Sunday, October 7, 2012

Matt Kenseth Survives Wild Talladega Finish

Matt Kenseth hasn't had the start to his Chase that he wanted.  He also didn't have the start to the Good Sam 500 that he wanted; he was almost spun out twice, but he was able to save it both times.  On the final lap, Kenseth was making a pass for the lead, which saved him from a giant melee that collected most of the field.  Kenseth was able to miss the wreck and win his first race of the Chase.

Matt Kenseth takes the checkered/yellow flag (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne led the field to the green flag, and he was able to lead the first lap with drafting help from Clint Bowyer.  Kahne led until lap 11, when Trevor Bayne got a push from Bowyer to lead the race.  Bowyer and Bayne continued to fight for the lead, until Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the lead on lap 14.  On lap 16, Kyle Busch lead the outside line to the lead with help from Matt Kenseth.  The first caution of the race came out on lap 17, when Cole Whitt got turned around, and clipped Carl Edwards.  Joey Logano also sustained some damage in the accident.  The leaders came in to pit, but Kevin Harvick, Paul Menard, Jimmie Johnson, and Denny Hamlin stayed out.  Before the race went back green, those four driver made their pit stops, trying to stay in the back and out of trouble. 

The race restarted on lap 22, with Kyle Busch leading Kenseth, Earnhardt, Kahne, and Jamie McMurray.  On lap 24, Earnhardt pushed Kenseth into the lead.  Kenseth was able to hold off most of the threats from the drivers in the outside line until lap 35, when Earnhardt took the lead.  On lap 41, Kenseth took the lead back from Earnhardt.  The next lap, Greg Biffle accidentally turned Kenseth, but he was able to save it and didn't wreck, but he did fall to 31st. 

On lap 50, Earnhardt lost the lead to Casey Mears.  Jeff Burton got a push from Kevin Harvick on lap 51 to take the lead away from Mears.  By lap 53, Bayne was back in the lead thanks to a big push from Aric Almirola.  Mears got back to the lead on lap 58 with help from his former teammate Jeff Gordon. 

On lap 60, Sam Hornish Jr., Brad Keselowski, and Jamie McMurray brought their cars in to the pits to kick off a round of green flag pit stops.  Most of the leaders came in on laps 61 and 62, and Earnhardt was the leader when the stops cycled around.  Earnhardt had to give up the lead to make a pass-through penalty, however; he was too fast exiting the pits.  Kyle Busch and Trevor Bayne also had to serve pass-through penalties. 

Kyle Busch leads Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
When Earnhardt pitted, Jimmie Johnson became the leader, and was followed by Mears, Gordon, Kahne, and Menard.  On lap 73, Gordon got alongside Johnson for the lead, and the next lap Kenseth pushed Gordon to the lead.  On lap 76, Earnhardt was lapped in Turns 3 and 4.  Jeff Gordon and Joey Logano almost made contact on lap 79, and he was forced to give up the lead.  He didn't stay away from the lead for long.  On lap 82, Kahne pushed Gordon back to the lead going through the trioval.  McMurray took the lead once again on the very next lap. 

On lap 90, Kurt Busch, with a push from Kenseth, took the lead for the first time during the race.  Kenseth was able to take the lead on lap 95.  Two laps later, Busch took the lead back from Kenseth.  The caution came out on lap 99 for Kurt Busch, who spun coming off Turn 2.  He hit the inside wall, and his day was done.  But Busch got out of the car, saw that he could still drive it, and drove away from the safety crews who were trying to help him.  Busch wasn't wearing his helmet, so he couldn't hear that NASCAR wanted him to stop.  Because of his actions, Busch was parked by NASCAR for the rest of the day.

The race restarted on lap 104, and Marcos Ambrose led the field to the green flag.  Kenseth charged to the lead during the restart. On lap 127, Aric Almirola pushed Biffle around his Roush-Fenway teammate Kenseth to take the lead.  He only led one lap, because Kenseth got back around him for the lead on lap 128.  Biffle pushed McMurray past Kenseth for the lead on lap 132, and Kenseth tucked right in line behind Biffle. 

The caution came out on lap 139 for debris, and Kyle Busch got the lucky dog, while Earnhardt got his lap back because he was ahead of the leaders when the caution came out.  The leaders hit pit road, and Casey Mears was able to get the lead.  The race restarted on lap 143, with Mears leading Keselowski, Busch, Biffle, and Harvick.  Mears and Busch cleared the field in Turns 1 and 2, but Biffle took the lead with help from Dave Blaney, who was a lap down. 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. gets a push past Matt Kenseth from Jamie McMurray (Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
Biffle began to battle with Harvick for the lead, and they were side-by-side for over two laps.  On lap 147, Kenseth and Gordon made contact in Turn 2, but somehow they didn't wreck.  On lap 151, McMurray took the lead away from Biffle, but Biffle came back on lap 152 to take the lead once again.  On lap 155, Harvick pushed McMurray back to the lead.  Biffle was able to get to McMurray's bumper, and took the lead on lap 157. 

McMurray took the lead once again with 21 laps to go, but Earnhardt pushed Logano to the lead going through Turns 1 and 2, Harvick was pushed by everyone by Tony Stewart to take the lead.  With 18 laps to go, McMurray was pushed to the lead by Kenseth, but then Kenseth was able to duck out from behind him to take the lead for himself.  Casey Mears got around them for the lead on the next lap, for the 50th lead change of the race.  Coming out of Turn 4, Biffle got turned onto the apron, but he was able to save it and continue on.  By losing his drafting partner, however, Mears lost the lead to McMurray. 

Earnhardt and Gordon got hooked up, and tried to race their way up to the lead, but Gordon had to drift through the trioval when Earnhardt almost turned him sideways.  Earnhardt had to back off, and he fell through the field.  With 7 laps to go, Bowyer tried to get the outside line to work with help from Kenseth.  Bowyer got to the lead, but Kenseth was able to get under him to fight for the lead.  Coming through the trioval, Harvick turned McMurray, and he spun through the grass, but did not hit anyone.

Casey Mears was the first car that came in to pit under the caution, and most of the cars behind him came in.  Mears ran into the back of Biffle trying to leave his pit stall, causing both drivers to lost positions.  Clint Bowyer led Kenseth, Harvick to the green flag on the green-white-checkered.  Coming down the backstretch, Kenseth came down on Bowyer, causing the field to scatter.  Coming to the white flag, Stewart took the lead away from Kenseth.  Going through Turns 3 and 4, Stewart went up the track, and came back down on Michael Waltrip, spinning both cars across the track.  Stewart's car flipped over, and acted like a pinball while multiple cars ran into him.  The wreck collected at least 20 cars, while Matt Kenseth was able to stay ahead of it to win the race.

The Big One struck on the final lap (Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch finished second and third, respectively, and were able to get through the wreck.  David Ragan finished fourth, and Regan Smith was fifth.  Greg Biffle was sixth, while Brad Keselowski finished seventh.  Keselowski was hit during the wreck, but he was able to keep the car rolling.  Travis Kvapil finished eighth, Ryan Newman ninth, and Jeff Burton was tenth.  Kevin Harvick finished 11th after being spun in the last lap wreck.  Kasey Kahne finished 12th, and Martin Truex Jr. was 13th.  Denny Hamlin ran in the back for most of the race, but spun during "The Big One," and he finished 14th.  Jimmie Johnson was wrecked, but was able to keep his car rolling and finished 17th.  Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 20th.  Tony Stewart was able walk away from the accident, and he finished 22nd.  Clint Bowyer finished 23rd.  Michael Waltrip, in his final race of the season, finished 25th after the accident.  Jamie McMurray finished 34th after his late race spin.  Carl Edwards finished ten laps down in 36th place.  Kurt Busch finished 39th in his final race with Phoenix Racing.  He will be in the Furniture Row No. 78 next week in Charlotte.

Talladega always shakes up the points.  Here are the unofficial points standings, courtesy

Everyone knew that Talladega would be a wild card race in the Chase, with a wreck that would shake up the points.  The race had a wild finish that caused a big shakeup in the points, but one thing is still true: Brad Keselowski is leading the Sprint Cup points.  Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads home to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Bank of America 500.  The race is the only night race in the Chase, and can be seen Saturday night at 7 p.m., only on ABC.

Jerry Markland/Getty Images

No comments:

Post a Comment