Keselowski Gets Last-Lap Win at Talladega

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, April 25 2021

Brad Keselowski celebrates for the sixth time at Talladega. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

Brad Keselowski joined a couple of his long-time heroes on Sunday when he became a six-time winner at NASCAR’s biggest and baddest track.

Keselowski led just one lap in the but by winning at Talladega Superspeedway, he jointed Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

The victory came in overtime and it gave him his first victory of the season in his No. 2 Team Penske Ford.

“The whole race I had a couple opportunities to take the lead,” Keselowski said, “but I just kept thinking, ‘Man, keep your car in one piece.’ “

Thought the victory was No. 6 at Talladega in his career, it was his  first at the Alabama oval since 2017. In the races since then, he has had a best finish of 13th.

“We’ve been so close here and it just didn’t seem to want to come together here the last few years and I’ve been on kind of a four-year drought here, but it’s nice to get number six,” he said. “I would have never dreamed I’d tie Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. here.  That’s something.  Those guys are really legends.”

Finishing second was William Byron of Hendrick Motorsports, who was looking for his second win of the season. The margin of victory was .102 seconds.

Third was 2021 Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell, who finished .103 behind the winner.

“It’s been a great season for us,” McDowell said. “I really felt like I was in a good spot working with Brad. Thought I’d have the run.”

Rounding out the top five were Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing and Matt DiBenedetto, who restarted the race in OT with the lead and who was attempting to give the iconic Wood Brothers Racing team its 100th victory in Cup.

DiBennedetto had the lead on the final restart but a decision to go high in an attempt to block a surging outside line of cars proved to be the wrong decision.

“It’s tough. It’s all just so circumstantial. Our day will come. I’m just lucky to drive this thing. Driving for the Wood Brothers is a dream come true,” DiBenedetto, who will be replaced by Austin Cindric after the season, said. 

Of DiBenedetto’s move up the track, Keselowski said, “Merry Christmas.”

As usual, wrecks played a big role at the 2.66-mile Talladega track.

The first major wreck of the day was not a big one in terms of the number of cars involved but it was big for a driver who was among the pre-race favorites. On Lap 59 — the final lap of Stage 1 — Joey Logano was knocked sideways. His car then went airborne before rolling down the track. Logano is a three-time winner at Talladega and had led 10 laps on Sunday.

After being released from the infield care center, Logano blamed nobody but the type of racing which superspeedways breed. “We have to fix it, though,” he said. “Somebody got hurt (Ryan Newman at Daytona last year) and we’re still doing it.

“On one hand, I am mad about being in the crash and on the other, I am happy to be alive. On another hand, I am wondering when we are going to stop because this is dangerous doing what we are doing. I got a roll bar in my head. That is not OK.”

A second significant wreck occurred with two laps left in State 2 collected several cars that appeared capable of winning — those of Denny Hamlin, who led 44 laps to that point, his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex, Jr., Chase Elliott and his Hendrick Motorsports teammates Bryon and Alex Bowman. All continued on but the cars of Hamlin and Bowman suffered serious damage and fell off the lead lap.

Harrison Burton, son of former star Jeff Burton, made his Cup debut Sunday and it didn’t start well. His team was penalized for making unapproved adjustments prior to the start. In the race, he was penalized again when his first-ever Cup pit stop ended when he lifted his stall with the gas can still attached to the fueling port.

However, Burton was in position to win in OT before making a move that cost him several spots. He finished 20th.

NASCAR heads north next weekend to race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan.


NASCAR Cup Series Race – 52nd Annual GEICO 500

Talladega Superspeedway

Talladega, Alabama

Sunday, April 25, 2021

  1. (10)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 191.
  2. (4)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 191.
  3. (23)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 191.
  4. (16)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 191.
  5. (13)  Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 191.
  6. (38)  Kaz Grala, Chevrolet, 191.
  7. (20)  Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 191.
  8. (11)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 191.
  9. (7)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 191.
  10. (27)  Cole Custer, Ford, 191.
  11. (25)  Chase Briscoe #, Ford, 191.
  12. (30)  Anthony Alfredo #, Ford, 191.
  13. (28)  Ryan Newman, Ford, 191.
  14. (29)  Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 191.
  15. (14)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 191.
  16. (18)  Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 191.
  17. (6)  Christopher Bell, Toyota, 191.
  18. (9)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, 191.
  19. (24)  Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 191.
  20. (39)  Harrison Burton(i), Toyota, 191.
  21. (21)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 191.
  22. (26)  Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 191.
  23. (19)  Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 191.
  24. (8)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 191.
  25. (31)  BJ McLeod(i), Ford, 191.
  26. (37)  JJ Yeley(i), Chevrolet, 191.
  27. (22)  Erik Jones, Chevrolet, Accident, 190.
  28. (33)  Cody Ware(i), Chevrolet, 190.
  29. (40)  Timmy Hill(i), Ford, 190.
  30. (34)  Justin Haley(i), Chevrolet, 190.
  31. (3)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 189.
  32. (1)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 188.
  33. (17)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 186.
  34. (35)  Joey Gase(i), Ford, 186.
  35. (15)  Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 185.
  36. (36)  Josh Bilicki, Ford, 180.
  37. (32)  Quin Houff, Chevrolet, Accident, 168.
  38. (5)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, DVP, 123.
  39. (2)  Joey Logano, Ford, Accident, 59.
  40. (12)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, Engine, 3.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  147.62 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 26 Mins, 30 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.102 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  7 for 34 laps.

Lead Changes:  35 among 17 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   W. Byron 1;J. Logano 2-11;B. Wallace 12-14;K. Harvick 15-18;B. Wallace 19-21;K. Busch 22-26;C. Briscoe # 27;D. Hamlin 28-48;R. Blaney 49-50;M. DiBenedetto 51-54;*. Preece 55-56;M. DiBenedetto 57-62;R. Newman 63;C. Elliott 64-66;D. Hamlin 67-68;M. DiBenedetto 69-71;W. Byron 72;D. Hamlin 73-92;K. Busch 93;*. Preece 94-100;W. Byron 101-110;M. DiBenedetto 111;B. Wallace 112-121;R. Newman 122;R. Blaney 123-131;A. Almirola 132-147;R. Chastain 148-150;K. Harvick 151-152;R. Chastain 153;K. Harvick 154-159;C. Bell 160-161;R. Chastain 162-169;E. Jones 170-176;M. DiBenedetto 177-190;B. Keselowski 191.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Denny Hamlin 3 times for 43 laps; Matt DiBenedetto 5 times for 28 laps; Aric Almirola 1 time for 16 laps; Bubba Wallace 3 times for 16 laps; William Byron 3 times for 12 laps; Kevin Harvick 3 times for 12 laps; Ross Chastain 3 times for 12 laps; Ryan Blaney 2 times for 11 laps; Joey Logano 1 time for 10 laps; * Ryan Preece 2 times for 9 laps; Erik Jones 1 time for 7 laps; Kyle Busch 2 times for 6 laps; Chase Elliott 1 time for 3 laps; Ryan Newman 2 times for 2 laps; Christopher Bell 1 time for 2 laps; Brad Keselowski 1 time for 1 lap; Chase Briscoe # 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 21,12,9,11,24,17,48,34,4,20

Stage #2 Top Ten: 23,2,34,18,37,12,17,47,20,96





| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, April 25 2021
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