Brad Ke­selowski takes check­ers in ac­tion-filled Tal­ladega race

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL SPORTS - By REID SPENCER

NASCAR Wire Ser­vice

— Tak­ing con­trol in the fi­nal three laps of Sun­day’s wreck-filled GE­ICO 500 at Tal­ladega Su­per­speed­way, Brad Ke­selowski claimed his fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup Se­ries vic­tory at the 2.66-mile race track and so­lid­i­fied his spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Choos­ing the top lane for a restart on Lap 186 of 188, Ke­selowski pow­ered his No. 2 Team Penske Ford past Kurt Busch with two laps left and crossed the fin­ish line as a gag­gle of cars wrecked be­hind him com­ing to the stripe.

“The last three or four restarts be­fore that, the high lane had went, and as the leader a lot of it is out of your con­trol,” Ke­selowski said in Vic­tory Lane. “You need the cars be­hind you to push and a cou­ple of them they did and a cou­ple they didn’t. That’s just part of rac­ing, and there was no­body at fault with that.

“We ac­tu­ally lost the lead and got a better run. Jamie McMur­ray be­hind me gave me a great push, and then Kyle Busch gave me a push that was big to clear the 41 (Kurt Busch), and with­out those two I couldn’t have made it to the front. So ‘Thank you’ to them. It’s Tal­ladega. This is my fourth win here. I never thought I’d win at Tal­ladega

TAL­LADEGA, ALA.

four times, and I’m super-pumped. This is awe­some.”

In claim­ing the 19th vic­tory of his ca­reer, Ke­selowski be­came the fourth two-time win­ner in the Sprint Cup se­ries this sea­son.

The race ended un­der cau­tion, with Kyle Busch in sec­ond place and Austin Dil­lon bring­ing his bat­tered No. 3 Chevro­let home in third as the sur­vivor of two early crashes. McMur­ray ran fourth, one spot ahead of pole­sit­ter Chase El­liott, who worked his way up from ninth to fifth af­ter the fi­nal restart.

Ty Dil­lon fin­ished sixth af­ter tak­ing over for Tony Ste­wart un­der the first cau­tion on Lap 51, a move that proved wise given the com­bi­na­tion Ste­wart’s re­cent re­cov­ery from a bro­ken back and the chaos that fol­lowed late in the race. Clint Bowyer was sev­enth—his best re­sult so far this year—and Kurt Busch was shuf­fled back to eighth on the fi­nal lap.

With driv­ers jock­ey­ing for po­si­tion and mak­ing risky moves through­out the race—with a sense of ur­gency ex­ac­er­bated by the threat of rain that never came— Sun­day’s event fea­tured 10 cau­tions and more torn-up race cars than one can count on a full com­ple­ment of fin­gers and toes.

There wasn’t just one “Big One.” There were three mas­sive wrecks at Tal­ladega on Sun­day, with one melee on Lap 161 in­volv­ing 21 cars, more than half the field. Kurt Busch ig­nited that ac­ci­dent by tap­ping Jim­mie John­son’s bumper in the wrong place, turn­ing John­son’s No. 48 Chevro­let into Paul Me­nard’s Chevy and trig­ger­ing a wreck that ended with chas­sis strewn across the rac­ing sur­face and on the in­field grass.

On Lap 181, a 12-car chain-re­ac­tion in­ci­dent took out hard-luck Matt Kenseth, who had led 39 laps, sec­ond only to Ke­selowski’s 46.

Ear­lier, on Lap 96, Chris Buescher’s No. 34 Ford took the brunt of a seven-car crash that ended with Buescher bar­rel-rolling three times af­ter con­tact from Michael An­nett’s Chevro­let.

“I thought we were clear of the wreck,” Buescher said af­ter leav­ing the in­field care cen­ter. “I saw it happening in front of us and checked up, and the next thing I knew I was up­side down.

“We felt we were de­cent this race. We were hold­ing our own and wait­ing, but here we are. It’s un­for­tu­nate. I re­ally hate it for the guys.”

By the time Buescher flipped, Dale Earn­hardt Jr.’s win­ning chance al­ready had evap­o­rated. Fight­ing a loose han­dling con­di­tion in heavy traf­fic, Earn­hardt lost con­trol of his No. 88 Chevro­let on Lap 50 and wiped out Hen­drick Mo­tor­sports team­mate Kasey Kahne.

Earn­hardt re­turned to the race only to be rid­den into the Turn 1 wall when Carl Ed­wards’ dam­aged Toy­ota blew a right front tire and shot up the track into Earn­hardt’s path.

That was a two-car in­ci­dent, a small one rel­a­tive to the mul­ticar crashes that fol­lowed in the sec­ond half of the race, which, in true re­stric­tor-plate rac­ing fash­ion, pro­duced 37 lead changes among 17 driv­ers.

“You know, it’s just Tal­ladega,” Kyle Busch said, sum­ming up the af­ter­noon. “It is what it is. These cars, you try to get a lit­tle bit ag­gres­sive, start bump­ing peo­ple and push­ing peo­ple, they’re real easy to get out of con­trol.

“I re­ally don’t know why we’re bump­ing and push­ing and ev­ery­thing else, be­cause these cars, they go slower when you push. Makes a lot of sense. That’s how stupid we are.”

Ke­selowski might ar­gue that point, be­cause pushes from both McMur­ray and Busch got him to the front when it counted most.

GETTY IM­AGES FOR NASCAR

Brad Ke­selowski poses with the win­ner’s de­cal in Vic­tory Lane af­ter win­ning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Se­ries GE­ICO 500 at Tal­ladega Su­per­speed­way on Sun­day in Tal­ladega, Ala.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.