In A Nutshell: Side by side racing, scary crashes, and an amazing race to the finish. Talladega certainly didn't disappoint the fans this time, as Bobby Labonte edged out his Kevin Harvick, Inc. teammate Tony Stewart coming out of the last turn on the last lap to score the win in Saturday’s Aaron’s 312. Casey Mears was leading when a debris caution (this one was legit, folks) with four laps remaining set up the dash to the checkers. That left Mears a sitting duck, as teammates Labonte and Stewart hooked up behind him and motored on by with Stewart in front. You would expect that second teammate to push the first to the finish, but Labonte chose not to play it that way, moving to the outside to make his own move on Stewart coming to the tri-oval. It paid off handsomely, as he got to the line first by about half a car length. Mears settled for third, followed by David Ragan and Kyle Krisiloff rounding out the Top 5.
Who Should Have Won: Casey Mears. Mears dominated much of the day, but sometimes first is the worst place to be in the closing laps of a restrictor plate shootout. In the end, he was an absolute sitting duck once Stewart and Labonte hooked up.
Three Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race Weekend
1) Is there any question NASCAR fans are good people?
Neither of the Busch brothers are fan favorites, and both brothers field regular boos from the fans at driver introductions. Yet, when Kyle Busch had a horrific crash and barrel rolled down the track, coming to a rest in the flaming remains of his No. 5 Chevy, fans waited in silence and then let out a rousing cheer when Busch emerged unharmed from the wreckage. They may boo in good fun at the intros, but not one of these fans wants to see anyone get hurt, ever.
2) Did the last minute change in restrictor plate size make things more dangerous?
The Busch Series has been doing a fantastic job of getting through races at both Daytona and Talladega without having "the Big One." Today didn't go as well, and a number of the incidents happened because they were just racing too close together. Simply put, cars were getting shoved from behind while they had their noses up against the guy in front of them, causing multi-car pileups. One has to wonder if a last minute change in plates didn't contribute to the sometimes too tight quarters, as teams had little time to adjust to the new hardware, shortened by 1/32nd of an inch after speeds climbed too high in Thursday’s practice.
3) Where did Kyle Busch's tire go?
I have no idea, but in at least one shot it sure looked like it was headed over the fence. Thankfully, it didn’t.
Worth Noting/Points Shuffle:
Way to go, Kyle Krisiloff! This guy has been lucky to make it to the finish in one piece and yet at Talladega, of all places, he brings home the highest finish among the non-Cup drivers in fifth place. While Krisiloff is a rookie, he still got edged for that honor, as Nextel Cup double-dipper David Ragan takes home the nod as Raybestos Rookie of the Race with a fourth place run.
Carl Edwards avoided the Saturday carnage to finish tenth and, as if there were any doubt, holds onto the top spot in the Busch Series championship. Edwards now leads by 433 points over new second place man Kevin Harvick. Dave Blaney slips back one spot to third, 496 markers off the lead. David Reutimann moves up one to fourth, while Bobby Hamilton, Jr. picked up four places to round out the Top 5. Matt Kenseth, David Ragan, Kyle Busch, Marcos Ambrose, and Mike Wallace complete the Top 10.
Buschwhackers in this race: 21
Starting spots taken by Buschwhackers YTD: 205 of 426
Buschwhackers finishing in Top 10: 8
Buschwhackers finishing in Top 10 YTD: 80 of 100
Races won by Buschwhackers YTD: 10 of 10
Buschwhackers ranked in Top 10 in Busch Series points standings: 7
"I couldn't miss it, mate. We were right on the yellow line and knew that was the safest spot to be. Something happened above us and just put us in the fence in the backstraight. I've seen a lot of the cars flip and tumble and destroy themselves, and luckily we stayed on four wheels, I don't know how." Marcos Ambrose
"I wanted the 21 to try the 24 on the high side then I would have made it three-wide on the bottom and just hoped for the best. I think the 14 (Kyle Krisiloff) was kind of committed to sticking with us. He had run behind us the majority of the day, so I've got to take my hat off to Kyle for helping me out a little bit. On those last few laps, Tony laid back a little bit, and you knew he was going to be hard-charging since he didn't have anything to lose. He's not out here racing for points…(so) I would have jumped out of line and fell from third to 10th. That wouldn't have been a smart move." David Ragan
"Man, we ran good today and I'm so proud of my guys. We've tried hard all year and we've had some bad luck. Today, we ran really strong and it felt good to be up there." Kyle Krisiloff
"It was awesome. We started on the pole, led 14 laps, and I knew we'd get (freight) trained. And we did, we went to the back. We kept fighting our way up (after that). We got to fourth at one point." Brad Coleman, who wound up ninth
Next Up: And now for something completely different: next week it's the short track at Richmond International Speedway for the Busch Series. They’ll run the Circuit City 250 on Friday night, with coverage can starting at 7:30 PM ET on ESPN2.
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