident
30 38 83 Landon Cassill Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper 14/0 188 Running
31 34 98 Michael McDowell Ford K-Love / Curb Records 13/0 188 Running
32 14 20 Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depot 12/0 187 Running
33 30 30 David Stremme Toyota SwanEnergyInc
11/0 187 Running
34 24 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Allstate 12/2 184 Accident
35 43 23 Robert Richardson Jr. Chevrolet North Texas Pipe 0 180 Accident
36 7 99 Carl Edwards Ford Subway 8/0 179 Running
37 41 10 David Reutimann Chevrolet 7/0 162 Engine
38 27 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target / Gillette 6/0 156 Engine
39 29 51 Kurt Busch Chevrolet Phoenix Construction 6/1 98 Parked
40 42 33 Cole Whitt Chevrolet Little Joes
0 16 Accident
41 37 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota AM / FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves 0 12 Vibration
42 35 97 Timmy Hill Toyota AM / FM Energy Wood &Pellet Stoves 0 8 Electrical
43 33 26 Josh Wise * Ford MDS Transport 1/0 5 Overheating


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