KENSETH SURVIVES THE BIG ONE AT ‘DEGA
Daytona 500 winner, Matt Kenseth, emerged from the smoke of a 25-car, last-lap pileup to win at Talladega under caution. The win was his sedcond of the year and the fifth checkered flag for Ford Racing (photo courtesy: Chris Graythen, GETTY IMAGES SPORT)
Matt Kenseth passed Tony Stewart on the final lap following a green-white-checkered restart to pick up his first career victory at Talladega and Ford Racing’s fifth win of the season. The Chase For The NASCAR Sprint Cup will culminate at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 18. Tickets for this year’s Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW.
“We just decided the fans pay a lot of money to watch us race, these guys (on the team) pay me to drive the race car fast, so we just go out and race hard every lap,” said Kenseth.
Talladega delivered yet another ''big one'' Sunday, when defending Sprint Cup Series champion and Ford 400 winner, Tony Stewart, triggered a 25-car pileup as he tried to protect the lead. His bid to block a long line of traffic on the last lap backfired, and his car was sent sailing through the air in a chaotic crash that collected 10 of the 12 title contenders.
Stewart took full responsibility for creating the wreck. He had charged to the lead on the first lap of a two-lap sprint to the finish, but got too far ahead of the pack to hang on to any drafting partners.
''I just screwed up. I turned down and cut across Michael and crashed the whole field,'' Stewart said. ''It was my fault, blocking and trying to stay where I was at.”
Kenseth was charging on the outside of him and Michael Waltrip was leading a line of traffic on the inside. Stewart said he mistakenly chopped across the front of Waltrip's car to trigger the accident.
The contact hooked Stewart to send him into a spin, and his car lifted into the air and sailed on its roof and then on its side over several other cars.
Five-time Talladega winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. was credited with a 20th-place finish that dropped him four spots in the standings to 11th.
Of the 12 Chase drivers, only race-winner Kenseth and second-place finisher Jeff Gordon avoided the final wreck and it pushed Gordon up four spots in the standings to sixth with six races remaining.
Gordon finished second, giving him two top-five finishes and three top-10s in his past five starts at Talladega. Afterward, Gordon said fans should have enjoyed the excitement produced by the return to pack racing.
“If I’m a fan, I would love that,” Gordon said. “I think it is incredibly intense. It’s wild, it’s crazy. … That literally is bumper cars at almost 200 miles per hour.”
Among the drivers in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship, Kevin Harvick finished 11th, Kasey Kahne 12th, Martin Truex Jr. 13th, Denny Hamlin 14th, Jimmie Johnson 17th, Dale Earnhardt Jr. 20th., Stewart 22nd and Clint Bowyer 23rd.
Keselowski extended his lead in the standings over Johnson to 14 points. Hamlin is in third place in the standings, 23 out of the lead, while Kahne is in fourth place, 36 points back. The Chase For The NASCAR Sprint Cup which will culminate at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 18. Tickets for this year’s Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW.
Keselowski considered himself lucky to be leaving with a 14-point lead over Johnson. Keselowski said he was holding on trying to stay in the bottom lane because he figured that would be his escape route when the inevitable accident happened.
''That's pretty big; I just feel lucky to survive Talladega,'' Keselowski said. ''Just a bunch of guys running four-wide. You know it's a matter of time before they wreck. We all did.''
Because Talladega is the fourth race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, the championship-contending drivers had to do everything in the power to leave with a good finish.
Next up for the Sprint Cup Series drivers is Talladega on Sunday, September 30 (1:00 p.m. ET, ESPN) — en route to Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 16-18). Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are available now.