by Garrett Horton
If you take away his finish at Chicago, Jeff Gordon’s average finish is a 2.3 since Bristol. His last three finishes consist of third at Loudon, second at Dover, and second at Talladega. Before his accident at Chicago that left him with a 35th-place result, he had an identical streak going on, with a third at Bristol, second at Atlanta, and second at Richmond.
Matt Kenseth is looking to become the third Roush driver in the last four seasons to get his last win for the RFR organization at a restrictor plate race. Jamie McMurray’s win in this event in 2009 and David Ragan victory in last year’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona were their last wins (and in Ragan’s case his only one) in a Roush car. Should Kenseth go winless in the last six races of 2012, he will continue that trend.
Along with Kenseth, Jeff Burton was the only driver to finish in the top-10 in all four plate races this year.
Regan Smith, who just drove his last race in Furniture Row Chevrolet, ended his tenure with team on a high note, finishing fifth at Talladega. Smith, who began driving for Barney Visser’s team at the beginning of the 2009 season, had one win, three top-5’s, and 8 top-10’s in 190 races driving the No. 78. No other driver has had a top-10 for the team since Visser became a Sprint Cup owner in 2005.
With David Ragan’s fourth place finish at Talladega, it marked his sixth career top-5 in restrictor plate races. In non-restrictor plate races, he has just seven top-5 results. Additionally, his only two top-10’s in 2012 have come at Talladega.
Brad Keselowski finished seventh on Sunday, his sixth career top-10 in eight races at Talladega. He has more top-10’s here than any other facility and improved his average finish up to 12.2, the best among active drivers.
Tony Stewart was a quarter of a lap away from winning Sunday’s race before triggering the massive wreck that saw him go airborne over several cars. This misfortune extended his cold spell at the 2.66 mile speedway – since winning this event in 2008, Stewart has now gone eight straight races without a top-5 at Talladega.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has led at least one lap in the last 14 Talladega races.
The number of cars collected in Sunday’s wild last lap wreck. Seven of the 25 involved were able to finish in the top-10.
Jamie McMurray led 38 laps on Sunday. His total in his previous 29 races this season was only 20. McMurray’s 38 laps led, which was more than any other driver, was the lowest a driver has been credited for leading the most laps in race this season. The previous low was at Watkins Glen, when Kyle Busch got the extra point bonus for leading 43 circuits.
There were 54 lead changes on Sunday, easily the most this season, but nowhere close to the average number of lead changes in the two Talladega races last year of 80.
When Travis Kvapil crossed the finish line eighth in Sunday’s Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500, it snapped a steak of 97 races run without a top-10 effort. It was his first top-10 since the 2008 season finale at Homestead, where he came home seventh in the Yates Racing entry. Kvapil’s top-10 at Talladega also marked the best finish for the BK Racing organization in their rookie campaign.
Matt Kenseth finished third or better in all four restrictor plate races this season, something that hasn’t been accomplished since 2004 when Dale Earnhardt, Jr. managed to place in the top-3 in every restrictor plate race in a year. Like Kenseth, Earnhardt Jr. won the Daytona 500 that year, along with the fall race at Talladega.
The winnings for Sunday’s last place finisher Josh Wise. Wise, who just completed five laps before retiring due to “overheating,” collected a little over $16,000 more than Saturday’s winner in the Camping World Truck Series race, Parker Kligerman, who won $56,000 for his efforts.