Carl Edwards had the lead when Brad Keselowski got a fender inside of him off turn 4 on the final lap. Edwards moved to block the No. 09 a little too late, going for a terrifying ride into the catchfence off of Ryan Newman’s car while Keselowski drove to victory lane.
Like every single person watching the FOX telecast or sitting in the stands at the 2.66-mile superspeedway that has produced some of the scariest incidents in NASCAR history, I too held my breath waiting for the window net to drop on the No. 99 car after Carl Edwards went sailing into the fence. But as soon as Edwards climbed out of his machine and sprinted to the stripe Ricky Bobby-style, my emotions quickly turned from relief to anger.
One of the biggest struggles we have in life is to try and figure out whether our glass is half-empty or half-full. While contemplating Talladega, I think it’s appropriate to look at both. I’m an optimist at heart, so it’s impossible for me to not appreciate the positive of what transpired Sunday afternoon. Before we even get into the race itself, let’s throw out a list of stats that describe the significance of Brad Keselowski’s win on Sunday.
Brad Keselowski raced the Aaron’s 499 in the same manner as one would want to play a game of poker. After starting in the top 10, Keselowski spent much of the afternoon darting to the front of the pack, only to fall off the pace soon thereafter – leaving his competitors scratching their heads as to exactly what was under the hood of his Miccosukee Chevy. In fact, the Michigan native almost unknowingly twice caused an accident – once on lap 82 when the No. 88 of Dale Earnhardt Jr. quickly came up on the back of the No. 09, forcing Keselowski below the yellow line; and then again with 55 circuits remaining, when he pushed Elliott Sadler to the front, only to lose momentum and create a logjam behind him.
With both restrictor-plate wrecks and engines evening the playing field, six cars outside the top 30 in the owner standings wound up in the top 15 at the finish. Were Sam Hornish Jr. and Robby Gordon among the lucky group that broke through? You’ll just have to read on to find out in this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown.
It’s often been said that on a late restart, the last place a driver wants to be is leading a restrictor-plate race. Ryan Newman found that out the hard way on Saturday. Despite playing the ride in the back strategy to perfection all day long after winning the pole Friday and leading at the white-flag lap, the Rocket found himself unable to hold off the hard chargers behind him at the finish.
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.
You have to expect the Big One at Talladega, because under the current rules package, there is no throttle response and nowhere to go on the racetrack. But you don’t usually expect one on lap 7. But you got one when Matt Kenseth tried to go low, realized there was no room, and cut back up the track smack into the side of Jeff Gordon, who lost the points lead as a result. Plate racing at its finest.
With the off week in full swing, it presented an opportunity for the Frontstretch experts to do something a little different. Instead of grading the Cup guys, we took a look at those drivers who often get shunned from the spotlight these days… the drivers exclusive to the Nationwide and Camping World Truck series desperate to make a name for themselves. These divisions are filled with established veterans and young guns mixed together to provide a cornucopia of driving talent. And since you never know when a Cup ride will become available… we thought it’s high time to figure out who’s proved himself most worthy of filling the spot as of late. Read on to see if your favorite non-Cup driver made the list in this special edition of the Power Rankings.
Something that both the Nationwide and Truck series do share is a two-driver breakaway in the points standings. However, while one of those battles is just heating up, the other threatens to cool down as soon as Kansas in two weeks considering one or both of the drivers involved may not run the full schedule. Which championship in which series am I talking about? Find out by checking out the HOT, WARM and COLD drivers of NASCAR’s second and third biggest series. Not surprisingly, the way things are these days, you will notice a familiar name or two from Sprint Cup on the list.