NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Brad Keselowski Wins 2009 Aaron’s 499 at Talladega

Talladega had an unlikely hero on Sunday.

Brad Keselowski braved a block from Carl Edwards, whose car went airborne and across Ryan Newman‘s car, to win his first Sprint Cup race at Talladega in only his fifth career start.

Edwards’s car, meanwhile, went flying into the catchfence, ripping into it and sending parts into the grandstands. There have been reports of eight with minor injuries, one of them airlifted to the University of Alabama-Birmingham Hospital with a minor laceration of her lip and a “possible broken jaw.” A second fan, sitting in the same section of the grandstands, was airlifted to Brookwood Hospital complaining of chest pains after the incident.

The worst injury reportedly came not from parts of Edwards’s crumbling car but from a speaker that fell on a spectator after being dislodged from the fencing.

Coming out of turn 4, Edwards moved high to block a charging Keselowski, who moved quickly to the inside of the No. 99. Keselowski had his nose in when Edwards moved down, sending him spinning. It wasn’t until Newman hit the spinning No. 99 that it went airborne and into the catchfence.

“I gotta apologize to Carl for wrecking him, but man the rule is you can’t below the yellow line. He blocked, and I wasn’t going below it,” Keselowski said in victory lane. “I don’t want to wreck a guy but you’re forcing the situation.”

After Carl’s car came to a stop short of the finish line, he quickly got out and ran the rest of the way to the checkered flag.

“I didn’t know if it mattered if I went across the finish line,” Edwards said. ‘But I just wanted to finish the race.”

The wild finish capped a race that was marred with two Talladega Big Ones.

The first came just eight laps into the race when Matt Kenseth clipped Jeff Gordon. Mayhem ensued in a crash collecting last week’s winner Mark Martin, Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Clint Bowyer and several others. Martin finished 43rd, but he wasn’t as upset as some drivers.

“I told you I wasn’t racing for points. I got a win last weekend,” Martin said. “I’m fine. Maybe we’ll go do that again at Richmond.”

The second came with less than 10 laps to go, when a mid-pack collision took out the cars of Jimmie Johnson, Martin Truex Jr. and involved the cars of Denny Hamlin and Juan Pablo Montoya. All four of those had been running near the front for most of the day. Robby Gordon took a particularly nasty hit and was credited with a 29th-place finish.

“It sucks racing here,” the normally reserved Johnson said in a post-crash interview.

Edwards, who was credited with a 24th place finish, seemed to share a similar concern about the wrecks caused by large packs of cars in restrictor-plate racing.

“It’s something we’ll do until someone gets killed, and then we’ll change it,” Edwards said of the multiple crashes of the day.

Newman echoed the sentiments of both Johnson and Edwards while blaming NASCAR for Edwards’s No. 99 going airborne.

“Talladega is short for ‘We’re going to crash, we just don’t know when,'” Newman said. “We saw [airborne cars] two times this weekend, so maybe we need to look at things that keep the car down on the ground.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second to Keselowski, and despite heavy damage from Edwards’s car going across his own, Newman managed to finish third. Marcos Ambrose and Raybestos Rookie of the Race Scott Speed, who scored a career best finish, rounded out the top five.

After being involved in the Big One on lap 8 and spinning through the grass later on, Kurt Busch took home a sixth-place finish in a No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge with a substantial amount of tape on the nose and a missing back bumper. Greg Biffle kept his car clean all day and finished seventh, with Brian Vickers close behind in eighth. Raybestos Rookie of the Year points leader Joey Logano finished a career-best ninth, just ahead of Jeff Burton in 10th.

2009 AARON’S 499 RACE RESULTS

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