Brad Keselowski prevails in Talladega thriller
Brad Keselowski got a push to the lead from Kyle Busch and proceeded to run away from his dancing partner in winning Sunday's Aaron's 499 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at at Talladega Superspeedway.
The victory was Keselowski's second of the season, second at the 2.66-mile track, the sixth of his Sprint Cup career and the first for Dodge at Talladega since Dave Marcis took the checkered flag 36 years ago.
Busch finished second, followed by Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne and series leader Greg Biffle. Clint Bowyer, David Ragan, Trevor Bayne, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Burton completed the top 10.
Keselowski's victory ended a wild final quarter of the race, which extended six laps past a scheduled 188 because of a flurry of late cautions.
As the field began a round of green-flag pit stops with 45 laps left, a massive chain-reaction wreck in Turn 3 eliminated a handful of contending cars, including the No. 24 Chevrolet of pole-sitter Jeff Gordon.
Contact between the Ford of Aric Almirola and the Chevrolet of Dave Blaney triggered the crash, which also collected Martin Truex's Toyota, Carl Edwards' Ford and Juan Pablo Montoya's Chevrolet, among others.
"It was like a wreck at a stoplight," Edwards said. "Everybody started checking up and hitting each other."
With the herd thinned considerably, Paul Menard led the field to a restart on Lap 151. Hamlin, who had regained a lost lap as the highest scored lapped car when NASCAR called the caution on Lap 143, surged to the front, where he swapped the top spot with Brad Keselowski.
Kenseth restarted at the back of the field under a penalty for pitting too soon under the Lap 143 caution, but he quickly worked his way forward, wresting the lead from Denny Hamlin on Lap 167, with the Dodges of Keselowski and AJ Allmendinger lined up behind him.
Five laps later, Hamlin found an opening between Kenseth and Keselowski and took second, but a Lap 175 wreck that started when Casey Mears cut a tire, scrambled the field for a restart with nine laps left in regulation.
As the field crossed the finish line on Lap 181, contact from Keselowski's Dodge sent the Chevrolet of Kurt Busch spinning into the inside wall at the entry to Turn 1. Kenseth led the field to a restart on Lap 185.
The green flag lasted only moments. As soon as the cars crossed the start/finish line, Hamlin ducked to the inside, and Allmendinger tried to block the middle lane. The nose of Hamlin's car, however, was already inside Allmendinger's bumper, and contact between the two cars started a wreck that ruined the chances of Hamlin, Menard, Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart and Michael Waltrip.
Note: Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman both exited the race with oil pump problems and finished 35th and 36th, respectively.