Keselowski Wins Talladega With Late-Race Pass
Brad Keselowski survived a large handful of late-race restarts – the final one a green/white/checkered job – and went on to win the Aaron’s 499 Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday.
The victory was the sixth of the Penske Racing Dodge driver’s career. It was his second of the season as he won at the Bristol short track earlier.
It was Keselowski’s second victory at Talladega as he got his first-ever Cup victory there in 2009.
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch, who pushed Keselowski to the lead past Matt Kenseth after the final restart, finished second.
Kenseth, of Roush Fenway Racing and who led a race-best 78 laps, finished third.
Fourth was Kasey Kahne in a Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet while Greg Biffle, Kenseth’s teammate, was fifth.
Biffle kept his points lead with his finish. Kenseth moved up to second.
Rounding out the top 10 were Clint Bowyer, David Ragan, Trevor Bayne, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Burton.
The wrecking and restarts started in earnest in the final 13 laps.
That was when, Kenseth as he was being passed by Denny Hamlin for the race lead, Casey Mears spun to bring out a caution.
Hamlin pitted but Kenseth stayed out and had the lead. Second on the restart, which came with nine laps to go, was Brad Keselowski.
With seven to go, Kurt Busch who ran near the front much of the day and led four laps, was spun from behind by Keselowski. That brought out another yellow flag.
The race restarted with four laps to go and with Kenseth in P1 and Keselowski next to him.
Moments after the green flag dropped, another big wreck occurred. It occurred when A.J. Allmendinger moved down on Hamlin. Among those caught up were Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Paul Menard, Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer, Michael Waltrip and points leader Greg Biffle.
After the mess was cleaned up, it was green/white/checkered time. With Biffle pushing, Kenseth stayed out front.
The Keselowski/Busch tandem made its move heading to the white flag.
“I just did a poor job of staying with Greg,” Kenseth said. “We had a really fast car all day and nobody could really stay attached. That worked for us at Daytona and I think what happened here was a lot of the cars bailed out from behind Greg and he didn’t have anybody pushing him. We just didn’t have a strong enough row. I should have just drug the brake and kept him with me better than I did. By the time he was attached I had way too big a lead. I knew if I waited for him we weren’t going to win and I knew if I held it wide open we weren’t going to win so I just did the best I could.”
The two then pulled away. Into the tri-oval, Keselowski pulled away to get the win.
There were a variety of reasons why many top drivers were unable to win Sunday.
Like engine problems. Among drivers having those were five-time champion Jimmie Johnson, Regan Smith and Ryan Newman.
Just something underneath the hood,” Newman said. “I smelled oil off of (Turn) 2 and felt the motor tightening-up I lost oil pressure and gained a bunch of water pressure. I just pulled it out of gear. I knew it was blowing up, but just seeing if we had a chance to fix it and hoping we could make it or fix it or whatever.”
Johnson said, “A problem, lost oil pressure there.”
Fuel-related issues cut the chances of drivers like Kevin Harvick. He unexpectedly ran out of fuel and that led to a big wreck as cars behind began stacking up.
With 46 laps to go, the wreck took out several cars that had run near the front at point during the race. Caught up were Jeff Gordon, Martin Truex Jr., Carl Edwards, Juan Pablo Montoya and Aric Almirola.
“Yeah,” Edwards said, “I mean the cars were running out of fuel and with the new fuel system I am sure everyone will look at it. I don’t think they expected to run out of fuel. It is just frustrating.”
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