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Keselowski Wins Wreck-O-Rama At Talladega

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, October 15 2017

Brad Keselowski drove the No. 2 Penske to victory at Talladega on Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Harold Hinson)

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Brad Keselowski survived a late-race wreckfest, pulled off a last-lap pass and won Sunday’s NASCAR Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway.

The win was Keselowski’s fifth at the restrictor-plate track, his third there since 2012 and moves him into the next round of the Playoffs.

“It’s a special day any day you can win,” he said, “but to win at Talladega for the fifth time is something I was never sure I’d ever have the opportunity to do.  Just winning here once felt pretty incredible, and it’s hard to believe that was eight‑some years ago.  To win here again, it still feels pretty darned good.  It doesn’t feel much different.  I’m a little older now, but yeah, you never know when your first win or last win could be, and I want to of course soak this one up and be thankful for it, and of course there’s a lot of carnage and other things that we were able to survive that give me good reason to be thankful for, as well.”

Finishing second to Team Penske’s Keselowski and the victim of his last-lap pass was Ryan Newman.

“We tried to play it smart and in the end we were close,” Newman said, “but not close enough. I got double-teamed with the No. 2 and the No. 22 (Keselowski and Joey Logano). That was the difference.”

 The race was fairly clean by Talladega standards – until the final 20 laps.

Then, with 17 laps to go, that all changed when a big wrecked collected 16 cars. The No. 38 Ford of David Ragan was nudged from behind by the No. 78 Toyota of Martin Truex Jr.

Six of the 12 NASCAR Playoffs drivers competing for the championship were involved in the wreck, including significant damage to Truex Jr., No. 17 Ford of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and No. 18 Toyota of Busch.

“Well,” Truex said, “I tried to get into a hole that was closing up at the wrong time and by the time that I got in the brakes trying to get out of there I got in the 38 (David Ragan) a little bit on the right rear and he got squirrly out there and all hell broke loose. Just was trying to get to the end and get some track position and try to get towards the front and have a good day and ended up causing a wreck, so I hate it for everybody. We definitively had nothing to lose today, but at the same time you don’t want to be the person that causes others problems. Even though I feel like I’ve never been that guy here before it looks like today I was, so I hate it for all of those guys and all of their teams. I wish I didn’t make that mistake. Just 18 to go at Talladega, trying to get going and trying to fill a hole. Bad judgement and should have been more patient.”

Kevin Harvick and Kenseth also were involved in the wreck, but were able to continue in the race, despite both entries being scored down laps.

NASCAR displayed the red flag for cleanup for 12 minutes, 31 seconds.

Playoff driver Jimmie Johnson was forced to park his No. 48 Chevrolet after his crew worked to repair damage sustained in the incident during the red flag.

Still more playoff drivers were involved in a four-car wreck with 11 laps remaining that also brought out the red flag as the No. 21 Ford of Ryan Blaney and Harvick’s No. 4 Ford suffered damage that forced both of them from the race.

And the No. 24 Chevrolet of Chase Elliott was forced from the race with six laps remaining when Elliott turned leader Daniel Suarez while racing for the lead — collecting the No. 42 Chevrolet of Kyle Larson in the process. The red flag was displayed for 17 minutes, 14 seconds.

Keselowski won Stage 1 after a one-lap shootout following a Lap 50 caution; Blaney won Stage 2 after taking the lead 18 laps before the stage ending.

In his final race at Talladega as a full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., who had started from the pole, finished seventh.

The 188-lap, 500.08-mile race featured 16 different leaders, 14 cautions and three red flags.

(This story will be updated shortly)

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, October 15 2017
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