Key Moment – On lap 137, Brad Keselowski, who was already six laps down thanks to an incident with Danica Patrick on lap 14 while going for the lead, spun in front of the field while trying to get his lap back the old fashioned way. At the time he and Jamie McMurray were the only two cars not on the …
Some drivers just sneak up on you, and so far in 2014, Brian Vickers has been one of those drivers. He’s quietly put together some strong runs, including his fourth-place finish in Talladega this week. Vickers wasn’t totally stealthy on Sunday; he did lead three times during the race. The No. 55 team does still have some holes to patch (they’re not yet consistent enough to be a title threat), but Vickers sits 10th in points. That’s ahead of race winners Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch, as well as three-time champion Tony Stewart and teammate Clint Bowyer. Vickers still needs to win to lock down a Chase spot, but he’s making a case for that happening.
Kyle Larson continued to show that he’s not only a threat for Rookie of the Year honors, but also for winning. Larson got the top starting spot by virtue of his practice speed after qualifying was rained out, part of showing speed and prowess all weekend long. Unfortunately for Larson, he got tagged by Bowyer on the first lap of the race which dropped him to the rear of the field. Larson was able to recover somewhat to finish 16th, still good for Rookie of the Race honors, but clearly lacked the confidence and speed to get back to the front after that moment.
Key Moment – The caution flew with 40 laps to go. Teams came to pit road with Clint Bowyer in the lead, but Jimmie Johnson had it when the pit stops completed, a slow stop on the right-rear dooming the No. 15 Toyota to mid-pack. Kurt Busch came out in the third spot, which let …
During a week when the sport was mourning a loss in its Royal Family, the family race team shone through. Richard Petty Motorsports honored their boss’s wife Lynda, who passed away last week, in the best way a racer can: by putting together a great performance on track. Marcos Ambrose led 22 laps en route to a top-five run Sunday, his best result ever at Martinsville. Meanwhile, driving an STP-sponsored car that harkened back to the days of Richard Petty behind the wheel, Aric Almirola drove from a 20th-place start to finish eighth. Somewhere, the Queen, “Mrs. Lynda,” is smiling.
Looking for the Who, What, When, Where, Why and How behind Sunday’s race? Amy Henderson has you covered with each week with the answers to six race-day questions, covering all five Ws and even the H… the Big Six. Who… gets my shoutout of the race? It shouldn’t have been unexpected. Anyone who didn’t think Dale …
NASCAR used all of the tools at their disposal to restart the race and run it to the advertised distance of 499 miles, plus a few more, rather than calling it when the red flag flew for rain on lap 124. That threw out a ho-hum finish, turned it wild and gave the Davids a chance to beat up on Goliath.
What is there to say that’s positive about a type of racing where one driver makes a small mistake and a dozen or more others pay the price? Talladega, along with Daytona, is the epitome of what racing should not be: artificially restricted power that allows no throttle response, huge crashes that destroy a dozen or more innocent bystanders, drivers not racing for most of the race because it doesn’t matter until the last few laps. Yes, the finishes are close, but is a close finish worth watching a race just waiting for the inevitable Big One and wondering who will get taken out this time?
Brian Vickers spun in turn three on lap 396 to bring out the final caution flag of the night. It brought most of the field to the pits, scrambling the running order and cost Juan Pablo Montoya his first win on an oval.
The thing about Brad Keselowski that makes him a threat every place on the circuit is that he doesn’t let any racetrack beat him. You can’t look at past finishes and think, “Hey, a rival could really have a great day, because Keselowski isn’t that good here.” No sooner will the thought be formed than Keselowski will go out and prove it to be wrong by posting a stronger finish than he’s ever had before. That, really, is what makes him scary good, and a threat to win every time out. Sure, he’ll have his bad luck, but that rarely indicates a trend. Prior to his back-to-back Bristol wins (fall ’11 and spring ’12), Keselowski hadn’t even cracked the top 10 in three Cup races there, posting a best finish of 13th. Now, he’s a top pick. And he can do that anywhere.